Intelligent Baiting For Carp

Big carp can be very difficult to catch, but using bait in more creative ways when carp fishing can really make more opportunities for great catches! Tim Richardson shows you how…

Many anglers have not heard about the feeding ‘triangle’ effect. This is where the effect of feeding a swim regularly can influence the behaviour of fish in your favour. The act of ‘pre-baiting’ for carp and indeed catfish and other species is well known as a proven successful fishing edge.

‘Where allowed, pre-baiting a swim or swims can create fish feeding activity hotspots and the eventual ideal aim is to achieve a ‘feeding frenzy’.

For example, the feeding of a swim as you are fishing can change the size and numbers of fish you catch over time. This is especially when compared to using no free baiting whatsoever. Many anglers would never dream of fishing without some free bait in their swim, as it tends to induce a perceived feeling of ‘confidence or control’ over fish activity.

In fact many big fish get caught as a direct results of baiting up by a previous or succession of previous anglers in a swim, having conditioned the fish to the constant presence of food often of the same or a similar type, like one company’s make of boilie. An angler may then turn up, and cast out a similar single boilie on a rig with no free offerings, and very confidently expect to catch a big fish.

You might start off fishing by ground baiting on a ‘little and often’ basis, just introducing a few handfuls of bait every 15 minutes or hour etc. By continually doing this often the size and type of fish coming into the baited area gets bigger as time goes by, even over just one day’s baiting.

‘Fish are obviously not just attracted by the bait alone but by other fish behaviour and feeding activity of fish entering and leaving the baited swim.’

The application of frequent free baiting is one of the most amazing edges in modern carp fishing especially when done creatively. It can result in making big fish catching opportunities possible even on very lightly fished big fish waters, where carp have been very difficult to catch due to their ‘roaming’ mobile feeding behaviour.

The type of bait you are using as ground bait has become of paramount importance. The commercial bait companies have been quick to notice and exploit this. The quality and make-up of your ground baits and free baits can make a big difference on many carp waters. The study of ground baits and their solubility, digestibility and protein content are matters of concern for the angler for his results and for fishery owners to consider, regarding water quality, nitrogen levels etc.

I find the more soluble the bait used to attract and trigger the fish into feeding, the more instant and powerful the effect and better the bait triangle effect. Many anglers are discovering that feeding their swims with tiny pellets and seed mixes has a remarkable effect on fish compared to just using ordinary ‘standard’ boilies to pull and hold carp for lengths of time.

Carp do seem to be able to eat average sized boilies and large pellets very quickly before moving on, whilst the tiny pellets and seeds, bird food ground baits etc, can often achieve much more intense feeding for longer. It takes longer for these free baits to be found and the longer the fish are actively feeding hard in your swim, the more chances of repeated ‘pick-ups’ and mistakes made on your baited rigs!

‘If you assess your water for the best baits to use, it is often good to attempt to introduce a new bait or one not been used to great effect for a few years.’

This applies to any baits, from boilies and pellets to luncheon meat, trout pellets, sea baits like prawns and so many other ‘particle type baits’ like tiger nuts, groats, fermented corn or wheat, peanuts etc.

Your fishing baits do not need to be the latest most ‘advanced’ design boilie or pellet either. I have caught well from certain lakes using bread flake with or without special dips to attract the fish. In many lakes with problem smaller fish that often consume all your free baited expensive shop bought boilies, then using ground baits of ‘humble’ origins is very often the cheap and effective solution. I’m not above using a ground bait based on bread crumbs, sausage meat, nut flours and milks and sprouted and fermented bird seeds for example, and it certainly works!

‘When I began carp fishing, I found it very advantageous to feed large amounts of bread based ground bait very regularly.’

I would fish on the bottom of the lake with the heaviest lead I could find, often cut down sea leads. (The major reason for this was to hook the fish better as few anglers used leads of more than 2 ounces at the time and after watching fish get off rigs on lighter leads, it made sense to be able to hook them deeper at the initial ‘pick-up.’)

