Beginner’s Guide to Using Boilies for Carp Fishing

Boilies for Carp Fishing

Carp fishing boilies are definitely one of the best and most popular carp fishing baits.

They are basically dough balls, made with different characteristics, and every one of them is specific for a certain situation.

Boilies offer endless possibilities when it comes to taste and colour combination, and can easily be bought in fishing stores or even prepared at home.

This bait is very attractive for beginners because it seems very simple and effective. However, there are some misconceptions, as well as the rules you should follow when fishing for carp with boilies.

For inexperienced anglers choosing and using boilies can be a bit overwhelming.

This extensive guide should answer all of your questions and provide useful advice for your next carp fishing adventure!



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Why are different boilie sizes important for carp fishing?

When you look at boilies available on the market, you will notice that they differ in size.

Ranging from as little as 6 milimeters all the way up to 30, they should be chosen according to the targeted fish size, hook size, location, visibility and your preferred prebaiting tactics.

Let’s start from the latter. Prebaiting is one of the most important steps in fishing for carp. Very often boilies are used for that purpose. Some anglers say they use smaller boilies for prebaiting because fish will then happily bite the large one used as bait. Others disagree as say the same ones should be used. This is really a matter of personal experience and may vary in different locations. You will have to figure out works the best for you on your local pond.

When it comes to visibility and how attractive the boilie will be to a certain carp, colour and taste are more important than size. However, some anglers use large boilies in large water surfaces.

Size of a fish is one of the most important factors when choosing a boilie size. The bigger the fish the bigger the boilie.

There is a possibility that a large fish will bite on a small boilie, but it will hardly happen the other way around. If you are still a beginner, targeting a small carp, try boilies up to 10 millimetres in diameter.

Medium size boilies, around 14-18 millimetres are the most frequently used, and they are great for medium size fish, from 5 to 10 kilograms.

Larger boilies are for bigger carp. It is important not to overestimate your skills and to pair a boilie with a certain hook size, together with your carp fishing gear. You can’t catch a trophy using a large boilie and a small universal rod.

Why are boilie colours important for carp fishing?

When choosing a boilie, you need to pick a colour, after you decided which size is the best for your needs.

This is a complicated subject.

Numerous manufacturers present their boilies and colours as the best ones. Anglers have different experiences and say that certain colours work the best, while others disagree.

Bright and vivid colours are more visible in murky waters, pale colours are looking more natural and blend in. And anglers sometimes say that they have a different experience every year. On heavily fished ponds carps can get used to certain baits.

One angler has success, everyone else copies him and soon everyone is fishing with same boilies. Carps are intelligent. You probably know you need to be quiet and blend in the environment while fishing, pick proper clothes…

It is the same with boilies in those places. When they get used to one bait, change it.

When it comes to wild fish in greater lakes and rivers, use the ones highly visible, in bright colours, especially if the water is murky.

Certain boilies work very well with other carp bait.

Corn is one of the most popular baits for carp fishing, and it can give good results when used with yellow boilies. Use corn and a few boilies for prebaiting, and then present a boilie as bait.

Except yellow, among highly visible boilie colours are pink, red and white. Another advice for fishing a wild carp is to determine what is his natural food source in a certain location and choose a boilie colour accordingly.

Same as with the size, you will figure out the best combination after testing a few different options.

Boilies for Carp Fishing - size, colour, flavour

Why are boilie flavours important for carp fishing?

Boilie flavour is another feature that can confuse a beginner.

There are various options, and some of them can seem a bit crazy if you are not familiar with the reasons behind it. Some of them are flavoured with fruits like pineapple. The reason is not the fruit itself, but sweetness that attracts the carp and the smell that is different than its usual food but very appealing. The smell quite important too.

Boilies are usually divided into three categories:

  • natural like krill and corn,
  • sweet like strawberry or pineapple (best bait for winter) and
  • smelly like fish meal or mussels.

Again, choosing the right one depends of a location and a situation, but there are some rules to pick the right one.

Anglers mostly agree that sweet boilies work better in winter, while smelly ones are great for summer. If you want your bait to imitate natural food source, together with previously chosen colour, use the ones with natural flavour.

If you are uncertain which one is the best, use the sweet ones. They are most frequently used by experienced anglers in various locations and in most situations, they are very successful.

Except size, colour and flavour, boilies differ in texture and buoyancy. That is explained in the following paragraphs.

What is the difference between boilie textures?

It may seem like too much information, but don’t give up!

When it comes to texture, there are two main possibilities. Frozen or shelf-life.

Both have certain advantages and disadvantages, and it is up to you to decide which one to use.

A lot of anglers think shelf-life boilies are unnatural and heavily packed with chemicals. It is true that they contain preservatives but modern boilies have quality ingredients.

However, they can be stored in a bag and used for a long time. You can easily transport them, or even order them online as they don’t need to be stored in very low temperatures.

Shelf life boilies need to be soaked before usage and they are a bit harder.

On the other hand, frozen boilies are softer and they decompose faster. They are also tastier for carps. The main disadvantage is that they need to be stored in freezing temperatures and once when they are melted you should not freeze them again.

