The best boilies for carp fishing

The best boilies for carp fishing

by Aidan Bordiuk |
Updated on

When it comes to fishing, boilies are still the most popular bait for targeting carp of all sizes on venues up and down the country, big and small. Accounting for lots of captures every year, it is clear to see why they are still a firm favourite amongst carp anglers.

First used in the 1980s, these baits have come a long way since then and are available in many different sizes, colours and flavours. The baits come either frozen or as a preserved bait known as a 'shelf-life', and which one is the most suitable comes down to the type of angling you do and the facilities you have available.

Best boilies for fishing at a glance...

Best Fishmeal Boilie - Sticky Baits The Krill - View offer on Total Fishing Tackle

Best All-Season Boilie - Mainline Cell - View offer on Total Fishing Tackle

Best Steamed Boilie - Parker Baits OG Fruit and Nut - View offer on Total Fishing Tackle

Best Winter Boilie - CCMoore Live System - View offer on Total Fishing Tackle

However, the fundamentals of using a boilie doesn't differ, the majority are made on quality base mixes with ingredients the fish not only find attractive, but can utilise to stay healthy. Pick a quality boilie from this list, apply it correctly and the fish won't be far away...

Best carp bait (2023 National Angling Awards Winner)

Following the runaway success of The Krill Active freezer bait range, this year’s shelf-life and pop-up hookbait versions have unsurprisingly flown off tackle shop shelves, and been the downfall of many of the country’s biggest carp.

The biggest step forward in shelf-life baits for decades, these new boilies are as close to fresh as possible, and incorporate minimal preservatives thanks to the pure liquids and their high natural salt content. They are available in 1kg and 5kg bags, and in sizes 12mm, 16mm, 20mm and 24mm.

The Krill Active pop-ups feature a fluffy, light outer coating, which has a neutral buoyancy, making them easy to counterbalance. You can rest assured that your hookbait is sitting perfectly, for days if necessary! They are 16mm in size, and come in 120g tubs.


  • One of the best fishmeal boilies just got better.
  • Will stay fresh ready to use whenever you need them.


  • Quite a soft bait, so not as good used as hookbait for prolonged periods.

Best fishmeal boilie

The bait that took Sticky stratospheric, Sticky Baits The Krill is an absolute monster of a boilie. It has caught all sorts of huge fish all over the country, from giant carp to monster barbel.

Wherever you fish, you can almost guarantee the fish have seen and been caught on this bait. Quite simply, it works. No expense is spared with the raw ingredients and each boilie is made on a state-of-the-art production line at Sticky's spotless factory (we've visited and it's the best in the business). It's these little details that have led so many top anglers to use the Krill with confidence. 

Available in shelf life and freezer bait, we have found no discernible difference between the two, allowing you to use both with 100% confidence.

Boilie sizes: 12mm, 16mm, 20mm (Shelf-life) 12mm, 16mm, 20mm, 24mm (Freezer)


  • Packed full of natural attraction.
  • Incredibly fishy.


  • Quite a soft bait that doesn't always work well with a throwing stick.

Best all-season boilie

You would be hard pushed to find a carp angler that hasn’t heard of or used Mainline Cell boilies. It’s been one of, if not the most successful bait of the last 20+ years and it works instantly on most venues as the fish have seen it and enjoyed eating it time and time again. 

Mainline combine top quality enhancers and attractors with liquid food sources and enzymes to offer something carp find truly irresistible.

A very distinctive bait, pale in colour with an instantly recognisable sweet, coconut aroma. As the bait is not a fishmeal or a nut bait, it doesn’t seem to be more or less successful at any time of year, so you have no need to worry about changing it with the seasons. 

Boilie sizes: 10mm, 15mm, 18mm (Shelf life) 10mm, 15mm, 18mm (Freezer)


  • Will work all year.
  • Same recipe has been successful for 20+ years.


  • A light coloured bait that can draw the attention of birdlife.

Best steamed boilie

A relative newcomer to the boilie market, Parker Baits OG fruit and Nut is as good as anything out there and as the company make bait every week on a batch basis, you can guarantee it's fresh, something the company pride themselves on.

The bait is steamed rather than boiled too, which reduces the amount of attractors released from the bait as its cooked compared to a boiled bait, this also keeps the bait soft allowing it to breakdown quickly and be easily digested. The bait is then dusted in a special blend of spices and various food items for an extra boost of attraction when it's applied into the swim.

