Simon Scott reveals his all time top seven carp baits, in reverse order, and explains why he believes they are so good.
THE carp market today is awash with quality baits. For the young or inexperienced angler this can be a nightmare. How do you know which bait to use? Out of all the baits in your local tackle shop, which should you buy and why?
Over the years I’ve used most of the baits you can find in a tackle shop, and more besides. I have spent many hours mixing up many noxious-smelling products in my kitchen, many hours boiling up different types of particles and seeds, and many hours mixing obscure flavours in an attempt to find the ultimate carp bait.
Some of these baits have been highly successful, others have failed miserably. In fact, some of the baits I’ve made over the years have been more successful at actually repelling carp than attracting them!
However, no matter how much experimentation you do, I can almost guarantee that the best carp baits of all time will not change. The seven I’ve written about here have done the business for me on numerous occasions on some of the country’s hardest waters, and will do the business for you too if you fish well.
Before we get onto the business of talking about each bait in turn, I’d like to say that all the baits you can buy in your tackle shop will catch carp. They will work on their day, and some will even work better than my top seven baits – depending on the angling pressure the fish have received and the bait that has been used at the water concerned.
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|Vitalin – just add hot water!|
Vitalin is a dog food made from maize meal, meat and bone meal (among other things).
I’ve put it in at No7 because I’ve caught many fish over the years using it, especially during the winter months. My most successful winter campaign ever was based around Vitalin.
While I can’t name the water concerned, after a few weeks of gentle prebaiting with Vitalin groundbait balls (with added hemp, tigers, corn and boilies) I managed to catch many of the biggest fish in the lake.
Vitalin is at the bottom of this list because it’s not a hook bait (the same goes for hemp). It’s a groundbait which you can mix with all six other baits on this list, with the exception of the fluoro pop-ups. To make it up, simply pour hot water into a bucket of the dry mix, add other ingredients, stir it up and mould into balls. It’s that simple!
|Carp absolutely love hemp.|
All the hype you see and read about this seed is true. Carp absolutely love hemp. In fact, they think it tastes fantastic. Even a very small handful of the stuff can keep fish digging in the lake bed, looking for food, for hours and hours. I’ve actually stopped carp in their tracks by throwing individual grains of hemp in front of them.
There was one occasion when I was sitting up a tree, over the top of a previously baited area that had been cleaned by the carp. Two fish were cruising around, seemingly not feeding. One was much bigger than the other.
I flicked two or three grains (yes, grains!) of hemp into the water, several metres in front of the cruising fish. As the carp passed beneath the spot where the hemp had hit the surface, you could clearly see their animated reactions as they tasted the hemp oil in the water.
The two carp then cruised over the spot, came round in a big circle and descended exactly where the hemp had hit the bottom. Several more grains of hemp and 30 minutes later I caught the bigger one at well over 30lb!
People often ask me why carp love hemp. The truth is, no-one really knows – we can only guess. What I would say is that hemp oozes awesome smells and tasty oils into the water, and that carp find these oils really attractive. Also, the size of hemp and its texture is important. Carp love eating small aquatic snails, and hemp closely resembles these in size and texture.
|Simon prefers to fish pop-ups
as single baits
The fact I’ve put fluoro pop-ups at No5 might surprise some people. However, I love these little beauties!
Fluorescent pop-ups definitely seem to attract carp. Used on their own or as part of a more complicated trap, I have caught many carp in the last three years on fluoro hook baits.
I prefer using them as single hook baits. As fluoro hook baits are usually well overloaded with flavours, they are very attractive in their own right and don’t need to be used over a baited area. Fish are quite capable of homing in on them when they’re used as single hook baits because of the smell they generate within the water, and also because they can see them clearly (in clear water).
I think the contrast created between the fluorescent pop-up and the lake bed is more important than the individual colour of the bait. For instance, I have caught on white, popped-up fluoro baits fished over dark, silty lake beds, while bright yellows and pinks have been better when fished over weed.
When using fluoros, just think about the appearance of the lake bed and use a hook bait that will stand out against it.
Fluoros are especially good as single hook baits in the winter – and I mean as a SINGLE hook bait. There is a huge difference between having one hook bait by itself on the lake bed and one hook bait surrounded by three or four freebies.
If a fish is only going to sample one boilie, and you have three freebies, you only have a one-in-four chance of getting a pick-up. However, if a carp wants to investigate the smell and sight of a single hook bait, fished on its own, it has no choice but to take it into its mouth. Then, if the rig is good enough, a take will result.
This is a very good tactic for those readers who might not have much money, as single fluoro pop-ups will be all you’ll need to catch in a lot of situations. I use Crafty Catcher Neons, with the plum and squid flavours being favourite, and Dynamite’s Frank Warwick baits.
|Frozen boilies are better
than shelf lives.
Boilies catch the vast majority of carp across England every year. There are hundreds of excellent boilie types available to buy from tackle shops and bait companies across the country.
