Many years ago carp anglers were using worms, maggots, sweetcorn, cheese, bread and other food to try and catch carp but the biggest problem was that smaller fish like, Tench, bream, roach and others could pick up the small bait. Then they started using big pieces of luncheon meat, boiled potatoes and other larger baits until they developed the boilie. To start with they used to side hook the boilie but the catch to run rate was about 40 – 60. Out of 60 percent of the runs they had only 40 percent of them fish would be hooked and caught. Then there was a massive break through in carp fishing when, Kevin Maddocks and Lenny Middleton came up with the Hair Rig and boilies exploded onto the carp scene with devastating results. Because of the way you use the hair rig, people were making boilies as big as 40mm diameter, preventing the smaller fish from getting to their bait first. 40mm diameter is the extreme, the most common sizes used today are, 12mm, 15/16mm, 18mm and 20mm.

Boilies come in different shapes, sizes, colours and flavours. Round being the most common but can also come as dumbbell, pillow shaped or even as crushed pieces. They come in two different types, shelf life or frozen but no matter how they come, carp love them.

Boilies are made from paste that is boiled or steamed to harden them off in the shape that you prefer. They are usually boiled between 1-3 minutes depending how soft or hard you want then tobe. A lot of angler prefer a softer boilie because when the carp eat them they find it easier to digest them and pass them through their system. When using harder baits, it is thought that the fish can’t digest them that quickly, so they only eat a few before feeling full and stop feeding.

Boilies are made up of a combination of different ingredients such as, fishmeal, bird food, tiger nut flour, milk proteins, semolina, bread, soya flour and a host of other base ingredients. The base ingredients are weighed out to a certain formula, then mixed thoroughly with eggs and you can add a flavour and colour of your choice. Some popular flavours for boilies are, Tutti Frutti, Coconut, Krill, Pineapple, Crab, Strawberry, Plum and many more as the list is endless. Very popular colours are, Red, Yellow, Orange or fishmeal brown. A lot of people now are just adding flavour to their base mix and keeping it natural, or making them looked washed out like a light pink colour. They feel that more subtle colour will make it look like the bait has been in the water longer, giving the fish a sense of security that an angler hasn’t just put it there.

Whether you use frozen or Shelf Life boilies is your choice but some lakes specify frozen boilies only. Many years ago, shelf life boilies were frowned upon because of the chemical preservatives that was used in them but the shelf life boilie has massively moved forward since then. One way they stop them going off is to make them with powdered eggs instead of whole eggs. Nash Baits have took it one step further and have spoken to the food industry and have learnt how to stabilise the boil making their shelf life baits as close to frozen boilies a possible. Also I am told that some boilies are designed in such a way that if they haven’t been eaten off the lake bed in 3-4 weeks, they will start to float up to the surface and ducks and other wildlife can eat them, instead of them just sitting and rotting on the bottom of the lake. Over the last 8 years I have seen a massive change in views on shelf life over frozen boilies, with people preferring to opt for shelf life because of the massive advances in the way that they are made. Today it is very difficult to tell the difference between frozen and shelf life boilies.

A great tip when using frozen boilies, is to take them out of the freezer a couple of days before you go fishing and they will start to go sticky allowing all the sugars and flavours to come out of them. A lot of people throw them away when they are like this, also showing white patches on the bait but this is when they are at their best.

When using shelf life boilies, I’ll always put them in a bucket and add a thin oil, like hemp oil or glug so the bait sucks it in giving it a bit more attraction.