Over the course of this trio of articles we are going to delve into the art of boilie fishing and how to utilize them into your own fishing to maximize success. These articles are primarily aimed at the American Carp Angler and as such will include some basic information that our European counter parts take for granted. My approach is to start with a clean slate and I am not going to assume that everyone reading already knows the in’s and outs of the humble boilie. If you do not believe that boilies work or that they are equal and in some cases better than the most popular US baits, then either read on with an open mind or stay in your comfort zone. I am not trying to convert anyone to boilies, far from it. What I will attempt to do is firstly examine why and how boilies were developed, the different forms they come in, how to utilize them and apply them to your own fishing and finally offer recipes, tips and tactics.¬†

Boilie varieties

First off, let me state that in the USA, boilie fishing is still relatively in it’s infancy. While many Ex-pats use boilies to good effect I am still amazed at some of the beliefs and comments from the average American carper. These range from being sceptical at best to down right decrying boilies as useless in USA waters. This is simply not the case. While other baits are very successful, there is no doubt that the boilie in all of it’s forms can be an important addition to the carper’s armory. Let me expand on this thought and answer some of the common misconceptions.

Sweetcorn/Maize is a far better bait

Sweetcorn is one of the most instant baits there is, full stop. Maize is not far behind and there can be no denying the effectiveness of all other manner of baits including bread, worms, various particles, dough balls and all manner of others. These all have their time and place and if you are looking to catch lots of different species of fish of varying sizes then these are ideal. Where the boilie comes into it’s own is in it’s selectiveness. While I cannot guarantee you will not catch other species, you will cut down on them significantly.

Maize is an excellent bait

Maize is an excellent bait

A mixed bag on sweetcorn!

A mixed bag on sweetcorn!

Boilies require a heavy baiting campaign in order to work

While carp that are unfamiliar with boilies may take time to start picking them up, this reason is often used as an excuse for poor watercraft. If you can locate regular feeding areas to present your baits then no doubt they can be effective right from the start. Carp are curious creatures and if new foreign items are introduced into their habitat they will definitely inspect them. In the case of boilies, as long as you have a bait that is acceptable to them and that they like the taste of they will start to eat them straight away. This is an area I will address in more detail in Part II.

A big Fully Scaled Mirror taken from a water where 'they don't take boilies'!!

A big Fully Scaled Mirror taken from a water where ‘they don’t take boilies’!!

 High quality boilies and ingredients are hard to source in the USA

While this was no doubt true several years ago, this is no longer the case. Several US companies offer boilies for sale, including many of the well known brands from Europe such as Nash, CC Moore, Dynamite, Solar, Minstral and many others. Base mix ingredients, additives and liquid flavors are also fairly easy to source and it is now relatively easy to make your own baits, should you wish. Even if you do not want to buy specific ingredients you can improvise and use other items easily available in grocery stores, health food stores and Feed and Grain stores. I will delve into this aspect in more detail in Part III, including several home made boilie recipes.

Sourcing boilie ingredients in the US is now relatively easy

Sourcing boilie ingredients in the US is now relatively easy

Boilies require advanced rigs and special tactics for use

There are hundreds of rigs available to the modern carper and one can become confused with the endless possibilities. However, simple and reliable products and rigs are all you require for boilie fishing. Personally, I stick to 3 or 4 rigs in varying combinations for the majority of my fishing and can attest that my results do not suffer. You can use the same rigs for boilies as you would for any other bait. My own favorite rigs are very simple.


Having answered some of the common misconceptions lets take a look at when and why the boilie came into existence. It was during the 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s when only a small percentage of anglers were interested in targeting carp. This was an exclusive and secretive group, but once an outstanding development came into use it was hard to keep it under wraps. Take for example the tale of Rod Hutchinson and Chris Yates who stumbled onto fishing with sweetcorn while using it as a sandwich ingredient. They stumbled upon it as a bait and then preceded to catch many more carp than previously imagined, all on the hallowed Redmire Syndicate. Determined to keep it to themselves it was only a matter of weeks before the other members were using it! Think of all the carp that have been caught on sweetcorn, just because Chris Yates had some left over from his lunch! The hair rig is a similar tale, with Len Middleton and Andy Little using it to haul large numbers of carp that were previously thought to be pretty much uncatchable. While they did manage to keep it to themselves for a while, word soon got out and the rest is history. I would hazard a guess that 99% of carpers today use the hair rig in one form or another.

