Anglers all over the globe tend to have one question that is common to the carp as a species. What do you use on your hook? To be quite frank, there is no genuinely easy answer. Most of us have heard about a friend of a friend who has caught fish his entire life on absolutely nothing but a single piece of nightcrawler. Does this happen? Yes, but how often? Not very often.

Then, there are those of us who have heard rumors about the big scary koi that is lurking beyond the depths of such and such a pond and it will not bite anything an angler throws at it. Still, there are those who regularly catch the species because they use the best carp fishing baits. Bait selection is success. They are important enough to make your day or break your day.

This is ultimately what makes catching instead of just blindly casting into the water. If you can use the same things that the professionals use, you will catch more fish in the long run and have a lot more fun doing it. We have comprised a list of these particular choices. They are generally ordered in terms of effectiveness, yet any of these may work better or worse depending on the factors affecting the water you fish. Carp are picky so you need to adapt.

Even so, the options depicted in this list will be the basis for which your foundation of success is found. The options in this list are the most effective anywhere in the world if you want to catch common carp. They are quite simply the best. Give them a try. Great fights are right around the corner! You can be sure to hear the drag scream if you fish with these. Common Carp love them.

1. Feed Corn Or Dried Maize – The Best Carp Fishing Bait

A pile of feed corn, maize, deer corn, or cattle corn.

Claiming the very top spot happens to be feed corn. Also called deer corn or cattle corn, it is the very same stuff that they use to feed livestock as well as wild game. Since it is very dry and hard in its raw form, you will need to boil it and make it soft before you can fish with it. The fish will eat the corn dry but once they consume it, it will expand in their stomachs and it could kill them.

Boiled feed corn is extremely cheap and extremely versatile. A single bag of corn weighing well over forty pounds is only about ten to twelve dollars at most hunting stores and feeder supply outlets that sell it. That makes over two hundred pounds of wet bait. You will get a ton of catches with that much corn. The individual kernels are also much larger than traditional canned sweet corn so it attracts fewer smaller fish.

You can chum with it as well as use it as hook bait. It is a great additive to add to almost any readily available chum. The reason corn works so well is that the targeted species is naturally used to eating plant matter as well as foraging for seeds and berries that fall from trees. Some fishermen will have to be careful regarding the use of corn as some water bodies regulate or outright ban it from use. It is also a very huge kernel so it attracts much less small species.

It also prevents them from cleaning out the hotspots to quickly. Local laws can allow or completely ban corn as a legal bait option. It takes some preparation on your part but it is still a very nice option to try.

2. Canned Sweet Corn Or Hominy – Smaller Kernels

Sweet corn or maize inside a bowl on a table in a dark room.

Next, in line, we have another type of corn. Sweet corn. Sweet corn from a can is one of the most used choices of food to catch Koi and related species and for good reason. All you have to do is pick a few cans up from your local grocery store, crack them open, and you are already ready to go. It hardly costs anything and you can even buy it in bulk for lenient discounts on the dollar.

The kernels are already exceptional performers by themselves by you can also use them in pack baits and particle baits for added effect. Rig a single piece or five on a hair rig. Use slingshots, bait rockets, or your bare hands to thoroughly chum the area with the corn. Use a piece of fake plastic corn on a hair rig with a method lead for a very effective setup.

This type of food is not very expensive and it can be stored in your tackle box or bag for a very long time. Remember once again that corn is highly regulated or even prohibited in some waters. Check your laws to be sure it is ok to use. If it is legal to use, we highly recommend giving this particular canned good a try. Many fish have fallen head over heels in love with the soft kernels that this particular food has to offer. Sweet corn is used by pretty much every carp angler in the world. It is cheap and effective.

3. Boilies – The Most Classic Carp Bait In The World

The most popular and classic carp bait in the world is the boilie. Boilies are hard, boiled, balls of dough bait or paste. A lot of different ingredients are included in boilies. Some of these include fish meal, corn, white millet, birdseed, maple syrup, molasses, chocolate, and fruit flavorings just to name a few different ingredients. Also included in most kinds are flour and eggs.

These are used as a binding agent. They are best used on a hair rig. You can easily chum boilies and they also make a great addition to any miscellaneous mix you could think of. In addition, you can also make them yourself. As long as you have flour, eggs, a little attractant, and a pot of boiling water, you can make as many as you want. Commercially made boilies come in extremely small sizes all the way up to huge forty millimeter-sized pellets.

