The best baits for coarse fishing are maggots, casters, worms, sweetcorn and pellets. There are however many factors to take into consideration before deciding what bait to use, such as the conditons and the type of fish you are targeting.
As a beginner to coarse fishing, you will probably be wondering what is the best bait for coarse fishing? In truth, you can catch on pretty much anything, within reason of course.
With so many options out there it can be difficult to know where to start. We have put together this helpful guide to show you what is the best bait for coarse fishing.
Whether you are a total beginner or a novice looking for some guidance, this is the perfect place to start if you are looking for guidance on what is the best bait for coarse fishing.
What is the best bait for coarse fishing?
Fishing with Maggots
For a complete beginner, maggots are the best bait to start with. You can catch pretty much any fish on maggots. Maggots are cheap and are available at most, if not all tackle shops. They are usually sold in pints or half-pints.
Ask any angler, and they will all say the same thing; they fished with maggots when they first started as a new angler.
Maggots are available in many different colours. Maggots are naturally white, however, their colour can be changed by dying the meat that they eat. To keep things simple, you should initially stick with simple colours like white and red. These are the most popular and often the most effective.
As we explained in our Coarse Fishing for Beginners guide, a small hook with a single or double maggot can produce some fantastic results. All coarse fish eat maggots, so regardless of where you are fishing or what you are targeting, maggots are a fantastic bait to start with.
Remember to ensure they have enough small air holes in your bait box to allow them to breathe. In warm weather, maggots can sweat (which can also lead to them escaping) so ask the tackle shop for some maize flour which soaks up the moisture. To store your maggots, keep them cool, preferably in a fridge overnight.
Maggots are the larva of houseflies. They stay as maggots for around six to eight days, though the temperature plays a huge role in this (they will stay as maggots for longer if kept cool.). After the six to eight days, they will then turn into casters.
Wondering what is the best way to hook a maggot? Check out our guide on how to correctly hook a maggot.
Fishing with Casters
Casters are the chrysalis of a maggot before it turns into a fly (like the cocoon of a caterpillar before it turns into a butterfly). They are essentially a lifeless maggot with a hard shell and are slightly smaller than a maggot.
Casters are available in most tackle shops alongside maggots. Of course, you could always use your leftover maggots and wait for them to turn into casters, but for good quality casters, you would be better off buying them from the tackle shop.
Similar to maggots you can catch pretty much anything on casters. Fishing with casters can often lead to bigger catches than with maggots. Casters are most effective when fishing for roach, tench, bream, and carp.
Casters have a short life span and usually last around four to five days. Similar to maggots, store them in a cool place. Store in an airtight plastic bag, otherwise you could end up with a big fly problem if you forget about them.
Fishing with Worms
Natural baits such as words can be very effective. Fish are used to eating natural foods such as worms all the time, so they are not very suspicious of a worm as hook bait.
There are many different types of worms, however, to keep things simple, stick with the common earthworm. You can find these in your garden, though worms are also available in local tackle shops.
Worms are particularly effective for catching perch, roach, chub, tench, and carp, however all coarse fish can be caught on worm.
When fishing with worms, fish will generally find them at the bottom of the pond or lake, so try fishing them off the bottom. That is not to say that you cannot catch with them when fishing shallow, but the bottom is generally a good place to start.
Fishing with Sweetcorn
Corn or sweetcorn is another cheap and effective bait. You can purchase sweetcorn from your local supermarket.
Sweetcorn is a great bait for attracting coarse fish like roach, tench, bream, barbel, and carp.
Sweetcorn is very popular amongst anglers as you can keep a tin in your seat box or bait bag for years before it expires.
One or two pieces of corn on a size 14-16 hook whether you are float fishing or ledgering can be very successful. Corn is also good to add to your groundbait as it’s bright colour is fantastic at attracting fish to your swim.
Fishing with Pellets
Pellets are a man-made bait, but full of natural goodness for fish.
Particularly at commercial fisheries, pellets are used as both hook baits and loose feed. Most fish in commercial lakes or ponds have been fed pellets since they were small fry. Made up of protein, vitamins, and minerals, they are fed to fish early on to help them grow.
As the fish have been brought up on pellets, they are not as suspicious as other baits and are hard to resist.
Pellets come in numerous sizes and can be purchased both hard and soft. Hard pellets are good for loose feed. Hard pellets can also come with a hole in the middle to allow you to hair-rig them. If they do not come with a hole, you could always use a small bait drill to create the hole yourself. However, you could purchase soft, hookable pellets if you would prefer.
