New PVA Bag Tactics to Catch Carp

Picture shows carp eating PVA BaitsA PVA Method of Attracting Produced this Carp!

When fishing for carp using PVA bags, it may pay to present your patches of bait in a slightly different way in order to give you an edge over other anglers that also happen to be using PVA bags as their tactic. Just placing extra bait into a bag won’t always encourage the bigger, wary carp to take the hookbait. They may have seen these neat, tightly packed bundles sitting on the lake bed many times before, and thus are wary of such a common, dangerous sight. This is especially true if many of the fish have been caught from using this tactic in the past.

You may need to change the way your hookbait, as well as the free offerings, lye on the lake bed once the bag has melted. I also feel it might be worth trying to find new ways of increasing the attraction within the bag so there’s more chance a carp will home in on your hookbait before leaving the swim. 

Here we have compiled new and different methods of using PVA bags. Using these methods means your hookbait presentation and attraction is more likely to be unique compared to any others on the bottom of the lake bed.

The Timed-Release Floating PVA Bag Tactic

This is a great bait presentation if you want a rig along with some slightly, scattered baits placed directly into a clear patch amongst weed beds or on small silt patches. This should be a less dangerous looking bait patch to many of the bigger carp in a lake, as it won’t look like a common PVA bag patch of densely grouped bait. 

I often use this tactic if I feel the carp will spook away from the use of a spod. It also increases accuracy for placing a lead on a tight, clear spot because you’ll have a second to position the bag exactly over the clear patch before it melts and the lead falls down.

To use this method, prepare a plain PVA bag as normal but only half-fill it with bait. Use boilies and pellets made up of different shapes and sizes. Leave the rest of the bag full with air and try not to squeeze it out when finishing off the bag. The air-filled bag gives it enough buoyancy to float while the bag melts on the surface. 

As the bag melts, the lead and rig will fall out the bag first, due to its extra weight. The free baits will fall at slightly different times due to their varying shapes and sizes. Some will disperse away from the lead a little, and some will fall around the hookbait. There will often be a few inches or more of space between the free baits and the rig. This means there will be plenty of bait surrounding the rig, but it won’t be a packed together like what normally happens when using PVA bags for carp fishing. This presentation creates a more natural looking feeding patch for the carp to feel safe for a quick feed.

I have found that the line needs to be slack until the lead has dropped to the bottom. A tight line will cause the lead to arc down as it falls and it’ll end up closer in than the falling free offerings. It may even pull into a weed patch and become caught up, so care and thought needs to be taken before casting the PVA bag out. 

Another good tip when trying out the floating PVA bag method, is to use a combination of chopped boilie, pellets, and broken baits, all so they form different shapes. This makes them fall at varying angles through the water. They disperse randomly which helps to create a more effective form of bait presentation from the normal PVA bag tactics.

The best time to use this PVA bag tactic is in shallower waters and when there are limited effects from the wind.

Remember to use PVA bags without the perforation holes in them or air won’t remain trapped in the PVA bag!


The Buoyant or Balanced PVA Bag Tactics

If the timed-release floating bag doesn't appeal to your way of fishing, or if it doesn't suit the type of venue you’re fishing, then what about using a slow-sinking bag or popped-up PVA bag?

This PVA fishing method is different to the timed-release bag above in that you do not place the whole rig inside the bag. Rather, you prepare the bag and then attach it to the hook, or you only place the last section of the hooklink inside the bag, leaving the lead outside and free to fall independently. 

This is ideal for situations where you want a hookbait and a few free offerings to lie gently on top of a soft weed patch. The lead will drop as normal, but the hook point won’t dig into the weed to become caught up as the bag holds it a few inches above the weed for a second before melting.

For a popped-up PVA bag, prepare the bag by placing in a small amount of bait but leave lots of air inside the bag before sealing it down. The air should be trapped inside the bag, a bit like an unopened bag of crisps feels when you shake it. The baits move around because the air has created space for them. This makes the bag become more buoyant so the bag just about floats (you may need to practice preparing the PVA bags beforehand). Now, attach a slightly heavier lead so the weight drags the bag down until the lead hits the bottom. 

