In Part 1 we discussed why boilies were developed and the various forms in which they are available. Having understood exactly why you would choose to use boilies we will now delve into the many different varieties that they come in. Before we get into the specifics I would like to point out that what follows is not a comprehensive list of the ways you can use boilies. It is very much an overview of the techniques I use and have utilized when using boilies to target American carp. All of the methods I will list have been used successfully by myself and several of my fishing companions and if a technique is not listed it is because I have not personally used it and as such can not either recommend it or discount it.

Air drying boilies is one of the ways to maximize shelf life

Air drying boilies is one of the ways to maximize shelf life


Boilies come in many forms, shapes and sizes:

Food Baits – Most food baits consist of either a fishmeal or birdfood base. Fishmeal based baits tend to be used more heavily in warm water conditions and birdfood baits are favored for colder water or year round use, based on digestibility and their ability to allow flavors to leak out easier. There are also many baits that are a combination of both fishmeals and birdfoods as well as having other ingredients in them, such as semolina, maize or soy flours, which help to round the bait out and make the mixes easier to roll. High nutritional value (HNV) baits are also popular for winter use, and these tend to have a much higher milk protein content.

The thinking behind food baits is to make a product that is nutritionally valuable to the carp. Once they have eaten it a few times they will then actively search it out, due to it being an easy meal. Food baits also include many additives that similarly are meant to boost the long term attraction to the carp. These include such ingredients as liver powder, amino acid blends, betaine, Green lipped mussel powder and many other powders, liquids and oils; dependent on what the angler wants in the bait. Eggs are also a major ingredient as most mixes require them to aid in the rolling and binding of the dry ingredients.

Food baits tend to work better over time and some will keep producing year after year if used correctly. Some of the most popular food baits on the market currently include; Mainline’s Cell, CC Moore’s Live System, Nash bait’s Scopex Squid, Nutrabait’s Trigga and Blue Oyster, Sticky Bait’s Krill, Solar’s Club Mix, Dynamite’s Crave and many others. Of course, as well as purchasing these baits from a specific supplier you can also make up your own food baits if you have the knowledge to do so and this often proves to be more cost effective.

One of many fish I caught in the summer of 1994 on a food bait, Red Seed; a bait heavily laced with Robin Red!

One of many fish I caught in the summer of 1994 on a food bait, Red Seed; a bait heavily laced with Robin Red!

Instant Baits – Most of the companies that offer food baits also offer a vast range of the more attractive and eye catching ‘instant’ baits. When I think of an instant bait I think of brighter colors and fruity flavors. These baits can and do have a food value to them and often include some fishmeal and birdfood in their make-up but predominantly they will include a higher level of semolina, soy, maize meal and corn flour. They also tend to have higher inclusion rates of flavors, some of the more common ones being; pineapple, tutti frutti, scopex, banana, strawberry, various cremes and chocolates. These baits are usually accompanied by matching dips, glugs and sprays to further boost their effectiveness.

A mid thirty fully scaled mirror that couldn't resist a high attract pineapple ready-made.

A mid thirty fully scaled mirror that couldn’t resist a high attract pineapple ready-made.

I personally started my carping utilizing home made ‘instant’ baits. I was fishing a small Estate Lake and two of my friends had teamed up to make a birdfood bait that they had been pre-baiting with for several weeks. I knew I would not be able to compete with them by using another food bait and so I determined my best line of attack would be a couple of instant baits. I decided on Rod Hutchinson’s Maple Creme on one rod, with the other having Honey Yucatan attached. In the short term the instant baits helped me catch a couple of PB fish, and avoid the numerous tench which were plaguing my friends.

Opening day of the 1993 season and this new PB couldn't resist a Honey Yucatan 'instant' bait.

Opening day of the 1993 season and this new PB couldn’t resist a Honey Yucatan ‘instant’ bait.

My own feelings on instant baits are mixed. On virgin waters or for short sessions they are ideal, in fact I would use them in preference to food baits. Because they are usually brighter and have more attractants they encourage the carp to investigate where perhaps they have never seen a boilie before. I have caught many American carp with this approach, often on waters where I am fairly sure no one else has ever used a boilie.

My only dislike of instant baits is when I am fishing a water or river over the long term. In this case I much prefer a food bait, although I may still mix in some instant baits as well. Once the carp recognize that a boilie is a food source then I really think that food baits come into their own.

