The Importance of Good Bait

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It really does make me smile when I walk around the banks seeing thousands of pounds worth of gear meticulously set up. Rods, reels, bivvies, alarms and in many cases; rod pods, bedchairs and landing nets which often run into the hundreds of pounds on their own.

It is almost as if the anglers are trying to actually buy an edge or is it buying confidence? It is great being in the position to be able to have the top of the range tackle on display making you look the part but how important is this in the actual grand scheme of Carp fishing?

In reality it isn’t important at all when it comes to catching a Carp apart from some of the real top end of the market rods and reels being capable of launching a lead a little further than the lower end of the market. But then again, how often in reality do we really need to cast maximum distances? I couldn’t tell you the last time I stretched myself to cast my maximum much preferring to use my watercraft and find fish in comfortable ranges.

But less of this what I often hear referred to these days as carp anglers ‘bling’ (whatever that is?)

Like it or not you can have the very best tackle available to man but without a bait the Carp actually want to eat you are getting nowhere. The fact is that until the Carp actually completes their part of the equation and decides to pick a bait up then you are never going to catch one regardless how good you look on the bank.


From my own observations most anglers understanding of bait appears to be a little bit of a dying art. There are less and less shops now keeping individual ingredients in stock that I would put my neck on the line and say that in general most carp anglers these days know less about bait than they did on the whole during the 1980’s when most still made their own.

Fortunately this isn’t really a problem as there are lots of companies out there producing and supplying ready manufactured bait for the Carp angler so there is no need to worry about putting the right ingredients in the right amounts now into a bait. No need to have to develop an understanding of stimulators and enhancers. No need to find out how water soluble some ingredients are at the side of others. After all if you need any plastering doing at home generally speaking you get someone to do it who understands the job and has done it for years.

Choose a bait dealer who has Carp fished for 30 plus years and the chances are they know a lot more about Carp stimulation from experiments right back in the paste and early boilie days than many will ever know.

So, how important is bait?

It really is critically important yet from my observations it is probably the main part of Carp fishing which is very much taken for granted with little thought on looking after bait to get the very best out of it.

Remember, bait is food and it is food that has to look, smell and taste as attractive as possible in order for the Carp to want to eat it in the first place. The carp have a lot of choice out there – somehow you have to make that choice easy for them.

I would be very happy if I had a pound for every phone call I have had over the years which have started off along the lines of… “How much can you do me 5kg of boilies for?”


The enquirer usually doesn’t usually care what is in the bait at all, so many simply want ‘cheap’. Sometimes we can satisfy their needs and sometimes we hear such and such can do 5kg for only…

A couple of weeks later said enquirer may be back on the telephone having spent thousands on fishing tackle, another £700 on a trip to France and duly caught nothing because 2 or 3 other anglers on the lake had offered the Carp something they would much rather eat so kept visiting their swim on a daily basis when they wanted to feast.

Do yourselves a favour and make your bait selection with a great deal of thought. It is one of the biggest decisions you will make in Carp fishing.

Ask yourself who put the recipe together, what track record does that company have. Are their baits really different to the other ones in their range or do they have one simple base mix and lots of different flavours? Are their baits just fashionable due to the large amounts of advertising?

You have to present the very best bait you can and then you can enjoy all of that expensive tackle so much more and actually be the part rather than simply looking the part.

Allan Parbery of Mistral Baits

I’m going to tell you a story now. Not so long ago I fished next to somebody who loves his ‘bling’. Tackle manufacturers and dealers must await people like him with baited breath.  Even though he has a limited income, and family commitments, his tackle is shiny. I expect he wipes down his rods and reels after every session and dries his bivvy out in the garage too. Me, well I’ve never done any of these things and I can’t see me changing either. This chap however won’t buy, or make, expensive bait. He would even baulk at half price stuff. Now maybe I had an advantage of years of experience, maybe I chose the right method or maybe I chose the right bait in conjunction with the other two. I had three thirties and three twenties in that session that lasted just a few hours. Mr Bling had one fish weighing around 20lbs, if I was being generous. We were within easy casting range of each other so why didn’t he catch? I took one look at his bait and wondered why he bothered – he paid £20 for 10 kilos of boilies from one of these tackle fairs. Enough said?

Tight lines

Allan Parbery

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