Secret Carp Baits: How Thinking Outside the Box Catches More Carp

As anglers, we are hunting for that mystical lure, the “unbeatable bait” that will ensure a stellar catch every time. However, let’s be honest; such a wonder doesn’t exist; otherwise, our beloved pastime would be called “catching” instead of “fishing”. What we can do, however, is tilt the scale slightly to our side with a few unusual yet effective bait choices. Are you ready for secretive tips on baits that could help you catch a carp? Here are some less common lures that you likely won’t spot on the shelves of your local fishing gear store.

So, what are these secret carp baits? As promised, we’re about to share some of our exclusive secrets. You might have already picked up a few hints if you’ve followed us closely! The trick lies in introducing baits that the bigger carp haven’t encountered. Some of these suggestions might appear unconventional, but they work wonders. You’ll forget their oddity when exhausted from reeling in prize catches!


Who can resist a generous chunk of cheddar? Certainly not the carp! Opt for mature cheeses that release a powerful aroma. You can cut your cheese bait into small cubes or use a bait punch to create bite-sized morsels. During my early angling days, cheese was one of my most successful carp baits that helped me reel in some fantastic fish.


Our bait list is starting to sound very continental, isn’t it? By “sausage”, we mean firm, easy-to-hook bait, like Pepperami. The red variant is a desirable choice for carp, thanks to its oily nature and slightly spicy aroma, earning it a spot on our top-secret carp baits list.


You can use the larger, fluffy marshmallows or even the tiny ones for cake decoration. Marshmallows are primarily visual attractors as they don’t release much scent. However, they make perfect floating bait due to the air trapped inside them. Plus, they make a sweet snack for you, the angler, in case hunger pangs strike!

Peas and Pulses

Try a more natural approach if the carp seem put off by potent smells. A can of kidney beans or peas could be your long-lasting bait solution. Consider these an alternative to your standard pellets. Though they lack a strong scent, many varieties come soaked in brine, providing a salty treat for hungry carp. Supermarkets are your best source for these baits.

Fresh Squid

As we mentioned before, carp are fond of fish. As a saltwater species, Squid is naturally saturated in salt throughout its life, making it an excellent bait choice.


Go local, go organic. Berries from the trees surrounding your fishing spot are likely to be a favourite of the local carp, who don’t solely rely on your pellet mix for sustenance. You might discover the next best carp bait by introducing something unique and natural.

Thai Fish Sauce

Here’s a fair warning – using this sauce might leave you friendless due to its overpowering smell. However, as a marinade for your bait, its potent aroma and salty nature will be irresistible to carp. Some anglers from a nearby lake introduced me to this trick. You can add this sauce to your other baits, such as pellets.

Pet Food

Did you know 8 out of 10 carp favour pet food, mainly when mixed with ground bait balls? (we made that up). Dog biscuits make great floating bait to catch surface-feeding carp. On the other hand, cat food offers a powerful scent that carp find hard to resist.


While it might not be the best-kept secret among carp anglers, the versatility of bread is worth a mention. You can go beyond mere bread flakes. A quick blitz of a loaf in a blender can create a perfect base for mixing in additional attractors like bloodworm, marmite, or oxo. Why not try bananas for a twist? That’s sparked an idea…


While potatoes might appear as a novel bait to you, their use traces back to days when boilies weren’t even in the picture. These starchy treats serve multiple purposes in carp fishing – as an ideal choice for hair rig and hooks, as a pre-baiting component, and in bait mixes. Their naturally sweet taste intensifies when boiled and becomes even more potent upon hitting the water.

While potatoes may not compete with boilies in effectiveness, they are a budget-friendly alternative that can be easily purchased in pre-boiled packs.


With its potent smell and spicy, oily nature, pepperoni turns out to be a wonderful lure for carp. It shines especially in diverse environments like rivers, lakes, and murky waters. Available in varied forms such as sausages, pastes, and squares, pepperoni can be used as a straight hook bait or on a hair rig.

Add extra pepper to amp up the spice to make this bait irresistible to carp. Besides its efficiency, pepperoni also scores points for being more economical compared to certain meats.


The slimy, resilient nature of slugs makes them an excellent bait choice for carp fishing with your hair rig. They are not only effective but also incredibly easy to use. Simply thread the needle through the slug’s back and head, then attach a tiny lead to the slug’s end. You’re all set to fish.

Carp find the massive amount of slime produced by slugs irresistible. For optimal results, choose calm or shallow water near foliage and, if possible, lily pads.


