Top 5 Carp Baits

Top 5 Best Baits For Carp Fishing

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.

1. Corn/Maize

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:

  1. to thread the corn directly onto the hook, and
  2. 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.

2. Bread

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!


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33 Replies to “Top 5 Best Baits For Carp Fishing”

  1. We recently arrived in Canada from South Africa, and I agree with Will 100%.

    When we fished back in S.A we had access to numerous shops and thousands of different makes of carp baits, so when we arrived here were shocked to see so little interest in local carp fishing and the prices of what is available is ridiculous.
    Using what we learnt back in S.A we made a combo of Corn, Bread and Cornflakes, sometimes adding Vanilla, Almond or Banana and using only Corn as hook bait managed to land close to 50 fish last summer out of Rice Lake largest being 9.8kg’s (21.6lbs) (wife) and 9kgs (19.8lbs) (Youngest Son 9yrs)
    I only landed a 8.95kg (19.6lbs).

    Corn and Bread are excellent cheap baits used alone or together you cant go wrong.
    Thanks for the article Will!

    1. Vanillin (an artificial additive to vanilla flavourings) has been a proven carp attractant for many years! Banana and almond “flavoured” baits have also been tried and tested and do exceptionally well on almost every water.
      Rice Lake is an amazing bit of water and I have had the pleasure to fish it along side some close friends and even guide Matt Hayes back in 2017. That lake is a mecca for carp in Ontario!


    1. As stated in the article, naturals such as earthworms, maggots and etc. are brilliant! The only issue is by-catch, which could pose a problem if you happen to be fishing a lake for carp where there is also species that aren’t in quite in season! Hence why I tend to avoid using naturals, to try and narrow my focus! Glad that worms and corn are crushing it for you though, definitely a good idea to combine the highly visual + immediate energy of corn with the nutrition found in naturals!

    1. Hey Sammy!
      You are absolutely right about that, as I don’t believe there are any COMMONS in Alberta. However, there are a few ponds with stocked Grass Carp as well as the invasive (but still firstly) Prussian carp. These two species can still be pursued using the same tactics as you would Common carp just be sure you check the rules on what to do with them after capture!
      Tight lines!

    1. You actually do!
      Last Mountain Lake has a very sizeable population. Though I am not certain of which tributaries and rivers that feed/flow from Last Mountain I would imagine that Common carp could be found in these systems aswell!
      My good friend Anthony Russell is the owner of the page Saskatchewan Carp Kings… Check it out!

  3. This was a fantastic read. I also read your article on carp fishing times, WillMuschett. I am a BC fisherman and caught my first carp in the province last year. There are so many so called “backwaters” here like sloughs, etc, that have great carp in them. I am actually going tomorrow to a marsh I know, for my first carp fishing expedition of the season, and fishing the afternoon/evening until last light. I believe many of the fish now are done with spawning and hungry, or at least that is my bet. Although the seasons and temperatures are different out here, I bet there are quite a few parallels from what you find in Ontario. Carp fishing over here is often an overlooked, untapped fishery, but it’s beginning to catch on. Any thoughts as to how essential it is to use a shrink wrap tubing at the hook shank-knotless know point when tying a hair rig? Heard it has something to do with increasing hook ups due to the angle. Also some people like using pear shaped sliding weights and others egg sinkers…personally I would think that whatever makes them feel the least resistance when they are playing with the bait right? Curious to know your thoughts.

  4. BC could very well become another Mecca for Canadian Carping, and you will be amongst the pioneers! As for shrink tubing/hook aligners they make a MASSIVE difference in terms of rig mechanic. For more information on this consult my article on Top 5 rigs!
    Finally in respect to the large weights, these are often used in association with “bolt” rigs which rely on a carp taking off with the presentation (well set up) and hooking themselves in the process… However many like a more subtle approach under the waggler float, to each their own!

  5. Yes corn is a good bait but I found out over years carp fishing at the best bait I’ve ever used is very simple quick oats with garlic powder grab a handful dip it in the water and squeeze it and open your hand slightly until you get a consistency of a dough ball it does take practice but once you learn it is killer the quick oats garlic recipe to me works better than the corn the quick oats leaves a milky trail in the water which the carp follow right to the bait

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