The smaller pellets are good for loose feed and for an addition to your groundbait
Top Tip: Lots of commercial lakes and ponds have a bait shop on-site and they will often stock the very same pellets the fish have been brought up eating. They are usually cheaper than the well known fishing bait brands, and as the fish have been brought up on them, they are usually the best type to choose.
Most fish in commercial fisheries can be caught using pellets, however, they are particularly good for carp. Use a larger pellet for larger carp.
Pellets can be heavy and can take on a lot of water when in water, so make sure your float is weighted correctly. You should fish with pellets on the bottom initially, or a smaller pellet if you want to fish shallower.
Fishing with Pellet Paste
Pellet paste (or just ‘paste’) is ground up pellets, but in a paste form, however usually with additional attractors/flavours added to it. (Not always ground up, they can sometimes be mashed up, wet pellets).
The paste is moulded onto the hook and fished in the same way as pellets above.
Once the paste hits the water, the flavours spread through the water, attracting the fish.
The soft nature of the paste is handy for hooking fish, as the hook will usually pull through the paste when you strike.
However, a word of caution, when using paste it can sometimes be difficult to learn the best techniques for keeping the paste moulded on the hook.
A good technique is to spread (but not firmly) the paste into the size of a 50p, place the hook in the middle and fold the paste around the hook. Ideally, the paste will look fluffy and as natural as possible.
Similar to pellets, paste can be heavy and can take on a lot of water when in water, so make sure your float is weighted correctly. You should fish with paste on the bottom initially.
Fishing with Meat
Like sweetcorn, Luncheon Meat is a cheap and resourceful bait. You can keep a tin in your bait bag or seat box for years without it going out of date.
Lots of coarse fish like meat, and it is particularly useful when fishing for carp, tench, chub, barbel, and bream.
You can use meat in a variety of different methods, whether that be on the pole, float fishing with a rod, ledgering or simply free lining a cube of meat down the margins.
Most anglers cut up the mean into small cubes using bait cutters, cutting all cubes to the same size. This is useful for loose feed, but for your hook bait, think about having a slightly larger piece of meat, or a more natural-looking bait rather than a cube.
To hook the meat, push your hook through the meat, bring it out of the other side, and turn the hook 90 or 180 degrees. This stops the hook pulling back through the hole you have just made.
You may also want to use a hook stop as the smallest movement can easily cause the wet meat to fall off the hook when in water. You could also use a hair rig as an alternate method for your hook bait.
If float fishing, remember you will need to be fishing on the bottom, as the weight of the meat will be too heavy for your float. That is not to say that you cannot fish shallower with meat, perhaps try using a smaller cube of meat, or have a more heavy-duty float set-up.
You could experiment with luncheon meat by adding different flavours or colours to the meat to make it even more attractive to fish.
Fishing with Cheese
Cheese is often overlooked by a lot of anglers. Not only is it relatively cheap and easy to buy at all supermarkets, but it’s also a very capable bait.
Cheese is particularly useful for attracting carp, chubb, and tench. Cheese can be fished any method, whether float fishing with pole or rod, and also by ledgering.
You can hook cheese in several ways. Whether you push the hook through the cheese, hair rig, or you could mould the cheese around the hook.
You can buy many different types of cheese. Fish like smelly things, which makes cheese the perfect bait. With so many stinky cheeses to choose from, you can try different cheeses and find what works best for you.
As well as cheese as a hook bait, you could also mix soft cheese to some bread crumb or groundbait which can make for a very good, stinky attractor for fish.
Fishing with Bread
Bread is a very versatile bait and you can catch most coarse fish with bread, with carp, roach, tench, bream, and chub.
Bread can be a very delicate bait to fish with as once wet it can easily fall off your hook. Many angers utilise a bread punch, which is a tool used to punch a small hole in a slice of bread, allowing you to hook the bread directly from the bread punch. This is particularly useful when fishing with a pole on a delicate set up.
For rod fishing, you could either use a bread punch or simply pull apart a piece of bread and mould it around your hook. Try to keep the bread as natural looking as possible and try to keep it looking fluffy and attractive to fish.
Casting with bread takes a little bit of practice. Try to keep your casting technique as smooth as possible otherwise, the bread will fall off the hook.
Bread floats – which makes it a fantastic bait for surface fishing. Using an uncut loaf or breadstick, you can freeline bread. You can either hook straight into the tough crust or hair rig the bread. Surface fishing with bread is a particularly useful tactic for catching carp
Using bread with a tough crust allows you to get extra distance on your cast. For additional weight for your cast, dip the bread into the water. As a beginner, you should use a bubble float to give you extra distance and control over your cast.
