altbait1.jpgThe most overlooked secret to winning the fishing game can come from saving money on bait! How, you ask?!

Many anglers miss-out on fantastic catches even though the baits they use have proved to be reliable and popular big fish catchers. But you can save a lot of wasted bait and improve your catch rate without spending a fortune.

Most carp anglers use boilies, pellets and hemp, maize, sweetcorn and prepared commercial ground baits as part of a feeding pre-baiting strategy, to attract and hold fish in their swim. These are obviously consistent baits for carp. Often the hidden (or obvious) problem, is that you end up with many fish gorging upon your free ground baits and not getting hooked at all, or comparatively little compared to the feeding activity going on in your swim.

This feeding pattern can occur far more than people are aware of and when you attempt to calculate just how much of your bait is almost certainly going to waste you start to realise that something has to be done to swing the odds your way.

Why bother putting free baits into a fishery when most of it ends up just feeding the fish and not translating into your catch results? Just because you change your bait you will not always see different results from doing the same old things. Carp are expert at keeping ahead of our angling activities, our commonly-used baits and methods and in detecting those hook baits.

altbait2.jpgSo the trick is, trying to keep ahead of the fish and not wasting your hard-earned money every week on bait that does not convert into fish.

Without doubt angling can be expensive. Just going fishing costs money with missed money-earning time,

travelling costs, fishing permits, tackle, food – and wasted free bait if you don’t get it right!

Every fishery is different and these days there are many waters that are over-stocked to the degree that it appears everyone catches fish successfully. But who is to know just how much better your individual catches can really be until you truly get innovative and prove it to yourself?

The skill and art of baiting a swim with free baits and the importance of its correct application and timing etc, has been a key component in many consistent big carp captures over the decades. I include here maggots, groundbaits, boilies, pellets and certain flavoured pigeon seed mixtures and so on. Cheap baits are easy to find if you know where to look. Seeds and pulses, both whole and cracked, pellets and powders and oils and liquids can all be used to trick bait-spooky carp.


Animal feed specialists like Marriages Feed and Backhurst of,, Normandy and Hinders, who supply animal feeds to horse and wild bird keepers, are full of great carp foods at very cheap costs, compared to the local tackle shops. To give you an example of some of the potential savings: a 1/2 gallon of cod liver oil will cost around £7.00 which is typically the price of 500mls in a local fishing tackle shop! A 250ml bottle of hemp oil from a top name bait company will set you back £6.50 but for the same price you can get 500ml from the local Tesco’s!

Did this carp fall for the flavour of the sugar covered strawberry pencils or was it the odd shape of the bait or the colour or a combination of all three?

Once you have become used to using alternative baits the opportunities are huge. You just have to think outside the box and be prepared to experiment a little. Carp are used to the same old round bait so give them something different and see what happens.


You don’t need to limit your baits to something that will easily mount on a hair and cast miles out into the lake. Soft baits can now easily be used by inserting the soft food source into a Fox Armour mesh bag and adding that to the hair. This new product now opens up our bait selection opportunities to a great extent.

Another sweet toothed carp that fell to two Skittles mounted on a size 12 ring rig.



In the photos we can see me trying something completely new in terms of hook baits, a small bag of curried baked beans, something that would have been unachievable before Fox introduced Armour Mesh.

A small bag was tied and put onto a hair with a small PVA bag of pellets to ensure the rig does not tangle.

With the rig cast out, I did not have to wait too long for a take. Although baked beans are not the cleanest bait I have ever had to use, I definitely found it very effective.

Keep your think-head on. Next time you are out on the bank and you are struggling to catch, why not try something a little different? You never know, it may just put a carp on the bank.

Tight Lines

Ian Gemson –