Making Cheap Homemade Carp Baits For Big Fish

Think about plants; and drugs might be an immediate response for many readers! This is a very stimulating point in regards to fishing baits! Although including a class A drug in your bait is not recommended, there are very many more proven plant substances and ingredients to leverage and exploit and many are so very cheap; so read on...

As a professionally trained grower, I suppose it comes as no surprise that one of my big interests over the years has been the application of plant derived bait substances and ingredients in fishing baits. Certainly they are even more significant and important now marine resources are becoming so scarce - and expensive!

You might even think plants are boring or even irrelevant to fishing until you consider where the majority of drugs come from and all that infers in terms of exploiting bioactive plant extracts and components in fishing baits! By this I do not mean put cocaine in your baits as you have no need; plants contain thousands of potent substances to exploit and leverage, acting in many powerful ways on fish senses, feeding moods, energy levels and physiology etc...

Carp angling pioneer Fred J. Taylor popularised the use of sweetcorn – an Indian food from the Gods (the carp Gods) that has made many a carp angler jolly!

Let us begin with a very cheap bait ingredient that is easy to use and is an instant fish catcher! Semolina, is made from wheat, and is a major bait ingredient, acting as a carbohydrate energy source and cheap practical bulk ingredient and binder. Wheat products are often used in combination with far more protein rich ingredients, but these often are far more expensive. This is one reason soya flour type products are used so universally for baits and fish pellets having around 35 percent protein and a relatively cheap price. However, semolina is extremely cheap, and in the case of full fat semolina, it has more nutritional value than ordinary grade semolina, but the over all nutritional value is still very low.

However it does have certain hidden properties and if you try to maintain a diet without consuming any wheat, you will personally find it extremely difficult, and you will notice actual withdrawal symptoms!

Un-enriched semolina, (like the wheat it is made from,) has a protein content of around 9 to 12 percent on average and this is gradually dropping as a result of soil nutrient depletion in the soils wheat is grown in. In Russia a gigantic area of over 30,000 hectares was laid bare in order to grow wheat for the Russian People, by Khrushchev. The first 2 year’s yields were good, but the third was a disastrous failure due to this very common progressive problem of soil nutrient depletion by intensive and extensive farming practices.


Durum wheat is the hardest particle-forming wheat used for durum wheat semolina (as opposed to the soft forms used to produce flour used in baking.)

However, wheat’s low protein content, and limited amino acid profile does not stop it catching fish! Even refined white flour based baits have caught me some big fish; so obviously protein is not the only bait consideration; in fact far from it! (Protein is only part of the equation and many effective baits use completely different leverages of substances to achieve their impacts upon fish behaviours...) Even a ready made pastry mixture is a useful instant mouldable carp bait. It even has fish (and human) stimulatory oils, salts and sugar added! It is very interesting how salt and sweeteners re-train taste reception cells; and this is well worth further consideration.

An early eighties January twenty - wheat makes great digestible winter baits!

Adding molasses or specifically designed carp mineral and vitamin supplements, to un-enriched low-fat semolina is an effective method to use to boost nutritional attraction. Even adding a Minamino type products or corn steep liquor alone works wonders, when compared to using even full-fat semolina without these nutritionally stimulating additions. They provide fish with more nutritional substances leaching outwards and dissolving in the water; so providing more reasons for carp to actually recognise your baits as stimulating potential food!

Wheat flour is a great binder and a well-proven carp bait in itself; as a component of bread, bread paste, flake etc. Simply using ordinary white wheat flour with added eggs or water will catch carp, although adding a little salt will make quite a difference as the improved palatability and attraction by the minerals really helps!

Cereals are deficient nutritionally in many of the fish-excitory substances. This is in the case of the highly stimulatory amino acid called lysine especially. But all the cereals have various examples of other positive bait factors in their favour, including certain habit-forming peptides, or stimulating pigment antioxidants, or water-soluble proteins, or water-soluble sugars, potent antioxidant-rich oils, and the fish feeding trigger, betaine (in various levels,) and so on.

If I use very cheap bait ingredients to make an effective instant bait, I often go for wheat or oats, and their derivatives. I prefer using wholemeal wheat flour, wheat bran, wheat germ, and oat meal and oat bran. (Wheat gluten is also very useful in homemade bait making of course.) Certain of these have more nutritional value in terms of stimulatory amino acids, vitamins, minerals and betaine for instance, than the more refined white forms derived from grains and cereals.

Ear Ear!