Snails, like their slimy counterparts, slugs, produce an abundant amount of slime that carp find irresistible. Their hard shell adds an extra crunch that carp relish. These attributes make snails a top-notch choice for carp bait.

Snails work best as slow-sinking hook baits. However, ensure to secure them tightly to the hook to prevent loss. Once a carp spot your snail bait crawling about, it will be nearly impossible for them to resist taking a bite. Similar to slugs, snails yield the best results in calm or shallow water close to foliage or, ideally, lily pads.


Carp are naturally drawn towards a bait that exhibits significant movement, making bloodworms a favourite among many anglers. If you’re new to marine angling, using bloodworms could be a thrilling endeavour for you. Their rich flavour often surpasses standard worms, making them a highly effective bait. Furthermore, bloodworms are quite versatile; they can be incorporated into a boilie mix, used as a slow-sinking hook bait, or applied on a hair rig.


Saltwater fishing enthusiasts have discovered that mussels can often lead to successful catches. Particularly effective in heavily fished waters like rivers or lakes, mussels can serve as a tempting bait for carp. Simply crack them open, thread them over your hair rig using a boilie needle, and you’ve got an enticing hook bait that carp find hard to resist. The unique taste, satisfying crunch, and slimy texture of mussels attract the fish.


This might be a bit peculiar, considering not everyone can handle Marmite. However, it’s important to note that carp are fans of sweet baits, and Marmite, with its honey-like stickiness and high sugar content, fits the bill perfectly. When introduced to the water, Marmite releases a good amount of sugar, attracting the carp. It can be used to soak your hook baits or as a paste to enhance the effectiveness of another bait. Avoid using it for pop-ups, as it negatively impacts the buoyancy, transforming your slow-sinking hook bait into a top bait, which doesn’t yield the best results.


Hempseed makes it onto this list due to its remarkable similarity to tiny snails, a food that carp find irresistible. The oily liquid that hempseed produces when soaked is highly attractive to carp. In scenarios where you’re using boilies as bait, adding hempseed can pull carp in and stimulate their food search, eventually leading them to your boilies. Alternatively, you can buy hemp oil and incorporate it into other baits.


Tuna stands out as an excellent bait for carp, and in fact, for most coarse fish species. The reason is simple – fish love the taste of other fish. Tuna is an ideal choice; rich in oils, more sustainable, and cheaper than many other fish.

What flavours do carp prefer?

Carp have a broad palate and can be attracted to various flavours. Experience has shown that the more exotic the smell of your bait, the higher the likelihood of success. Items like curry powder, marmite, and garlic cloves have been good in various fishing venues. The key seems to be in diversifying your options. Sticking to well-known and popular flavours is not always beneficial, especially in heavily fished waters. For example, ‘sweetcorn’ may be effective early in the season, but carp tend to lose interest in it as the season progresses due to overexposure.

What attracts carp?

While carp use their sense of sight to find food, they rely heavily on their sense of smell. When you observe carp grazing, they often have their heads pointed downward, with their noses in the silt. Selecting the right bait flavours can be like flipping a switch, sending the carp into a feeding frenzy.

What smells do carp like?

Carp are drawn to strong-smelling food. A hint of a particular smell might not be enough; you want your bait to teem with aroma and flavour. Remember that prolonged exposure to water will gradually ‘wash out’ the smell from your bait, necessitating a rebait. The less frequently you need to rebait, the better.

Carp is fond of salt, so don’t hesitate to get creative. Consider adding a dash of salt when making your boilies or experimenting with other bait. Coat your baits in marmite or dissolve an oxo cube into anything that can absorb the liquid.

Carp also love the smell of fish. This is where prawns can come in handy, as they’re packed with aromatic juices and possess an unusual shape that can catch carp off guard.

The use of Betaine, a substance found in the hard skeletons of crustaceans like crabs and shrimp, is growing in popularity. Soaking boilies, maggots, nuts, or sweetcorn in this rich dark liquid can significantly increase interest in your baits and improve bite rates.

What shape of bait is most effective for carp fishing?

The shape is another crucial factor to consider. Big carp may associate specific shapes with danger, especially in busy waters with round boilies. Choosing baits with unconventional shapes can give you an advantage.


When it comes to selecting bait, it’s advantageous to think creatively. The best-kept secrets of carp baits are not secrets at all. They are usually the result of an angler achieving great success by trying something different. So, why not follow suit? Try something new alongside your old favourites for at least 20 minutes. You might end up surprising not just yourself but the carp too!

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