In a way they are similar to home made boilies which lack preservatives and need to be frozen if not used in the first few days. More about those will be mentioned later on.

If you are worried for carp well-being, you must know that frozen ones are easily digestible. However, the shelf life boilies will not harm the fish.

As frozen ones dissolve faster and are soft, they are less stable on the hook. Again, it is up to you to choose, now when you know the main difference.

If you are going on a multiple day fishing trip and plan to camp outside, shelf life boilies are the best option. Frozen ones can spoil easily if not kept in right conditions. Some anglers soak their shelf life boilies in warm water before usage, to “activate” the ingredients better.

READ MORE: How to Catch Carp in a River? Best Beginner Tips!

Boilies for Carp Fishing - homemade drying

What are pop up boilies?

Pop up boilies are the ones that are buoyant.

Regular boilies sink to the bottom, while pop-up can be positioned above. All the other features of those boilies are the same as the sinking ones.

Pop up boilies make good baits as they are floating above any obstacles on the bottom, which can hide the boilies and make them less visible to carps, such as weed.

These boilies enable you to set up different rigs and increase your chances to catch a carp.

Also, if there are other boilies used for prebaiting, and those are positioned on the bottom, your pop-up bait will be easily accessible and chosen by carp to bite.

Another benefit that you will probably discover after you gain some experience is that pop-up boilies are less prone to tangle. As they are positioned above obstacles on the bottom, they will not get caught in them so often.

What are the best rigs for fishing with boilies?

When it comes to fishing with boilies, the most common rig used is the hair rig.

It is basically a short line mounted behind the hook with a boilie attached. To string a boilie onto this short line called the “hair”, you will need to use baiting needle.

This rig works very well as the hook itself is not disabled by a boilie and when a carp sucks it into his mouth and blows out the hook has a greater chance to get attached inside the mouth of a carp.

Boilies on a hair can be single or combined. A lot of anglers combine smaller and bigger boilie, where the small one is positioned above the larger one.

You can also combine the sinking boilie with a pop up. You should attach the sinking one first to create a so called “snowman” where the hook will be positioned below.

Except for that, some anglers combine boilies with corn in the same way. There are various options any you can pick the best one based on experience.

Do not be afraid of playing with different options.

Another good option is a chod rig. It is very useful in locations with a lot of debris on the bottom, and good for autumn months when leaves from nearby trees are falling into the water and creating a layer on the bottom.

Chod rig is based upon a small and stiff piece of fluorocarbon line positioned above the lead, able to rotate around, with a boilie attached onto it. It is mostly used with pop up boilies.

Boilies for Carp Fishing - Hair rig, snowman

What is the best way to attach a boilie, and can you put a boilie on a hook?

As previously mentioned, boilies are best when used on a hair rig or similar, with a free hook.

If you have ever wondered can you attach a boilie directly to a hook, the answer is yes, but it is not worth it.

Attaching a boilie on a hair enables the hook to get attached into the carp mouth. Also, hooks may damage a boilie and make it fall apart. Even if you are able to put it on a hook, when it gets into the water and soaks, it may fall off.

The best way to attach a boilie is on a hair. In order to do that you will need two main “tools”. One is a baiting needle and the other is a bait stop. You can get both in most fishing stores.

Puncture a boilie trough the middle and be careful while doing that. You do not want to impale your own finger. The smaller the boilie is the harder it will be to puncture it but don’t worry, after a few times you will figure it out.

After that you should attach the loop on the end of the hair to the hooked end of a needle, pull the needle back very carefully and slide the boilie as close to the hook as possible. Finish by attaching a bait stop that will fix the boilie in place. There are numerous videos available online so you can see the detailed instructions and practice the skill before going to the water.

Try it using just one boilie and when you master the skill, try combing two of them.

When choosing a hook size for a certain boilie size, or vice versa, make sure they are compatible. Using too large hooks and small boilies is not a successful combination. For example, if using 12-millimetre boilie, a hook size 8 it suitable. Pop ups, like those 16 millimetres in diameter can be paired with hooks size 6 or even 4.

How do you fish for carp with boilies?

As discussed in previous chapters, first you have to choose a proper boilie and learn how to assemble a rig.

And boilies, even the best ones, will not be very useful if you are searching for carp in the wrong place or time.

For successful fishing, you need more than just a bait. For fishing with boilies, same rules apply as for fishing with other bait like corn.

However, here are some tips for boilies:

• If fishing in waters with high fish population, like ponds or paylakes, protect your boilies from smaller fish that like to take a bite. Do it by choosing slightly larger boilies and using mesh tights.
Prebaiting is always important. Use sinking boilies for that purpose. Some anglers prebait by using different boilie sizes to make the carp feel safe to bite any of them and to increase a chance for their bait to be eaten by the same carp.
Boilie crumbs can also be used for prebaiting purposes.
Do not prebait excessively, that is as bad as not doing it at all. For an average location, up to 60 boilies per fishing rod should do the trick.
Choose seasonal baits. During winter ingredients should contain less fat and oil, which are frequently found in fishmeal boilies, as the carp will have a hard time digesting them. In summer you can use those, as they will easily digest it in warm waters.