Prepared soaked, cooked and fermented wheat is a great bait, like pearl barley and groats, crack corn and maize. Other stages of grains and cereals development contain high levels of very stimulatory active enzymes among other benefits... (Now what more can be said about wheat germ oil and its benefits?)

Maize meal is a useful very cheap bait ingredient that adds hardness to baits. It is known to contain betaine and antioxidant pigments among other benefits and as it has a relatively bland taste; added flavours can come through very distinctly. Adding wheat germ and tiger nut flour or soya flour certainly makes for a simple cheap bait with more nutritional attraction. It is a good carrier bait for flavours or a food additive like liquid yeast, liver, Minamino, or corn steep liquor etc. (Adding mineral salts and vitamin supplements always improves results with such baits!)

Cereals are commonly deficient in lysine. This fish-essential amino acid is certainly highly stimulatory to specific carp sensory systems. It might be news to some that adding bean or pulse flour or tiger nut meal
to cereals produces a bait with a better amino acid profile including lysine, and betaine too. Soya flour is also relatively rich in lysine although how much is actually able to be fully digested and assimilated into fish tissues and so on is not so clear cut!

Certain de-hulled grains known as groats are renowned for their high betaine content. These also can contain significant bioactive substances, like phytoalexin antibiotics and immunity substances, including alkaloids, terpenoids and glycosteroids. Terpenes, such as vanillin, geranium terpene, are well-known as carp bait attractants. (Citrus terpenes like that of oranges appear rather overlooked at present for instance.)

Vanillin has been a potent flavour component in carp baits and flavours for decades!

In plants many bioactive substances such as the terpenes like vanillin in vanilla, defend against moulds and certain gram positive bacteria for example; so they obviously are actively potent! (It is surprising just how many synthetic flavours contain vanillin, like very many strawberry flavours for example, so although artificial, they may not all be truly classed as totally unnatural, artificial or synthetic...)  

Many very cheap ingredients and additives have highly significant chemical and physical properties. (However, most really great bioactive carp bait flavours are not cheap and are very expensive to produce and get to market!) In contrast, cheap highly sweet malt extract powder has very useful hygroscopic properties, (and thus great solubility.) It has very well proven bait and fish taste impacts for example, which really can boost bait effectiveness and palatability in fish. It is out of fashion and little-used today, (although very popular in the past.) Perhaps now is just the time to be exploiting it; perhaps alongside vanilla powder, with its intrinsic attractive terpenes!

Barley malt extract; a cheap relatively forgotten edge these days...

Soya flour has many grades and although it is one of the top 3 major plant protein sources in the world, it has many drawbacks in fishing baits, even though carp and catfish for instance are attracted to it. The fact that it has major limitations in regards its useful protein digestion and uptake inside carp (and humans,) is not to be ignored.
But it does have a plentiful supply of lysine, and this important fish-feed stimulating amino acid is often found deficient in many natural foods for fish and humans.

However, in soya products how much of this lysine is actually utilised for growth and is not directly wasted is a very good question. Soya is a very major component of most Chinese carp growers pellets. I have had great success using soya protein isolate in baits combining various milk protein ingredients which shows the fish certainly know all about the nutrition in such ingredients even if they cannot fully digest or utilise them in their bodies! Soy has side benefits like the artery widening isoflavones proven to help recovery in stroke victims, but it is interesting that humble chick peas are particularly rich in these too.

IDS liquid whey and casein isolate – whatever next?!

It might be argued that focussing on carp requirement for nitrogen and amino acids is merely one bait approach. There are far more angles to exploit than this!

As a side note for this very cheap but effective big fish bait piece: There is nothing wrong with using a very cheap supermarket flavour as an alternative to popular, but expensive flavours. If you look you can find some very interesting ones with new and different bases. One example is orange oil flavour from Tescos. Combine a few millilitres of this with a few milliliters of liquid lecithin, and you have a good winter attractor for a winter bait.

Your winter bait can be very cheaply based on tiger nut meal, wholemeal flour and gram flour. There’s no need for high protein values if you focus on specific bait aspects to do the job, even if you are not really covering all nutritional and other stimulatory angles as it were!

Gram flour is a relatively little-used pulse, rich in betaine and lysine like lentils. You will find it in the new Polish food isles and shops springing-up around the country!) You can liquidise some cheap liver to add extra protein and more water-soluble proteinous attraction. You might boost soluble attraction; adding natural vanilla powder perhaps from Ccmoore, plus malt extract, with added eggs and rich black strap molasses.

