People often ask me what I think is the best bait for Carp fishing. This is an incredibly difficult question to answer because, much like other species that are pursued here in Ontario, the answer can change by the season, day or even by the hour.
A common misconception is that Carp have taste buds and they can smell/taste as we do. This is not the case. Instead, Carp have chemoreceptors all over their bodies (not just their mouth and barbels), which respond to specific chemical signatures in the water.
These chemoreceptors act as a substitute for taste buds and saliva (the biology necessary for the senses of smell/taste), and this means that, contrary to public opinion, Carp do not actually “taste” your bait. And so the terms “flavour” or “scent” can be misleading when discussing Carp bait products—as they often are by fishermen and advertisers alike. As such, the terms “flavour” and “scent” will be replaced in this article by the more apt term “attractive/stimulating additives.”
For now, let us return to the question at large: What are the best baits to catch Carp? Well, numerous variables play into answering this question. And truthfully, no bait can guarantee a one-hundred percent success rate.
Of course, the use of live bait such as earthworms, bloodworms, maggots, etc. might seem ideal, as such natural food sources are common in the diets of many species of fish. Carp are particularly spooky fish, however, and are often found in areas with other species and are not nearly as aggressive as, say, a panfish. For this reason, presenting live bait to Carp can be a great challenge. Ultimately, you could go through your entire tub of worms before catching a Carp. As it is with all fishing, if you are going with the assumption that you will catch every time you go out, you are destined to receive an unfortunate newsflash. Even the professionals blank, after all. And sometimes for reasons well beyond their control.
That being said, in my years of Carp fishing, I have found some brilliant baits that seem to do well in a variety of scenarios—so long as they are rigged correctly. Here is a list of five of the best baits for Carp fishing. I think each of these is all must-have for every angler who heads to the bank in pursuit of Carp.
Corn is a classic choice of Carp bait, be it whole kernel, peaches and cream, frozen or canned; all are considered staples in the Carp-fishing industry. Almost every fish can be caught with corn.
I have heard of numerous people catching a variety of fish, including predatory species, on corn while fishing for Carp—even Muskie! It seems bizarre, of course, that corn/maize would be such a great option because it does not naturally appear in aquatic ecosystems. (Angelo Viola proved on camera that predatory fish will indeed eat corn. Check out this link. About midway through the video, Ang gets a real surprise.)
So, what makes corn so great? Well, let us look at what corn is—specifically, its nutritional content. Eighty percent or better of a single grain of corn is comprised of carbohydrates; the remaining twenty percent is divided up between fibre and proteins (these percentages fluctuate based on the strain of maize/corn).
What this means is that corn provides immediate energy for foraging fish. The presence of protein offers some nutritional value for growth, and the fibre makes it easy to digest. Add in the fact that corn is a highly visible yellow colour and is relatively cheap, and you tick off most of the boxes for what makes a great bait.
Fake corn is often used by Carp anglers partially due to its indestructibility.
Corn can also be rigged in a variety of ways.
The most commonly used methods for rigging corn is:
- to thread the corn directly onto the hook, and
- to use what is called a hair rig, whereby the corn is affixed onto a small length of braid which protrudes from the shank of the hook (click here to learn how to tie a knotless knot/hair rig).
Numerous Carp-bait manufacturers have “flavoured” maize products on the market. These are typically harder cattle-corn-like strains that have been hydrated under pressure while soaking in additives to create an even more attractive hook bait.
However, corn is not just an immediate source of energy for Carp, but other fish as well, and so bycatches are a possibility. (Also, prepare to be done-in by crayfish if they are present in your swim—they like corn almost as much as Carp!)
All in all, if you are looking for a great bait to get started into the sport of Carp fishing, I highly recommend corn. Not only because of how easy it is to get your hands on it or how cheap it is in bulk, but for its time-tested reliability making it one of the best baits to catch Carp.
Here’s what a hair rig looks like.
Another classic bait for Carp is bread—namely white bread. Imagine fishing all day without a nibble as the fish just did not seem to want to put their noses down, only to find that something presented above their heads would have done the job (here, I speak from experience).
Bread, like corn, is a relatively cheap option that, if fished correctly, can be absolute dynamite. Similar to corn, a slice of bread is seventy-five percent carbohydrates, providing Carp with immediate energy.
The remaining twenty-five percent is divided up between protein, fibre and fats, which means that there is indeed some nutritional gain from bread, and it is easy for Carp to digest. How often have we seen bread and grain products being offered up to ducks on a waterbody with Carp close by or even joining in on the munch?
I find bread is a fantastic option in springtime as Carp are just waking up and are looking for something light that will not overwork their metabolics. Think about it: That bread at East Side Mario’s is what most of us look forward to before the main course! Bread can be fished in a variety of ways, but it is rather fickle.
Typically, you will get only one cast per small piece of bread on the hook when it is presented on the surface, so try and make each one count. Bread can also be compressed around the hook leaving just the barb exposed; this offers longevity to the bait, extra casting distance, and an option as a slow sinking presentation.
Be mindful of any waterfowl in the area, as this, of course, could lead to a very unwanted bycatch! Overall, bread is a great option when the conditions are right. And it can be rigged in a variety of ways to suit many different scenarios. Plus—like corn—it is also cheap and accessible! Save those heels!
CONTINUE TO PAGE 2 FOR WILL’S TOP THREE CARP BAITS.