Can you catch any other fish with boilies?

Boilies are best known as carp fishing bait, but sometimes they are used as catfish bait too. However, there are some differences.

For catfish, strong boilie smell is important, so the ones based on fishmeal are the best. Except for that, the size should be bigger, especially for large catfish like wels catfish. If you are preparing them yourself, you can follow the same recipes as for carp boilies, but make sure they are stinky.

There is one more bait for catfish, similar to boilies, and that are pellets made specially for catfish. Most of those are used for prebaiting, but there are some very large ones (20 millimetres or more in diameter) that can be used as baits. The only difference is the shape; pellets are usually cylindrical.

You will not find boilies for catfish in local fishing stores. Instead, you can use the biggest carp boilies or make them yourself. Advantages of boilie fishing for catfish are numerous, and one of the most important ones is that shelf life boilies are not perishable. As catfish requires stinky baits, chicken liver and similar fresh baits are not suitable for long fishing trips.

Except for catfish, some anglers use different boilies or pellets to catch other fish species like tench or bream but that is not very common.

READ MORE: Do Catfish Have Teeth? Here is The Answer!
READ MORE: What's The Best Time to Fish for Catfish? Complete Guide!

Can you float fish with boilies?

Yes, you can use boilies together with floats (bobber).

Boilies are a versatile bait that can be used for top fishing and bottom fishing.

If using pop ups, they can be positioned above bottom. Sometimes, when the situation requires, boilies can be used with floats.

Floats are also useful as they indicate fish bites to the angler. It is a good fishing technique for beginners.

Float fishing for carp with boilies is the same as float fishing for carp using other bait, such as corn, crickets or any other bait.

There are different options when it comes to rig setup.

Floats should be used when the bait and the hook have to be positioned over certain obstacles on the bottom, such as dense vegetation. They are also used for fishing in the margins, not too far from the shore.

When float fishing for carp make sure you use a proper rod and other fishing equipment suitable for this technique. Be careful with the movements you make. Most suitable rods are those 10-11 ft long with through action. Pair that rod with a fixed spool reel. Keep as simple as possible.

This method is good for a small or an average size carps, but for those catching big ones, floats are not the best option.

Which brands of carp fishing boilies are the best?

When you search for boilies available on the market, numerous manufacturers will appear. It is a matter of marketing. All of them claim they are superior and the best.

However, there are certain brands that are always a good option. Their boilies have quality ingredients and they will definitely attract fish.

Anglers usually have their favourite brand or two that they will recommend. This list is a result of those recommendations:

Dynamite Baits
• Shimano Isolate Baits
• CC Moore
Nash Baits
• Spotted Fin
• Sticky Baits
• Mainline

Try some of those and see what works the best in a specific location. Make sure you follow all the previously mentioned rules while choosing a boilie.

If you are fishing on heavily fished waters such as ponds, talk to other anglers, see what they are using. And then you try a different brand, if you are not catching as much fish as you would like to. Some anglers say changing a boilie like that works because carps get used to a specific boilie, they recognize it as bait, and you need to provide something new.

Some of these manufacturers sell ingredients for homemade boilies so you can prepare them at home.

DIY; Homemade boilies for carp fishing

Boilies are a great bait and if you like, you can prepare them yourself. And you do not need some special skills to do so.

Experienced anglers often make their own boilies and have secret recipes. By testing different ones, soon you will have a recipe that suits you the best.

There are numerous instructions online and you can try with some simple examples. It is also cheaper than buying a finished product.

Homemade boilies can be made in two ways.

First is to buy ingredients in a local fishing store. You will need a few such as base mix, activator, flavours (like tuna, banana, garlic, Scopex, etc.) and so on. Those ingredients are then mixed, together with eggs (eggs are a common ingredient for most recipes) and the dough is formed. Then you cut it, shape it, cook for 2-3 minutes, air dry and you have your own boilies!

Another way to do so is by replacing those ingredients with the ones from a local supermarket. Those ingredients are usually wheat, flour, fruit jello powder, eggs and similar. They do not have the same nutritional values as the fishing store version and are a bit less attractive to the carp. However, some anglers prefer those as the more “natural” version.

With the latter you will have a bit more trouble. It is hard to get the consistency right. For a beginner, the first option, using ingredients from a fishing store is easier. All of those have instructions attached and you will know exactly what and how much to use.

Once they are done, air dry them and use within a few days, especially the ones made from grocery store ingredients. Home made boilies do not have preservatives necessary to last a long time. If you want them to last longer, freeze them and you can keep them for few months.

Boilies for Carp Fishing - Homemade, fresh


Boilies are one of the most versatile baits on the market. Various size, taste and colour options provide endless possibilities for choosing the best combination.

These baits have been tried and tested by both beginners and experienced anglers around the world and they all agree they are the best bait for carp fishing.

While choosing the right boilies, follow the common rules. The same goes for setting up a rig and choosing a hook size.

For the ones feeling adventurous, give it a try and prepare your own boilies at home. The only way to know which boilies are the best for your local fishing location is to go out and test them!

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