This article is written for beginners to carp fishing, but those carp fishermen who have been using ready-made boilies will still benefit from reading on. Carp boilies are probably the baits that have been used most by carp anglers over the years.
Whilst different fish meal pellets, ground baits, traditional carp baits and naturals never lose their allure, boilies have really stood the test of time.
What are carp boilies?
Carp boilies are simply small balls of mixed ingredients that have been boiled to form a hard skin. Hundreds if not thousands of ingredients have been used over the years.
In fact many carp fishermen see their boilie making shed as some kind of experimental laboratory where they seek the holy grail of an irresistible boilie that have the carp “crawling up the rods” looking for more.
Ingredients range from the known fish attractor ingredients and foods such as shrimp paste or powdered algae, to scientific concoctions involving alcohol esters, essential oils, and pheromones extracted from the most sexy carp from around the world!
(That last ingredient was a joke… I hope!)
Most carp fishermen buy ready-made carp boilies, either from the freezer or in stay fresh “shelf life” bags. Carp anglers tend to prefer the frozen boilies on the basis that they are fresher and more nutritious. They wonder if the preservatives might be sensed by a carp and rejected. Whilst this makes logical sense, some of my best days ever have been while using preserved shelf life boilies.
Shelf life boilies can still be effective even a year or two after manufacture.
The good old days before commercially made boilies
Back in the good old days when I started carp fishing there were no commercial boilies, we made our own. In fact the main reason for creating boilies was to help them stay on the hook, and to avoid being broken up by small nuisance fish. We might only have boiled them for 30 seconds ago just to put a skin on them.
We felt that extra boiling might denature the nutritional profile of the paste. This is true, cooked food is less nutritious that uncooked food. When it comes to carp fishing, it is more complicated than that though.
We went through a period of only using the freshest, most nutritional ingredients for our boilies, we decided that carp would always prefer a boilie of higher nutritional value…
… Just like humans right?
We experimented with top quality milk proteins, such as different casein and caseinate powders, more recently we have experimented with naturally nutritious “food baits” where the boilie ingredients were a mixture of food powders, rather than more processed and manufactured powders.
This is a grey area, but for example, adding liquid molasses would be a more “food like” ingredient than an artificial sweetener.
We also experiment with the texture of the boilies. Paste or lightly skinned baits still work for carp, they let the flavor of the ingredients leak out quicker, creating a tasty trail. Soft paste and boilies work especially well when everyone else has standard ready-made boilies. Ready made boilies tend to have a crumbly texture, where as home-made boilies tend to be more pasty.
Regardless of how fresh ready-made freezer boilies are, there is nothing more fresh and tasty as the boilies that you just made yourself. By experimenting with different ingredients you can create new flavors, textures, and end up with a bait that no one else is using on your local fishing venue.
It also makes sense to experiment with different shapes and sizes. For example very small 10 mm diameter boilies will create a particle carpet effect on the bottom of the lake. Flat boilies will lie better on silty bottoms.
Huge “donkey chokers” are boilies that are too big for smaller nuisance fish to get in their mouths…
...These tend to be 22mm-30mm in diameter. (Although I have seen some outrageously big balls shown to me by some wacky carp anglers).
Sky is the limit as far as boilie ingredients are concerned. As long as the mixture binds and boils OK, then that is fine. If you end up with an experimental mixture that does not bind or boil well, either ingredients could be added such as egg powder or semolina powder, or you can use the mixture in your ground-bait or in a feeder.
When you consider how much time you spend fine tuning your rigs, or walking around the water looking for signs of fish, a bit of time spent working on your own bait might work wonders.
Just imagine, that next home-made carp boilie that you create might help you become top rod on a water. By doing something different to the crowds, great results can occur. There is also extra satisfaction from catching fish on bait that you have made yourself.
Who knows, you might get so good at creating new carp boilies that you end up starting your own carp boilie company! It wouldn’t be the first time that this has happened.