Pre Baiting For Carp

pre baiting for carp

Pre baiting for carp is one of the biggest edges you can have over other anglers on your chosen venue. Pre baiting a particular area improves fish confidence, get’s them used to seeing your bait as a food source and therefore marking them easier to catch.

At least that’s the idea anyway!

But it’s not easy to get it right. Baiting up for carp is something that comes with experience. Over time you will gain a better understanding of what areas of the lake to focus your attention and how much bait to use in your baiting mission.

It’s all trial and error, but hopefully some of the tips in this article can help you have some success with your pre-baiting campaign.

What is pre-baiting for carp

Pre-baiting is the practice of baiting a particular swim regularly prior to fishing, in the hope that in will attract carp to the area.

It’s a tactic widely used on the big carp scene, as a way of getting carp confident feeding in a swim, and on a specific bait. The idea is quite simple, offer plenty of free bait over a regular time, thus increasing the likelihood of carp re-visiting that area.

You can then choose to fish the area after baiting for a few weeks and allowing the carp chance to understand that the area is safe for a free feed!

Pre-baiting is a proven tactic that most anglers should try at least. If all goes well, you can experience your most prolific captures from a pre-baited area.

pre baiting canal
A nice mirror from the Leeds Liverpool Canal, taken after baiting close to the boats for two weeks.

Why does pre-baiting work?

Here are some of the reasons why pre-baiting works as a carp fishing tactic:

  • It increases the carps confidence to feed in an area that you choose
  • Makes carp associate your chosen bait with free food
  • Allows you to attract carp to an area that isn’t often visited by anglers, allowing you to be ‘on the fish’ more frequently

Tips for carp baiting

Choose the right area

Choosing the right area to pre-bait is vital to a successful campaign. You don’t want to be piling the bait into an area that the carp simply do not visit. – That’s wasted bait and effort.

At the same time, you don’t want to focus heavily on swims that are too popular. In an ideal scenario, you want to be able to get access to the swim whenever the time is right to drop a rod in.

For that reason, try to look for quieter areas of the lake or places that the carp travel through but don’t naturally hold up in. Pre-bait is excellent for stopping carp in their tracks and can often turn a travel route into a consistent feeding spot.

Bait after dark

If you can, try to focus your pre-baiting after dark when nobody can see you. Whilst it may sound selfish, you’re probably going to spending a lot on bait and throw it into the lake.

It’s horrible when someone else turns up and catches fish off the back of your hard work. And they will if they see carp jumping over your baited spot.

Unlike the old days, there isn’t much etiquette in the world of carp fishing. And this only seems to have gotten worse with how busy day ticket lakes have become recently.

baiting up at night
Baiting up after dark is ideal so others don’t find your spots!

Bait up multiple areas

Even if you manage to bait up after dark, there’s nothing stopping someone else fishing your area. After all, you’re all paying to fish the same water.

For that reason, it makes sense to focus your pre-baiting on multiple areas of the lake.

Not only will this give you more options, but it will give you more opportunity to establish a regular feeding area amongst the carp.

If one of your areas is occupied by another angler when you turn up, you can simply drop into the other area. Win-win!

Keep the bait going in regularly

The key to successful pre baiting is to keep the bait going in regularly. You need to give the carp confidence that when they visit your area, they’ll get a free meal.

The more frequently you can bait up the better. That being said, if you can only do a couple of times a week, just increase the quantity of bait rather than spreading it over smaller trips.

Make your own clear spots by baiting little and often

One of the beauties of pre-baiting is that you can make your own clear spots by regular baiting. The more carp feed on a spot, the clearer is will become as they syphon through the debris and weed on the lakebed.

If you have chance to boat over the spot or use a winch cam, you may even see the spot growing in size. This is an excellent indicator that your spot is being frequently visited by carp.

Avoid the shallows if bird life is present

Hungry bird life can be a nightmare when it comes to pre-baiting. If they can access your bait, they will eat the whole lot before the carp have a chance.

Try to avoid areas that are too shallow, particularly if you have plenty of bird life on the lake. In most cases, the deeper the better if you can get away with it.

carp lake swans
Avoid the shallows, particularly if they are swans present.

Respect other anglers

There may be times when you turn up and another angler is fishing in your baited swim. It’s important to be respectful in these situations and remember that they have as much right to fish these areas as you.

If you’re doing your baiting missions sneakily, it’s likely that they are not aware of the time and effort you’ve put in. Either way, that’s the chance you take when baiting up in advance. And another reason why you should have multiple spots going at any one time.

Best baits for pre-baiting

There are many different carp baits to choose from for your pre-baiting campaign. Typically, it makes sense to go for a good mixture of baits. This will give you various breakdown times and ensure that there are some bigger particles left behind after other items have dispersed.

Here are some baits that you may consider for your campaign:


Boilies are one of the most popular baits for carp. Packed full of protein, they are a welcome food source throughout the year.

Adding them to your pre-bait mix will definitely give you an advantage, as they break down and release attractants into your swim.

Not only that, but they make excellent hookbaits. This allows you to match your hookbait to the free offerings when you eventually come to fish your spot.

carp baiting
It pays to use a variety of baits in your mix.

Bear in mind, they are not cheap though and the cost can quickly raise if you focus all of your pre-baiting efforts on boilies. With the average bag of boilies around £10 per kilo, you may want to find cheaper baits to help you bulk them out a bit.


Most carp swimming these days were originally reared on carp pellets. For that reason it’s always good to have them in your mix.

They are super-high in protein and carp seek them out as a nutritious food source. Not only that, but being quite a small bait, they help to keep carp in your area grubbing around for longer periods of time.

There are plenty of carp pellets available on the market and you can even bulk buy them to make your pre baiting missions a little bit cheaper.


Carp love particles so it’s always worth having some in your mix, particularly through the warmer months.

Like pellets, particles are generally small in size which helps to keep carp in the area consuming smaller particles for longer periods of time.

There are a few manufacturers that offer ready-made particle bags and buckets that you can grab from your local tackle shops. These are ideal for pre baiting as you don’t need to mess about cooking up fresh particles every few days. Obviously if you’ve got the opportunity to do that then it will help save you some money.

Pigoen Conditioner

If you’re looking for cheap carp bait for baiting up, you can’t go wrong with pigeon conditioner. It’s essentially a mix of seeds and grains which are packed full of flavours and nutrients.

At first glance, it looks very similar to dried particle supplied by the likes of Monster Particles. Primarily designed for pigeons, it just so happens that it works perfectly as a carp bait too. And it comes without the added carp tax!

The obvious downside is that you can’t buy it pre-boiled. However if you’ve got the time and want to save some money, it’s an ideal option.

A 20kg dry bag costing £25 will typically yield around 40kg of bait once cooked. You might be able to increase the frequency of your baiting at that cost.

Pre Baiting FAQs

How much bait should you use when baiting for carp?

There is no definitive answer to this question. It depends on a number of factors including fish stock, time of year and venue.

For example, if you’re fishing a highly stocked lake, it might make sense to go for a few kilos every couple of days. A large stock of hungry carp will have no problem getting through that.

On the other hand, a small handful will do the trick if you’re fishing a long stretch of canal with only 10 carp in.

My biggest piece of advice when it comes to baiting is that you can put more in, but you can’t take it out.

It makes sense to start little and often, checking back to see signs of feeding activity or whether the bait has gone. You can then start to increase the baiting regime if you see results.

Is pre baiting suitable on all venues?

No, and in many cases it is simply impossible. Most busy day tickets only let you step onto the venue if you’re going to fish, so you can’t just turn up and start piling bait in.

Pre-baiting works best on quieter venues such as club lakes, syndicates and public canals and rivers. The sort of lakes where you can be left to your own devices and come and go as you please.

Does pre baiting always work?

Definitely not. There can be times when you get the location completely wrong and have wasted kilos of bait and countless trips. That’s why it’s always worth hedging your baits and priming a few other spots at the same time.

That way you can drop onto them if the other one seems quiet.

About the writer

Rob W

I’m Rob, Carp Squad’s main contributor. I’ve been carp fishing on and off for 15 years, but the bug is well and truly back at the moment. Hopefully the articles I write on here help you put more carp on the bank.

Find out more about me.

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