They are also renowned for attracting catfish as well. If you are after catfish, you can easily find success on a hair rigged boilie. You can also simply hook a boilie if you are not into using hair rigs. You can also chop them up to make a particle bait take on the flavor of the boilies. To chum them, you can use slingshots, your bare hands, or even a PPA stringer rig.

They come in two varieties.  Bottom and pop-ups. Pop-ups are neutrally buoyant and float right above the bottom. The others are bottom boilies. If you want to make them yourself, just follow all of the same steps, but do not boil them. Instead, throw them in the microwave for a few seconds. It makes the egg inside expand and they become neutrally buoyant. Boilies were invented by fishermen in the United Kingdom specifically for these fish and this is one reason they are so effective. If corn is banned, use boilies!

4. Bread – A Great Additive For Other Mixes

Bread slice with bread rolls, a knife, a coffee cup, and a cutting board on a picnic blanket.

Classic white bread is extremely cheap and extremely effective. Most of the time, you can just hook a piece of a sandwich slice and get bit very quickly. You can also squish it into bread balls and fish it on a hair rig like a boilie. Bread by itself, is extremely soft and fragile. It falls off the hook rather easily. To prevent this, you can always use artificial bread instead.

Do they make artificial bread? Yes, they do. Well, technically it is not intended to be artificial bread but it still looks identical to it. You probably have some great artificial bread in your mattress or an old pillow. Don’t go ripping the stuffing out of your mom and dads master bedroom either. We are specifically talking about white memory foam.

It looks exactly like the real thing but its elasticity makes it extremely hard to tear off of the hook. Make sure to get the white stuff too. Some memory foam is yellow, pink, or blue. With that said, you can dip the memory foam into scents, flavors, and other attractants. Use real bread for chumming the area and make sure you cast into the middle of the pile. You can also use bread crumbs (Panko) as an additive for making pack bait, chum, or ground bait.

It acts as a binder to hold everything together. Bread tends to be soft and pliable. Also, it tends to attract much smaller fish. Bread for the targeted species is better used as an additive than a primary attractant for these reasons. Every panfish from kingdom come will come to rip it off and steal it so be careful. Still, it is inexpensive and is very effective if and only if you can get it in front of the fish.

5. Chickpeas/Garbanzos- A Great Corn Substitute

Chickpeas or garbanzo beans with juice from a can.

Chickpeas or garbanzo beans are not the first things that come to mind when you think of fishing but the rough fish just love them. They make really good chum and are awesome to use dry or wet. Chickpeas are also a great alternative to corn in places where corn is not allowed. Usually, dry and canned versions are about the same as far as effectiveness.

Another option for garbanzo beans is that you can use it as a particle bait ingredient. You can even mix them together for those picky eaters who may not care for one or the other. Chickpeas are inexpensive too. They are a very effective and affordable choice. You can even place them on the end of your hook and use it as a normal hook offering.

They tend to stay on the hook much better when dry than if they were wet or canned. Make sure to cast into where you are chumming at. When canned, they do tend to fall off the hook rather easily so use a hair rig to prevent this from happening. A lot of small panfish cannot get the legumes in their mouths so this means that you can weed them out. Many may suggest that corn is more effective than chickpeas but for some places, you just don’t have an option. Don’t hesitate giving them a try if you cannot use corn.

6.Yellow Mealworm Beetle Larva (Mealworms)

Mealworms inside a cooking pan with vegetables and greens.

Mealworms are the larval form of the yellow mealworm beetle, a species of darkling beetle. Although they already have earned their reputation amongst the angling industry for their uncanny ability to target panfish such as bluegill and other sunfish, they are an absolutely incredible bait for all carp species. You can hook a few on an ordinary jighead and reel in catches that way, or you can chum with them as the main ingredient or a secondary one in another mix.

Mealworms are easily sourced at most pet stores or fishing supply outlets for very little money. In pet stores, they are used to feed pet reptiles, birds, and goldfish. Do you know what that means? This means that they are just as effective at catching wild goldfish and related species. In fishing departments, they are kept in the bait fridge with the European nightcrawlers.

If you purchase them in bulk, they are easy to chum with and get the fish feeding actively. They are very easy to take care of and require almost no maintenance on your part. They tend to target every size of fish as well. All panfish love them so remember to wary of this before you try them out for others.

7. Bird Seed Or Poultry Feed – Little Of Everything

Bird seed with sunflower, flax, millet, and dried fruit.

Bird seed can be used for more than just feeding the birds. It can be an awesome bait as well. Since carp tend to eat the nuts and seeds that fall from trees into the water, birdseed is a no brainer. Bird seed also has a decent variety of different grains, seeds, and legumes mixed in depending on which kind you decide to get. That means it works well in waters with picky eaters.