The ground bait was introduced at hourly or half hour intervals or more, depending on the catch rate, type of ground bait and response of the fish to the ground bait etc. Some breads are better than others just like some luncheon meats are and some types of trout pellets or salmon pellets and so on. Some breads have higher sugar content, some have more sugars, more yeasty aroma or even added vitamins and minerals and other carp attractive goodies.

This was at a time when boilies and the hair rig, ‘shock’ type rigs etc were really in the domain of the tiny minority of anglers as opposed to today in the UK. Many carp anglers of the time would feed their swim in advance with pet food type paste baits and these baits would often be very big by today’s standards. Golf ball size or orange sized baits were not uncommon for free baits or even hook baits. The saying “the bigger the bait, the bigger the fish” was popular!

The fact is that despite the revolutionary growth of carp fishing in France and around the world with the present availability of boilies, pellets, ground baits and method mixes etc, basic ingredients are still very similar to the best carp baits made in the 1970’s in the UK…

‘For many reasons some baits work better on some waters better than on others, and for different periods of time.’

Coming from the era when making your own baits was the only option; you had to find ways of testing them. One particularly good way was to make a new batch and feed it all over a lake.

Within a few days, if the baits had not been eaten, then the new baits would float to the surface and drift to the side of the lake. This would be the sign that was needed, to change the bait in some way. Birds would tend to eat the floating baits and clear them up, or they would be picked up by hand.

When a bait had been introduced and been eaten then this would be obvious by no bait present floating around the lake. Upon baiting the whole lake up the fish would be familiar with it as a new ‘safe’ food source and you could fish with confidence with the new baits.

‘Because fishing especially in the UK has become so competitive with many waters being fished 24 hours a days all year round, the methods of baiting swims has altered in many ways.’

In fact one of the best ways to catch big carp on pressured waters is to watch where the big fish feed and are regularly fed with the greatest amounts of free baits.

Where this occurs, all you do is watch an angler bait up. These days 3 to 10 kilograms of boilies and other assorted baits like hemp, pellets, tiger nuts etc per day, is not unusual on big fish waters. On such a water where the fish often appear to eat the bait on the third day after introduction or longer, then the key is to fish on or to the side of an established baited area of the swim.

Often the presence of a certain type of flavour is enough to put the fish off, until it has leached out of the bait. So it does pay to know that it is quality bait you are fishing over and that the fish will definitely eat it in due course!

Many modern carp anglers have become what is termed ‘session’ anglers for this type of reason. The bait introduced builds up a ‘baiting triangle effect’ in the short-term. The carp begin to feed on the bait and feed competitively on it. This is often where the multiple big fish catches can occur for the average angler but it does help to be smarter about how you bait up and what with. ‘Homemade’ applies to ground baits and their ingredients, method mixes, stick mixes, polyvinyl alcohol bag mixes, packbaits, (even flavours) and so much more.

At this time of year, even making a ground bait that pull in the little fish really pays off. Carp at this time often feast on fry and concentrating these food fish in one spot can really pay dividends for big carp…

By Tim Richardson.

Tim Richardson is a carp and catfish bait-making expert, and a highly successful big fish angler. The author has many more fishing and bait ‘edges’ up his sleeve. Every single one can have a huge impact on catches. (Warning: This article is protected by copyright.) Find his books here –


3 thoughts on “Intelligent Baiting For Carp

  1. Joseph D. Duke says:

    the best carp bait I have found that works time and time again is to take a three pound bag of flour and a three pound bag of white corn flour. mix them together and then add a six ounce bottle of van. flavoring. roll in to ball and boil them until firm. you can catch loads and have a lot of fun using this bait.

  2. ben were says:

    i wonder if you can help me im fishing a lake in liss mbk st patricks lane …i fish there every week and i cant seem to catch the bigger carp iv found that the carp there r taking sweeter baits like plum and tuti fruiti. i have tried all kinds of fish and meat based boilies and still the fish r not big . however as it is only a dawn till dusk lake i have found that the time of day plays a big roll in the size of the fish i am catching but im still certain im doing something wrong ….any tips would be greatfully recieved thanks

  3. Mike from Homemade Boilies Quest says:

    A very interesting read, thanks for sharing your wisdom and baiting approuch

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