The main ingredients of tiger meal and flavour profiles like chocolate orange and coconut, makes the bait smell lovely and the carp seem to enjoy it too. Available in a freezer and a shelf-life to tailor to your needs and preferences, they also do a fishmeal version called OG Fish if you're not a fan of nut-based baits.

Boilie sizes: 10mm, 14mm, 18mm (freezer and shelf-life)


  • Steamed rather than boiled to keep attractors locked in.
  • Dusted after cooking for extra attraction.


  • The bait is quite soft so isn't the best applied with a throwing stick straight out of the bag.

Best nut boilie

A sweet, creamy bait, Dynamite Baits Monster Tiger Nut has a lovely vanilla aroma that makes you want to stop fishing and bury your head in the bag. The Monster Tiger Nut boilie is seed based rather than fishmeal, so is perfect for year-round or winter use.

The pale colour is flecked with seeds, which also provide texture when you break the boilies apart. It's highly digestible and a great bet on waters that ban the use of whole nut baits.

Boilie sizes: 10mm, 15mm, 18mm, 20mm (Shelf-life). 15mm, 18mm (Freezer)


  • Very strong aroma that smells incredible.
  • Soft, so can be crumbed up easily.


  • Not available in a 10mm freezer bait.

Best soluble boilie

After two and a half years of testing and development, Nutrabaits Soluble Boilies are finally here. These baits begin to break down within 15 minutes of entering the water and are fully broken down within two to eight hours, depending on the water temperature. 

This allows the attractors in the bait to be released much faster into the water column, as well as giving the fish less actual bait to feed on when they come to eat it, increasing the chance of a bite. 

Once disturbed the baits will cloud up the water, further enhancing attraction in the area to stimulate a great feeding response.  The baits are available in a range of flavours too, so there is something for everyone and every season.

Boilie sizes: 18mm


  • Breakdown much quicker than normal boilies.
  • Release attraction whilst keeping food content to a minimum.


  • Only available in 18mm.

Best natural boilie

Work first started on DNA Baits The Bug in 2017, after EU legislation allowed the use of processed animal proteins from insects within aquaculture feeds. DNA have been looking for an alternative to fishmeal with the growing concerns about its sustainability.

Utilising black soldier fly meal as their main protein ingredient, they have eliminated the need for fishmeal, whilst including some poultry meal hydrolysate to give the bait even more attraction and a totally unique taste profile that fish are unlikely to have come across before.

If you’re looking for a bait that is sustainable and offers something completely different to the nut or fishmeal dominated baits currently on the market then this boilie is well worth checking out. It has accounted for a lot of big fish since its release. DNA also offer their baits in 8mm and dumbbells, which is something we haven’t seen before. 

Boilies sizes: 8mm, 12mm,15mm,18mm,22mm, 26mm and mini dumbbells (Shelf-life) (Freezer)


  • Completely different proteins to other competitors.
  • 8mm baits available in the range.


  • Not the best choice for winter fishing but will still work in smaller quantities.

Best shelf-life boilie

Sticky Baits Bloodworm has been overshadowed by The Krill in recent times, but it was Sticky's biggest bait originally. Now the bait is only available in a shelf-life as Sticky don’t feel freezing it has any impact on its quality or effectiveness. 

With a predominately fishmeal base mix, the bait also has high levels of real bloodworm, crustacean extracts, robin red and blood plasma to offer the fish something different that we know they love to eat. The bait is very subtle in smell, very different to the overpowering smells we are used to seeing in baits nowadays, it relies on natural stimulation by harnessing the carp’s natural food sources. 

The bait has a very rich red colour and can be used all-year-round due to its ingredients profile and solubility. The bait is lovely and soft out of the bag and doesn’t dry up either, making it great for multiple sessions. It truly is as good as any freezer bait.

Boilie sizes: 12mm, 16mm, 20mm (Shelf-life)


  • As good as a lot of freezer baits, if not better.
  • Great for longer sessions.


  • Available in shelf-life only.

Best winter boilie

A bait that catapulted CC Moore into a well-recognised and respected name in the carp fishing fraternity, CC Moore Live System is a bait that just seems to be able to get a bite, especially in the cooler months, when they are very hard to come by.