Hook Baits – Over the past decade this aspect of boilies has really exploded. When I first started using Richworth frozen baits or Nash ready mades they was always a bonus pack of five or six pop-ups included. Usually hook baits consisted of the same bait as you were using as a loose feed, unless it was winter, in which case a handful of baits would be deposited into a pot with some secret glug concoction. In years past I would either make my own pop-ups with cork balls or employ the maddening process of microwaving baits to make them buoyant. Nowadays’ there are literally hundreds of choices, ranging from hardened bottom baits, wafters, cured and salted baits, over flavored pop-ups and highly visual fluorescent baits. These come in all manner of shapes and sizes which leaves the angler the task of picking out the best hook-bait to match his situation.

Fluro and gluged baits - just a couple of hook bait options available to the modern angler

Fluro and glugged baits – just a couple of hook bait options available to the modern angler

With the rise of visual hook baits we often overlook the more simple options but credit should be given to anglers such as Frank Warwick and others who pioneered the use of bright, over flavored single hook baits that could be cast out into areas without the need for any additional bait. I have caught countless carp myself utilizing this technique but am also fond of using food baits or special prepared hook baits. I also regularly use a bright bait to top a food bait in the ever popular snowman presentation. Again, the hook bait choice should really depend on the fishing situation. For instance a fluro pop-up might be ideal sitting just above silk weed, but on a hard gravel area it might look out of place and stand out like a sore thumb! In other situations where carp have seen lots of approaches a bait that is darker or washed out might be more readily accepted. It’s worth experimenting as sometimes a simple adjustment is all it takes to hit the jack pot.

This winter 33lb common came to a bottom bait presentation when pop-ups were being ignored.

This winter 33lb common came to a bottom bait presentation when pop-ups were being ignored.

Shapes and Sizes – Whether you are using food baits, ready mades or home made baits you should not under estimate the power of different shapes and sizes. While most anglers think of boilies as being only round in shape and generally between 14-18 mm there are lots of advantages to using other shapes and sizes. Firstly, lets take the size of the bait. I would guess that most carper’s use boilies in the 14 to 18mm range as these are generally easy to match with hook sizes and rigs and also easy to bait up with. How many of you use 8-10mm boilies or 20-30mm baits? In close range situations smaller boilies can be very effective and they are also very easy to add into a particle mix as they are of a similar size to nuts and pulses. On the other end of the spectrum 20mm baits and bigger are a fantastic way to target larger fish. There is some debate in this country as to the validity of such claims but I can personally attest that using 22-24mm baits had caught me lots of large carp where I am sure if I had been using 14-16mm baits I would have been catching many more smaller fish.

This 32lb St Lawrence common couldn't resist a double 20mm offering

This 32lb St Lawrence common couldn’t resist a double 20mm offering

As well as utilizing different sizes of bait you should also think about the shape of your baits. Why use round baits when fishing on a marginal shelf or gravel bar when chopped or cubed baits would stay in place much, much better? There’s no doubt that a boilie stick and round shape boilies are easier to bait with, but for situations up to 40-50 yards a catapult will manage all manner of shapes. For distances further than this a spod or spomb can be employed. Personally, I make many of my home made baits in cubes or sausages as they are much easier to produce in bulk. I will either make up blocks of bait and then ‘steam’ them or I will roll out sausages and boil them. It is then simply a matter of chopping them to the size and dimensions you require.

Blocks of home made 'fishmeals' - steamed and ready to chop

Blocks of home made ‘fishmeals’ – steamed and ready to chop

Hardness and Solubility – With all the sizes and shapes to use we also must take into account the situation in which we want to utilize the bait. Firstly, if you are looking to avoid nuisence species or crayfish then the hardness of the bait will definitely come into account. Softer baits are great for leaking out attractants but if you have ever experienced active crayfish you will know the value of rock hard baits. A simple way to achieve this is by air drying your baits for several days. This will dehydrate them and make them harder. It also has the added benefit of preserving your baits for a prolonged period. If you don’t want to air dry your baits then the simple addition of egg albumen into your boilie mix will do a similar job.

If you do not have a problem with crayfish then a softer bait would be my preferred choice for several reasons. Firstly, it will be easier to digest and quicker to break down. It will also leak off it’s attractants much quicker. When I am not bothered about the range I am fishing or nuisance fish I will often just skin my baits by boiling for only 30 seconds. On other occasions I will not even boil them, rather air dry them for a day and then use what is effectively a ‘paste’ bait. This has been very successful for me in the past, as has making my own soluble baits, that break down very quickly, even in cold water conditions.

This scaley 30lb+ mirror came over a small handful of soluble 'paste' baits

This scaley 30lb+ mirror came over a small handful of soluble ‘paste’ baits

Having covered the general types, shapes and sizes we will now delve into specific situations and the different ways in which you can present and utilize boilies. Look out for Part 3, coming in early April.