Chris Yates with 'The Bishop' taken on 3 grains of sweetcorn.

Chris Yates with ‘The Bishop’ taken on 3 grains of sweetcorn.

The boilie shares a similar tale. Anglers had used paste baits for years, burying their hook inside the concoction and sitting by their rods waiting to hit a twitch or a rustle! With the invention of the hair rig this practice was pretty much dead overnight, but the problem with paste baits is they were attractive to a lot of species, other than carp. Anglers would constantly get knocks and hits as small fish picked at the paste. This was solved by lightly boiling the paste for 30 seconds or so to put a skin on it and make it resistant to other nuisence species. The boilie was born. Fred Wilton is often credited with inventing the boilie as it was his development of boiled paste baits that first set the standard. With the invention of the hair rig, boilies became instantly more practical as it was now easier to present a harder bait without having to bury a hook inside of it. In 1983 Richworth Baits became the first company to commercial produce boilies and offer them in larger quantities to the average carp angler.

Richworth Tutti Frutti's, one of the first baits to be made commercially available

Richworth Tutti Frutti’s, one of the first baits to be made commercially available


During the 1980’s many new bait companies appeared on the scene and started to really develop boilies as we know them today. Initially, most companies offered a small range of baits as well as base mixes and flavors and it was during this time that some truly forward thinking anglers experimented and gave us many of the combinations we see available today. A few of these companies still thrive today, including Nutrabaits, Nash Baits and Hutchinson baits, to name a few. It was during the 90’s that the boilie boom really took off, as it now became much more cost effective to purchase baits in quantity as the big companies had already done the leg work sourcing ingredients and suppliers. Today we have a myriad of options available to us, but we must thank the innovator’s like Fred Wilton, who thought outside of the box to solve problems and make the modern carp angler’s life much,much easier.

Modern boilies

Modern boilies


There are numerous options available to us today, but lets take a look at a few different types that are most common:

Frozen or Shelf life: For the American angler we do not have the option of ordering frozen boilies from the big bait companies as they would be ruined by the time they arrived in the country, plus they would never pass through customs!! Ten years ago, I would have been wary of shelf life (ready made) boilies, but nowadays they are pretty much on a par with the fresh version. Most consist of the same ingredients and apart from a preservative are exactly the same. I would hazard to say they can even be superior as they are much more easily stored and do not go off after a few days. This means they do not have to be air dried, which is a common practice with frozen baits.

This fish has a liking for boiles, as I've had her 3 times in the last year, each time on ready-made boilies.

This fish has a liking for boiles, as I’ve had her 3 times in the last year, each time on ready-made boilies.

Commercial or Home-made: As I mentioned, commercially available shelf life boilies are extremely practical and I use them all the time. However, I am partial to making my own baits having done it for a couple of decades. The advantage of home-made bait is that you can tailor the flavor, base, color, additives and so on, to suit your chosen water. As a guide I tend to use shelf life baits and frozen baits in equal amounts.

Making my own bait is second nature to me, having done so for over 20 years

Making my own bait is second nature to me, having done so for over 20 years

High attract or food based: This really comes down to your own fishing scenario and the water and fish you are looking to target. For example, on waters where the fish have never seen a boilie before I may use very bright and highly attractive (more flavoring) boilies to encourage the carp to pick them up. Generally, once they have started to eat them I will then add in food baits to the mix and over time usually progress solely to food baits. High attract baits tend to work much better in the short term, but if you are looking to spend any amount of time on the same water I would suggest a food bait would fit the bill much better. With food baits, the carp soon recognize them as an easy meal and will actively search them out. What makes a good food bait? I would say as long as you have a decent base mix, that is high in fishmeal, birdfood or protein and a few additional food additives you will be fine. I am not a big believer in adding too many ingredients into my baits and most will consist of the base mix, eggs, liquid or dry additives, sweetener and a flavor profile. In fact one of the best food baits I ever used consisted of just 3 ingredients; a red seed base mix, eggs and an amino additive. Plain and simple, the fish couldn’t get enough of it.

So now we’ve looked at the why and when boilies were developed and what basic types are available, we will now look at how to utilize them and use them in your own fishing. Make no doubt about it, boilies can be devastating in the right situation but understanding when, where and how to use them is often misunderstood. In Part II we will look at several of these permutations and discuss several different methods when using boilies.

A proper boilie muncher

A proper boilie muncher