Parmesan and blue cheese powder are very useful lysine containing additives that are rich in the now familiar butyric acid, and stimulating mineral salts too. N-butyric acid is well proven in lower temperatures below 15 degrees Celsius; so it is ideal for autumn, winter and spring baits. But why use it with a fruit or sweet flavour like the now very popular pineapple which your carp might be very cautious of these days? Rod Hutchinson’s Megaspice, or maple steep liquor, or Nash bait’s peach or strawberry oil palatants are well worth a go; these days the choice of excellent flavours is vast, but the best are often not cheap.

One of the cheaper flavours for winter I’ve use lots is Bun Spice B, and this has proven excellent for some very big fish in cheap baits and even flavouring maize to great effect. A few drops of Olbas oil in winter is a good edge in cheap baits too. Adding very cheap wheat bran or oat bran improves bait digestion and enriches it with stimulatory betaine too...

Tiger nut oil is a rich energy source with potent antioxidant omega 3 oils with vitamin E. It is very likely that one of the aspects of this oil that makes it especially effective for carp is in its property of raising fish metabolism.

Premium grade liquid lecithins from for instance give this a real kick for winter time. Tiger nut oil is ideal as it stays liquid even a normal refrigeration temperatures and you can mix it with hemp oil or other oils to make it different!

Tiger nuts are tubers – but carp don’t mind! (Image courtesy of

I often do not make my baits into balls or cylinders at all – much of my bait is made by hand, (lightening fast) and is made completely random in size and shape. Also for example, you can even make 3 different versions very quickly with different textures, densities and buoyancies to more easily fool the fish into taking your hook bait, and release stimulation into the water over different periods in different ways at different rates...

Having made your baits and bagged them up, adding black strap molasses, corn steep liquor, pure maple syrup or betaine HCL into the bag, (before defrosting) will really boost them; and away you go!

So many beans are good for you and your carp; and most do not have the limiting properties possessed by soy beans. They are very economical and very effective, but perhaps not as fashionable as they could be, at present; so using right now is a very good idea...

To improve attraction and raise that essential but often quite limited lysine bait content, you can use ground beans and pulses which are rich in lysine, and the feeding trigger, betaine too in one hit. Tinned chick peas as a background feed has been something I’ve done for years as part of my ground baits.

But there is far more you can do and over the last 5 years especially my bait research for my bait secrets volumes has uncovered far more significant patterns and aspects of baits substance bioactivity than I ever imagined. Often the most innocently cheap and common foods have very potent effects in our bodies and in stimulating carp too. This is not simply in nutritional ways either, but in ways that train physiological responses and tastes, brain hormone releases that influence fish behaviours, and many other potent exciting things that over time and repeated introductions can put more fish in your net!

A late eighties autumn lump caught repeatedly on the same cheap homemade bait!

Beans and seeds can make very cheap powerful baits and the bird foods and hemp have featured very heavily in angling literature and press. All it takes is lateral thinking a field-testing to discover new avenues, or reinvigorate those older ones which have been less explored by the majority, and gain significant edges foe little cost in bait. At the same time!

For instance, you can make a paste from highly nutritious humus and sesame seed Tahini, bound with any of the cheap flours and meals already mentioned. And mixing cooked tinned lentils, adzuki beans, mung beans, and liquidised red kidney beans for instance, straight from the can is very cheap, quick easy and very instant-acting.

You might choose to add almost anything else, like a few added hemp or sesame seeds, desiccated coconut, or tiger nut meal. Adding and a little hemp oil (bulked-up with cheap sesame seed oil,) creates quite a very nutritional alternative all-season ground bait. (This is a very simple example and there are vastly superior ones to this however!)

This can be used to bulk-up more expensive readymade ground baits etc.
Cereal bran, and bean and pulse soluble fibres are implicit in the lowering of heart disease and improve digestion efficiency. Betaine is part of this effect and betaine is a vital dietary component especially for detoxifying blood for example.

What can be said about that all important dietary fibre? Now do you remember the infantile, but truism that goes: Beans, beans, good for your heart; the more you eat, the more you... (The finishing word rhymes with the middle part!)

Maybe this sounds funny to you, but in fact the truth about what really works in baits is in what they say; that the proof is in the eating...

By Tim Richardson.

Now why not improve your catches for life and get these?

Tim Richardson is a homemade carp and catfish bait maker and proven big fish angler with over 30 years experience. His unique bait making and readymade bait enhancing fishing secrets guides are catching far more big fish for anglers just like you in over 45 countries - so why not get yours right now!