An instantly recognisable bait, with its pale colouration and very sweet aroma that you just can’t quite put your finger on, it represents a great choice when the carp you’re targeting prefer a sweeter bait. The base mix incorporates a lot ingredients seldom used in UK bait production, with high inclusion rates of milk proteins, cream powders and yeast palatants, it really does offer the angler something very different in their armoury. 

Due to its profile of water-soluble attractors and low oil content, the bait works well in cold temperatures and doesn’t need applying for prolonged periods to establish it. If you’re looking for a new bait to use that will work instantly and isn’t fishmeal or nut dominated, Live System is a great choice. 

Boilie sizes:  10mm, 15mm, 18mm, 24mm (Freezer and Shelf-life) 10x15mm, 15x18mm dumbbells (Freezer and Shelf-life)


  • Great for use in cold water.
  • Smells incredible.


  • The sweetness makes it a favourite of species like bream and tench too.

Best instant attraction boilie

The Nash Citruz is a bait unlike any other on the market. Similar to a hook bait, the bait is almost fluorescent in colour and the carp simply can’t fail to spot it on the lakebed. Available in just white or a mixture of pink and off-white baits, there really is nothing else as visually imposing as the Citruz, something the carp will be intrigued by to say the least.

Marketed as a bait to get you a bite when all else fails, it certainly lives up to it, with high levels of deadly fruit esters and essential oils, this bait is in your face and highly attractive. Because of this you don’t need to put loads of bait in, the colour and attraction within the bait is what draws the fish. Perfect if you are short on time or want to stay mobile and set little traps. 

The bag also comes with hookbaits in that perfectly match the bottom baits you’re introducing, so you don’t have to worry about the bait coming off the hair if you intend on leaving the rods out for prolonged periods.

Boilie sizes: 12mm, 15mm, 18mm, 20mm (Shelf-life)


  • Super high attraction.
  • Supplied with hookbaits.


  • Can be too bright and obvious for shy carp in the warmer months.

Best summer boilie

If you are looking for a super-rich bait packed full of excellent carp attractors the fish will happily eat time and time again, especially for the summer, the Baitworks Royal Marine takes some beating. 

A blend of enzyme treated marine and shellfish proteins along with mixed crustacean extracts in both powdered and liquid form, this bait just screams big carp. It appeals to their taste and smell receptors with its high inclusion rates of free form, soluble amino acids that carp can’t fail to notice. This is increasingly noticeable after spawning when the carp are looking for food that is high in energy to pack on some mass, a great time to get on this bait.

The bait only contains ingredients that will benefit the health of the carp too, so not only will it catch them, but it will also support them in the long run. 

Boilie sizes: 15mm, 18mm, 24mm (Shelf-life) 15mm, 18mm, 24mm (Freezer)


  • Great for the health of the fish.
  • Packed full of natural attraction, a proven fish catcher.


  • Not available any smaller than 15mm.

Best freezer bait

Specialist manufacturing processes have allowed Sticky to create a very unique product with their Sticky Baits Manilla Active range.  A paste like coating is added to the standard bottom baits containing super soluble liquid and powder attractors that begin breaking down and leaching into the water as soon as they enter the lake. 

The bait contains the perfect levels of milk, peanut and bird food proteins as well as the infamous Madagascan vanilla extract that these baits have become synonymous for. After the paste has broken down, it leaves a halo of attraction and still highly attractive bottom bait behind it. 

Perfect for all-year-round use, these baits are only available in freezer form, as it’s the only way to lock in the attraction. Sticky do not recommend air drying the baits for any amount of time and using them as fresh as possible is the best way.

Boilie sizes: 12mm, 16mm, 20mm (Freezer)


  • Very unique coating for added attraction.
  • Will work in all weathers and temperatures.


  • Not available in shelf-life...yet!

What to look for in a boilie

As mentioned, boilies come in endless flavours, colours shapes and sizes, and it can bewilder even the most experienced anglers at times. We recommend finding a bait that works on your particular lake and trying that or something similar. If fishmeal baits dominate, then try a boilie like the Krill from Sticky or the Royal Marine from Baitworks.

Generally, any bait from the top manufacturers will work really well. They will contain all the necessary ingredients carp are looking to accept as part of their diet and they will be happily eaten by them. A lot of fishing is down to preference and how long you are fishing for. If you do short sessions on the way to and from from work or longer sessions where there are no facilities to store bait, a shelf-life will be far more suitable than a freezer bait, as it won't go off when left in the car.

