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

• Best All-Season Boilie - Mainline Cell

• Best Soluble Boilie - Nutrabaits Soluble Boilie

• Best Natural Boilie - DNA Baits The Bug

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 fishmeal boilie


The bait that took Sticky stratospheric, Sticky Baits The Krill is an absolute monster of a


  • 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.


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


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

Best nut boilie


A sweet, creamy bait, Dynamite Baits Monster Tiger Nut has a lovely vanilla aroma that makes you


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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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