If you have picky fish, it has a little bit for everybody. Like you would feed corn, you will also need to boil bird seed so it gets soft enough to use without being hazardous. It makes one of the best chums you can use because it keeps feeders in the area for a very long time. They take a while to pick up every little piece. Birdseed also costs almost nothing to buy and use in bulk.

You can buy a twenty to a fifty-pound bag of traditional bird feed for about twenty dollars. You can also add other things to the mix if you prefer. You can add feed corn, chopped boilies, hominy, and even white millet if you choose. Since you cannot really directly put birdseed on a hook or a hair rig, you must instead mix it in with a bait that you can put a hook with such as corn, boilies, mealworms, or maggots. Experiment to find what produces the best results. Different fish will prefer to have different food.

8. Earthworms – Getting Back To The Basics

Earthwrms and dirt being held inside a pair of hands.

One of the oldest hooked creatures in fishing history. If you fish today at all, chances are likely that you have caught fish on worms at some point in your lifetime. It doesn’t matter the species of worm that you choose to use either. You can opt for European nightcrawlers for a thicker and more hearty offering. They work great!

You could also choose to hook on a red wiggler for a tantalizing wiggle inside the strike zone. They produce an action that is almost irresistible to everything with scales or fins that swim. Mankind has used worms as fishing bait for many decades already. They just work. Keep them alive or use them dead, most of the time it doesn’t matter. You can hook them as is, or use them as an ingredient inside of an effective ground bait or chum.

The biggest problem is that they will attract every last hungry mouth in the area to your hook rather quickly. If you are trying to target a certain species, it may prove a little more difficult to keep a baited hook long enough to get your intended one. They are not generally the cheapest bait in the box but they are not absurdly expensive either. You could always build a worm farm if you are worried about the price at all. Try them out!

Food For Thought – There Are Many Great Carp Baits

Make no mistake. The best way to catch common carp is to use the right bait. Without the right one, you will have a much harder time hooking into any fish. Always make sure to use the right one. The best ones by far are feed corn, sweet corn, boilies, bread, chickpeas, mealworms, birdseed, and earthworms, in that order. Using these will make you have much more success as they have proven themselves over and over again to be effective on all species in almost all waters. Utilizing these will greatly increase your game. Give them a try. It is very much worth it. All good carp anglers and guides use these.

What baits do you prefer to use for carp fishing? Leave a comment below to let us know!

Similar Posts


  1. I have used bread, sweet corn, earthworms, bread is easy to scatter but the result is the best in my experience. Though I am just a amateur, but I really like your posts.It’s professional and interesting. I learn a lot about fishing from you.Thank you, David.

    1. David Moore says:

      Hello there. Yes. I agree. Bread is an awesome bait for many species. I am glad you found the information in the post helpful and I do wish you the best of luck out on the water. If you need anything, contact us directly.

  2. Jeffrey Teo says:

    I like your post and it brings back good memories when I used earth worms to catch fishes when I was little. You’ve given so many other types of baits and some I was not even aware that they existed. Well done.

    1. David Moore says:

      Oh yes. Earthworms are the mainstay of fishing in general. Everything about fishing worms is fun. Could not agree more with that. I am glad it helped you! 🙂

  3. David, the corn would surely be a blast to try on catfish! I hooked a huge Buffalo, a couple years ago. I thought my line would break for sure! Garbanzo beans are interesting bait possibilities. They would likely be good partially mashes in mesh, for using on hooks. This is really cool and I look forward to more great content. Your tips will work great here, in Southern Indiana!

    1. David Moore says:

      Hello Troy. You are right. Corn is an excellent Channel Catfish bait. Buffalo also seem to love the taste of corn too. It is wonderful that you caught that monster! The mesh technique is a great one and would surely work. I am glad you found the content good and helpful. Never been fishing in Indiana before. Maybe I should try. Take care! 🙂

  4. Christopher Cline says:

    Totally new to fishing. But when you use bread, what actually goes on your hook? Thank you again for helping a newb out

    1. David Moore says:

      Hello Christopher. Good to see you! When you use bread to catch fish, you have a few options. The first one is using actual bread. Just a piece of sandwich bread ripped off a slice and put onto the hook. You can probably see how hard this is going to be to fish with. Once that hits the water, its either going to fall right off because it gets wet or Bluegill will come and steal it. You have the option of chewing the bread in your mouth and rolling it into a ball with your hands before putting it on the hook. That stays on a little better but not by much. To solve this, use white memory foam instead. If you need anything else, let us know!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *