We’ve all used supermarket baits at some time or another, be it sweetcorn, luncheon meat, bread, mackerel or dog biscuits, but there are loads of other baits on those shelves that will catch plenty of fish.
Variations on a similar theme seem to produce the most fish. Take luncheon meat as an example. We’ve all used that at some time or another, but have you tried Peperami? This tough meat has an added kick and can produce runs from carp, barbel and chub when run-of-the-mill luncheon meat fails.
Cheese is another great bait that has given anglers countless personal best chub when fished as a paste, but have you tried cubes of Cheddar or Gloucester for carp? It’s deadly in the summer!
Here’s just a selection of different baits available from supermarkets, and a brief description of how to use them.
A fantastic bait alternative in the winter and spring when plain-flavoured baits cease to work. Try small lengths of it legered for chub and barbel, or small chunks hair-rigged and fished alongside a PVA bag of pellets and Peperami pieces, or alongside a Method feeder for carp.
During summer small cubes of either Cheddar or Gloucester tossed into the margins of a carp fishery will soon draw the attentions of those large carp that cruise along the edge. Try fishing a larger chunk of cheese on a waggler rig or pole rig right over the top of the cheese pieces and you’ll be surprised by the results!
NOT one of the most popular of supermarket-bought baits, but Macaroni cheese can be devastatingly effective for carp and tench. It’s a very soft, sweet smelling bait that lends itself to close range work using a pole rig because it cannot be cast as it’s so soft. Bites are near unmissable as the hook pulls straight through the soft cheese, and the best way to hook them is to pass a large, round bend pattern straight through the inner, following the curve of the bait.
These are fresh/frozen prawns and cockles, not pickled versions. They make superb carp and tench baits when floatfished during the summer and autumn. Due to their near neutral buoyancy these baits come to rest gently over weed and are therefore ideal for use in the margins or very close to lilies.
This tasty fish has become a firm favourite among both match and specimen carp anglers as it makes such a brilliant attractor when mixed with groundbait or used in conjunction with pellets and a little groundbait for spodding. Remember to pick tuna chunks in water, not brine.
We all know that dog biscuits are a firm favourite for surface fishing for carp, but occasionally you need to introduce another type of bait to persuade the fish to feed avidly, and that’s when cat biscuits come in. They are smaller, often differently-shaped and they smell strongly too, and that combination will help give the carp a little more confidence when it comes to feeding again.
These tiny floating morsels are another great bait to feed when surface fishing. They aren’t ideal for catapulting though as they are so small and light, but when placed in a PVA bag together with a dry pebble they can be fired long distances where the PVA melts and the bait disperse. Carp and rudd love ‘em!
Cooked rice is cheap, bright white and makes for a brilliant bulk feed to add to your groundbait when prebaiting for carp, bream or tench. Simply simmer for 12 minutes and it’s ready. Allow to cool and then add to your already dampened groundbait. Rise is pretty useless on the hook though as it’s so small, but it’s perfect for feeding.
A box of semolina has two uses for the angler. It makes a superb base mix to which you can add different colours, additves and flavours when making your own boilies, or it can be mixed quite stiff with other attractants to create a unique paste that only you know the secret to. These boilies and pastes can be used to great effect on specialist and commercial carp waters.
A match anglers favourite. Although pretty dreadful to use as it makes a right mess, catfood in gravy provides a supply of perfect-sized chunks of soft meat that carp adore. It’s so soft that casting is virtually impossible so catfood is best used on pole tackle, but remember to step up your elastic and mainline strength because you’re very likely to encounter plenty of big carp when using this phenomenal bait.
Often called calamari in supermarkets, squid makes a terrific catfish bait. You’ll need strong tackle and a very large hook to present a squid, but it’s well worth it as the results can be astounding.
This is another great catfish bait, undoubtedly due to the strong aroma leaking from the liver. You can vary the size of the liver chunks to match the size of the hook you are using, but whatever size you decide, make sure the hook you use is a strong one or the catfish will straighten it in seconds. Liver is best fished down the marginal shelf or tight to snags, throughout the night.
Anglers of old used to fish with par-boiled potatoes when targeting big carp to great success, but nowadays potatoes tend to be used by some match anglers. Well… not exactly whole potatoes, but small cylinders of raw spud extracted from the whole potato using a meat punch. These small cylinders of potato can be side hooked and make a brilliant tough pellet alternative for fishing for carp up-in-the-water. The pale colour of the bait ensures that the carp can see it clearly. Soem anglers dye their potato pellets with strong black coffee to turn them brown to match the colour of fishmeal pellets.
Meatballs are a firm favourite among barbel anglers. Meatballs are the perfect size barbel bait, they hook well, they smell strongly and there’s ample baits in a couple of cans to last you a whole session. A great bait to use on its own when rolling baits down a river towards a likely-looking feature, or as a large target bait over a bed of pellets, hemp or particles.
These white and pink sweets make a brilliant alternative to dog biscuits, bread and pop-up boilies when surface fishing. They float for ages, they are sweetly flavoured, they are brightly coloured and they can be side hooked or hair-rigged… they have everything going for them as a summer carp bait to use on the surface.
Found in the isles containing world foods, oyster sauce is a thin, brown liquid that has a great deal of potency. It’s a superb additive that can be used to enhance groundbaits, Method mixes and even flavour pastes and pellets with. Not a cheap additive, but a little oyster sauce goes a long way, and it will last for ages too.