Applying Bait Tactics to Catch Carp

Photo of a Zig Caught CarpCarp Caught Using A Zig Rig!

General Bait Applications & Tactics

Before we start on applying your chosen bait, it might be best to think about how you choose the bait before applying it. Choosing the best bait to use on your local lake can be a difficult task itself. But, rather than treating it like a lottery by trying to get lucky with your selection, why not take your time and narrow your options? There are a few ways to make sure you’re generally on the right track for bait selection from the start.

Try A Little Light Research on Baits

Ask other anglers on your lake what bait they are catching fish on, and then use that bait, or if too many anglers are using it, try a similar alternative. But don’t stop at that, it’s also a good tip to note what type of bait other anglers ARE NOT CATCHING on, then stay away from that bait or any similar alternatives. The reason for this is that carp will eventually start to associate danger with a bait that frequently catches them out. For instance, if the majority of a lake’s carp has been caught on yellow, pineapple boilies over the last few years, then there’s a good chance that they have developed an association of danger with the colour yellow and/or the smell of pineapple. In this case, it may be best to avoid using yellow and / or pineapple baits altogether. 

This is one reason why knowledge of the lake you wish to fish is so important. It’s always a good idea to talk to the bailiff and/or other anglers when targeting new waters. It’s also possible to find out information about a lake using the internet, try browsing the forums and ask about the bait used on a specific lake. Do your homework and it may pay off in heaps!

Once you believe you have a great bait you need to apply it well. Baiting and presentation tactics are an important part of successful carp angling. You should realise that many carp will only be caught in a situation that includes an element of surprise, and the more unique the surprise is, the better your results are likely to be. Having a unique method of applying your bait will give you an edge over most anglers who choose to use ideas printed in the magazines. These anglers will rarely do as well as the author simply because the carp have seen it all before and had chance to learn and adapt to it!

Now let’s look at some ideas on ways to apply your bait

1. If you know there are definitely carp in your swim, try using unscented boilies (you can make these and always carry a small bag). Not many anglers would dream of doing this but, if you think about it, carp use their smell to check out food items, if they can see it but can’t smell it, they may be inclined to taste it in order to check if its food. Sometimes you only need a fish to pick up the hook bait and your rig can work its magic and hook it. This idea came to me in my early, rookie years when I used a cheap bait that seemed to have no smell, yet I caught two of the biggest fish in the lake. A similar incident happened to my cousin many years ago. He always left his rods set up in the holdall. On one rod he had two, dried up, small boilies which had discoloured and cracked, plus they seemed to have lost all smell. Within an hour of casting the rig out he caught the biggest carp in Larford lakes

2. Use balanced baits to counter the weight of the hook. These allow the hook bait to move in a more natural way, similar to the other free offerings. I have used balanced hook baits over the last few years, and I have found them to be the best way to get more bites. When I first read about them I thought it was all rubbish, but to be honest, I probably wanted them to be rubbish simply because of the effort involved in getting them right. They are not quick or easy to do. BUT, I recommend you try them, I honestly believe you will see a difference in runs!

I have shown many of my Critically Balanced Baited Rigs on this site! Also, more Rig Ideas Here!

3. If everyone else seems to be spodding out beds of particle baits, then try using just boilies with a stringer of two or three free baits. On the other hand, if there are a lot of anglers that seem to be fishing with boilies alone, whether in PVA bags or sticking out boilies at range, then try going back to old methods of fishing baits over particles, such as corn over hemp or maggots over groundbait. Remember don’t be afraid to try different ideas in bait application and presentations. 

4. If you have been using trout pellets to bait up, then why not try using small pellets on the hook. I have caught many big carp on a smaller hook with 6mm pellets, along with a PVA bag of bigger pellets surrounding the hook bait. This is the opposite of what many anglers will do, and often catches a carp off guard!

5. Try stacking 4 whole boilies on a hair but, make sure that one or two are pop ups in order to make it more buoyant. This may seem extreme but, with no other free baits out there it will just look like a different presentation that many carp haven’t seen before.


6. A single baiting tactic may be a great way to catch bigger carp if the majority of “weekend” anglers on the lake have a habit of piling in large beds of bait and sitting behind the rods. Many carp in a popular lake may have learned that diminishing beds of bait usually means safety, this is logical because the angler has gone home so he cannot continue topping up the bait bed. Remember you should be adapting to the way other anglers target the fish as well as the feeding habits of carp.

7. If you use single bait tactics then try overloading the hook bait with attractants. Yes, this may make the bait horrible to taste but, you only want a single fish to pick the bait up and you’ll hopefully hook into it. This tactic is more about attracting single fish to the hook bait rather than to try getting a shoal feeding in the area.

8. Use two dissolving attractor capsules (available in tackle shops) and fill them with two types of liquid; an oil and a flavour attractant. Or you could try filling them with liquids of varying densities, for example, a dense liquid attractant so that it leaks out but remains around the bottom of the lake bed, and a less dense liquid so it rises up to attract passing carp higher up in the water. 

9. Cut a boilie in half then thread both pieces onto the hair the opposite way round. This will create a shape similar to a dumbbell, and can be enough to fool bigger carp.

Selecting the correct peg to fish in can be the best way to apply any bait. Why not be different? If you know where all the weekend anglers are going to be, then choose a peg close to an area where the carp will retreat to. In other words, fish away from where the majority of anglers go. If possible, apply your bait to an area where carp are unlikely to associate with danger. This is especially effective when trying to introduce a new bait to a lake.

The Best Type of Carp Baits

General Bait Tactics for Carp Fishing

New Carp Bait Applications

Baiting Campaigns Help Catch Bigger Carp

Carp Bait Basics

The Best Ingredients used in Carp Bait

Long Carp Fishing Sessions

Digestive System in Carp


Failing to Catch Wary Carp

More Carp Fishing Advice & Articles

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How Often Should We Use Pop-Ups on Fishing Rigs?

Fishing Report for Linear Complex Brasenose One

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What Fishing Situation Best to Use Pop up Hook Baits?

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How to Catch Carp in Snags & Under Tree lined Areas

Using Single Bait Methods to Catch Out Large Carp

How to Tackle Crayfish Problem Fishing For Carp

What Area to Choose When Fishing a New Lake

How to Catch the Carp from Margins of Pools

Pre-Bait Fishing Tactics to Trick Huge Carp

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How to locate Shoals of Carp in the Springtime

How to Locate Big Fish in Local Lakes During Summer

What are the Best Baits for Catching Big Carp?

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How Does Raining Affect Carp Feeding Patterns?

Fishing Reports on Linears Lakes - Hardwick & Smiths

How to Stalk for Large Carp in the Margins

Can We catch Big Carp On Cheap Bait?

River Fishing for Large Carp in Rivers