Out of all the boilies on the market, my advice would be to choose a fishmeal-based bait in the spring, summer and autumn. Also, frozen readymades tend to be better because they’re of a higher quality than the shelf life baits you can find in shops, so I’d recommend them over anything else.
With regards to which readymades to use, I can only advise on what I’ve been using – and have recently had success using Yateley Angling Centre’s Squirrel baits and the Tackle Box’s Ming boilies.
I believe you can buy them mail order from each shop if you want to try them, though in fairness all the major bait companies also produce excellent frozen fishmeal readymades.
You’ll often read advice telling you to get on the same bait as everyone else on your local lake. I wouldn’t necessarily go along with this. I am a firm believer in trying something a little different and creating your own, established bait. In the long term you’ll have better results doing this than using the same baits as everyone else.
The subject of boilies is a massive one. I can’t do it justice in the space I have available here and will look into it in more detail later in the series.
|Pellets reamain one of the all time great carp catchers.|
Pellets have been around for a very long time. In fact, Dick Walker used to mash trout pellets up and use them as a paste in the 1950s, I think! If he’d dropped them in a PVA bag and whacked them into Redmire, he’d have caned the place – there would have been wet, hessian sacks hanging from every tree!
Seriously, pellets remain one of the best carp catchers ever. I use trout pellets, salmon pellets and halibut pellets today on a regular basis – and I am a great believer in mixing and matching different sizes and varieties of pellets together to create a more-confusing baited area for the fish.
It is important to be aware that not all pellets are the same – the fish can taste the difference. I will give you an example of this.
One day I decided to test two different types of pellet on the carp in my pond. Both were exactly the same size, but of a slightly different colour. The first was a standard carp pellet, the second a high-performance trout pellet.
I mixed the two types together and dropped them into my large garden pond. One of my bigger mirrors cruised towards the baited patch and proceeded to hoover up virtually every pellet in one go! He then rose off the bottom of the pond with what must have been an enormous mouthful of food.
Using the filtering system in his mouth, within three or four seconds the fish blew just about every single carp pellet back out of its mouth – only dropping one or two trout pellets as it did so. It then swam off to digest a sensible-sized mouthful of trout pellets!
Only once the greedy old fish had eaten all the trout pellets did it decide to return and eat the carp pellets.
As I said, the carp can taste the difference. The difficulty for the angler is knowing which pellets are high-performance and which aren’t. Generally speaking, the more money a pellet costs, the better it is – something you should remember.
|A single tiger nut with no other bait around it is a deadly weapon!|
Tiger nuts are brilliant baits. They give off a great smell and the fish love eating them.
I once did an experiment with some tanked carp and some tigers. I placed a handful of the nuts in an old sock, so the carp couldn’t see them, and suspended the sock in the surface of the water. The carp couldn’t see what was in the sock, neither could they get hold of the bait.
The result was a tankful of fish frantically pulling at one of my cheesy old socks, trying to get at whatever was inside. So yes, carp love the smell of tigers!
But how should you fish with them? Well, less-experienced anglers might find it hard to believe, and I do accept it might take a bit of time to get your head around the concept, but a single tiger nut fished on its own with NO other bait around it is a killer weapon.
I have caught a number of large fish (over 35lb) on tiger nuts fished in this fashion, totally on their own. You can also fish a tiger over a very small bed of hemp; another tactic that’s been good for me.
To be honest, any tiger nuts are good, as long as they’re properly prepared. You can either make your own, buying the dry nuts in bulk from a specialist seed merchant like Haithes or Hinders, or you can use the more-convenient Dynamite tinned alternatives – which can be used straight from the can.
If you do make your own, remember that tigers are dangerous if used dry, without the right preparation. To make them safe, soak them for a minimum of 24 hours. Then bring them to the boil and let them simmer for 30 minutes before allowing them to stand in their juices for another 24 hours.
|Tinned corn has salt in it – another great carp attractor.|
|It obviously visually attractive too because plastic corn is so good.|
Corn is my No1 bait by some margin. Its colour, its taste and its texture are all highly attractive to carp. It has caught me a ridiculous number of huge fish, including my personal best of 52lb – the late Mary from Wraysbury.
My favourite brand of sweetcorn (and I’m not sponsored by any food manufacturer!) is Jolly Green Giant Niblets – they rock!
Seriously though, any corn will work. Apart from the fact carp like its taste, canned corn has sugar and salt added to it, which are both good carp attractors. Also, corn has a lot of highly-attractive amino acids that will give off food signals under the water.
The yellow colour of corn is also significant, and like the fluoro boilies it is an advantage when you use it over lake beds where it really stands out. You can use it in quantity or by itself – again, corn is a hook bait that will work very well on its own.
It’s also brilliant in cocktails with hemp and tigers. If you spod out a mixture of hemp and corn into your lake (75 per cent hemp and 25 per cent corn) you won’t go too far wrong.
One disadvantage is that it’s also liked by nuisance fish and often won’t stay on the hair for very long. If this is the case, try using plastic corn imitation hook baits. They do work very well! I have caught fish to over 30lb using plastic corn hook baits, fished both as single hook baits and over beds of bait.