Breadcrumbs or liquidised bread (blended up bread) is useful for creating a good attractor for fish by using it as an additive to, or as a groundbait. You can also add water to the breadcrumb and turn the crumb into a paste for hook bait. There are lots of things to experiment with, perhaps add some molasses, treacle or honey to adjust the consistency.
Fishing with Dog Biscuits
Believe it or not, but carp love dog biscuits. They are almost always used for surface fishing and are an excellent bait for catching carp. Particularly in warmer months when carp are on the surface, fishing on the surface is a very effective tactic.
Dog biscuits or chum mixers are often used by anglers. You can soak the biscuits in water to soften them, allowing you to hook or hair rig them. Alternatively, you could drill the middle of the biscuit to allow you to hair rig them.
As well as carp, bream, roach, rudd and occasionally tench, barbel and chub can be caught on the surface.
You could either freeline the dog biscuits or use a surface float for additional casting weight. When surface fishing it’s a good idea to gain the fish’s confidence by loose feeding.
Again, you can experiment by adding different colouring and flavours to the dog biscuits. You could also alternate your bait between dog biscuits and bread.
Why not check out our comprehensive floater rod buyers guide to help you find the best rod for your next floater fishing adventure.
Fishing with Boilies
Similar to pellets, boilies are man-made, made up of ingredients like fishmeals, proteins, flour and egg, They are rolled into a ball and boiled. When boiled they harden, which makes them an ideal hook bait, as they will stay on your hook for a long time.
There are many different types of boilies, which have different bright colours and flavours used to attract fish.
Boilies are almost always used as bait for catching carp, but can also be used to catch tench, bream, chub, barbel and roach and catfish.
The primary tactic used for fishing with boilies is ledgering, however, there are many different techniques used for supplying loose feed around your bait.
Many anglers use a boilie throwing stick to throw in loose boilies around their hook bait, whilst others use an additional rod to drop bait around their hook bait, known as spodding. You could also add dissolvable PVC bags to your hook bait filled with boilies and other bait,
There are lots of types of boilies available to buy from tackle shops, however, you could also make your own which is a cheaper alternative.
Fishing with Groundbait
Groundbait is a mixture of lots of different ingredients used to throw into your swim to attract fish to you, and also to keep them in your swim. Some ingredients include fishmeal, breadcrumbs, hemp seeds, oils, and other attractors for fish.
Groundbait comes in powder form and you simply add water to it to mix. You can then form the groundbait into a ball and hand throw it in, use a catapult, or add it to your swim feeder when ledgering.
You can add pretty much any bait you are using to your ground bait, for example, maggots, casters, sweetcorn, meat, and pellets.
Groundbait can be very effective for attracting fish to your swim. The trick is to keep them there, but also keep the competition up between the fish, so they will be fighting over the food (or more specifically your hook bait).
It is important not to overfeed the fish, otherwise, they will eat up all of the groundbait and not come back.
The use of groundbait is almost always used when fishing on the bottom. If you are fishing shallow, then your groundbait will be keeping the fish away from your hook bait.
There are many different types of groundbaits which can be used to target one particular species or all species.
When buying groundbait, read the packet as it will indicate which fish the groundbait is used to target and the best way to mix the groundbait.
Fishing with Hemp Seed
Hemp seed is used in a similar way to groundbait, to create a layer of bait on the ground in your swim. Fish will come along and hoover up all of the groundbait and fingers-crossed your hook bait.
You can buy hempseed in a tin. Alternatively, you could buy help seed in bulk, however, you will need to boil it before you go fishing. Buying in bulk is particularly useful if you are going fishing for a long time, or if you plan to go fishing many times a week.
Hemp seed is particularly effective when fishing for carp, tench, chub, and barbel.
There are lots of different baits used to catch fish. Above is a breakdown of some common, relatively cheap and easily obtainable baits which can be used by all anglers. Not all baits are successful all of the time.
Sometimes you need to assess the situation, think about how you will be fishing and decide the best plan of attack.
Similarly, speak with other anglers and locals to find out the best baits and methods used for particular fisheries, as some venues fish better on particular baits.
Bait does not need to be expensive and you can buy lots of bait at your local supermarket.
It is also worth noting that most fisheries have rules which prohibit certain baits so make sure you check this before fishing.
Check out our coarse fishing beginners guide for more simple tips to help you on your fishing journey.