For a few seconds, the bag will remain popped up just above your chosen underwater feature. When the bag melts, the contents will disperse nicely around the area of the feature and a new type of bait presentation will be created. If you only place the hook bait in the bag, you should not cast this rig too far or the hook could pull out of the bag. 

This fishing method should only be used for short distance casts to underwater margin features. It may also be a better PVA bag tactic for fishing deeper waters than the floating bag method because the hook bait will have less distance to fall.

Balancing A PVA Bag

The balanced PVA bag method is similar but, it is designed to sink slowly through the water. If the bag starts to melt halfway through the descent, it’ll create a scattered bait presentation – a nice change to normal PVA bait presentations. However, if thicker PVA bags are used or even double-bagged, it becomes a great way to place tight rig and bait clusters onto soft silt beds. This will be different to normal PVA bag used because the weight will normally make the whole bait sink down into the silt by some distance. With this method, the bait will show up clearly on top of the silt and easily visible to any passing carp.

The idea is easy, just follow the same guide as above but, place in enough baits so the bag starts to sink slowly. 

This PVA bag fishing method is much harder to achieve and will require much more practice to prepare. You need to find out exactly how many ideal-sized baits are required for the correct buoyancy to achieve a slow decent through the water. It may be best to test out creating perfect bags at home. Note down the exact bait size and number of baits, as well as the rig to be used, for creating a perfect slow-sinking bag each time.

Balancing a PVA bag can be a great fishing tactic in shallow water, or to present baits on soft debris like leaves. It will not work properly in deep water as the bag will melt too soon before getting anywhere near the bottom. I personally have never used this tactic, but I’m sure it will have its place in an angler’s armoury for some situations when targeting huge carp!

Free-Line PVA Tactics

If you believe that lead weights may spook carp then why not try free lining your hookbait out. Normally we need a lead weight to achieve any real distance, but using a PVA bag full of ten, or more, boilies will achieve casts of up to 60 yards without the need for a lead weight. 

To counteract the lack of weight, this fishing method may require the use of very sharp hooks, and possibly some other way to achieve effective hook penetration in order to set the hook properly when a carp takes the bait. 

Actually, while I think about it, why not use bait as weight?

Heavy boilies could be threaded onto the hooklink so they remain on the line, providing extra attraction and some additional weight to help set the hook when the carp picks up the single, available hookbait. You could make the hookbait critically balanced, and then it’ll more than likely be the first bait to enter a carp’s mouth. In fact, dissolving ball pellets would probably be better to use for threading onto hooklinks. Solid boilies will probably cause many aborted takes as some fish will probably attempt to pick up those threaded on the line. 

Personally, I would only free line in the margins because of the potential for bite indication problems that may occur when fishing at further distance. There may also be problems caused from the water currents when free-lining at range!

Catching Carp Without a Hookbait?

Another new tactical idea when using PVA bags is to place a bait-less rig inside the bag along with a small load of boilies. The idea is that the carp will suck at the mouthful-sized patch of bait, but your hook will fly easily into its mouth because it is the lightest item in the bag. Also, a hook without a bait attached to it means it cannot become hindered by the bait, so it’s free to turn quicker and catch hold in the flesh. 

Maybe this is worth a try?

I bet no one else is doing this!

Tips on using PVA to Increase Bait Attraction

Applying a New Carp Bait

Fishing for Carp in Rivers

Locating Big Carp in the Spring

Carp Location in the Summertime

Finding Large Carp in the Cold Winter

Location of Most Carp in Autumn

The Case for Quality Carp Bait

Fishing Tactics for Snags & Trees

Boilie Placement on the Hair rig

Different types of carp rigs to use

Attempting to Catch Wary Carp

A Carp's Digestive System in Detail

Ingredients used in Common Carp Baits

Common Baiting Tactics When Fishing

The Various Carp Bait used to Catch Bigger Carp

When to use Pop-ups or Bottom Bait for Carp Fishing

How to complete a Baiting Campaign on Lakes & Ponds

The Basic Carp Fishing Baits Used to Catch Large Carp

Fishing Tactics when Fishing for Carp during Long-stay Sessions


Advice & Articles on How to Fish for Big Carp