Similarly, if you have lots of freezer space and want the freshest bait possible for your fishing, then a freezer bait is by far the best option, it also allows you to buy in bulk and save money too. The last thing you want to do is get too preoccupied on changing your bait, find something that works well for you and stick with it, as generally its not the bait that isn't working. Doubting your bait can knock your confidence and cause your catch rate to suffer because of it.


Freezer bait: A bait that has to be frozen in order to preserve it.

Shelf-life: A bait that has small amounts of preservatives added so that it can be kept fresh without freezing.

Amino acids:  Amino acids are molecules that combine to form proteins. Amino acids and proteins are the building blocks of life. When proteins are digested or broken down, amino acids are the result.

Fishmeal: Fishmeal is dried and ground fish, usually marine fish such as herring or sardines.

Palatants: Ingredient systems that are specially designed to improve food consumption by appealing to the taste or smell of an animal.

Milk protein:  Milk protein is a type of protein that is derived from filtered milk and is formed from whey and casein proteins.

Esters: Any of a class of compounds that react with water to produce alcohols and organic or inorganic acids.

Essential oils: A natural oil obtained by distillation and having the characteristic odour of the plant or other source from which it was extracted, such as lavender or peppermint.

Water soluble:  The ability of something to dissolve into water, the better the solubility the more easily it dissolves and spreads through the water column.

Base mix: A dry mix of ingredients that will generally contain some binders along with fishmeals, nut meals and various other ingredients that are manufacturer specific.

Air drying: A way of prolonging the bait by leaving to dry out completely in the air. The baits will need rehydrating before use.

Rehydrating: Adding water and liquids to an air dried bait to allow it to soak and draw in moisture, making it soft and attractive again.

Frequently asked questions on boilies

Are freezer baits better than shelf-life?

If you asked this question 15 years ago we would categorically say yes, but the advancements in processing and natural preservatives now available mean there is very little difference, if any, in the majority of baits. The only discernible difference is some changes to texture, with the shelf-life baits being slightly tougher, which can be beneficial if small fish are a pest.

How long does a freezer bait stay fresh?

This is entirely dependable on the ingredients in the boilie itself. As a rule of thumb, if the bait is fishmeal based, it will go bad much faster than a nut-based bait, with most fishmeals lasting around 3-4 days (unless it is really warm) before they start to go rotten. You can prolong the bait by air drying or add a few days by soaking in a liquid high in salt. You can always refreeze any unused bait at the end of a session.

Is a fishmeal better than a nut/milk protein bait?

There are a few factors to consider when choosing what bait is right for you. Water temperature can play a big part with most anglers tending to reduce the amount of fishmeal bait they use as the water cools. What bait do the fish prefer on your lake? This may sound unusual, but some lakes definitely show preference to certain types of baits, so it is well worth identifying what baits do well on your particular lake.

Can you use a fishmeal in winter?

Many successful anglers choose to use a fishmeal bait 12 months of the year. If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for us. Just be careful on the quantities used, as the fish will find high oil fishmeal baits harder to digest in the colder months, but they certainly won't be put off taking them.

What size boilies should I use?

Boilie size is entirely dictated by how you want to use the bait, if you’re catapulting bait or using a throwing stick, then larger 15-20mm baits are more suitable, but if you’re adding lots to a particle mix, it can be more beneficial to add smaller 8mm and 10mm boilies to keep the fish feeding for longer. If nuisance fish like bream and roach are present, 18-20mm baits are much more selective and should vastly reduce the number of other fish you’re likely to catch.

How do I air dry my boilies?

Best done in an air dry bag or a net, simply pour the boilies into the bag and allow them to dry out naturally. Depending on temperature, they can take a few days to a few weeks to fully dry. It is important to shake the baits to allow them all to be exposed to the air.

How do I rehydrate a boilie?

Put simply, just put your baits into water, generally 24-48 hours before your session, allowing them to draw in the water and become soft and useable again. It is a good idea to add some liquid attractors to the water too, as whatever flavours you put in will be absorbed by the boilies, giving extra attraction when introduced into the lake.

Author Aidan Bordiuk is an enthusiastic angler who enjoys all fishing disciplines from match fishing to beach casting. He is currently occupying the position of Commercial Content Writer at Angling Times.

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