Many different types of bait are used worldwide for freshwater angling. Be they natural baits, artificial baits, live baits or just the humble maggot, all are effective in different conditions when tempting various species of fish.

Here are a few ideas for different, alternative baits to try.


Prawns are a good bait to use both for both freshwater and sea fishing. A tip for their use is to microwave them for a short period before use (usually 30 seconds is sufficient). This makes the skin a little tougher, helping to keep them on the hook.

Luncheon Meat

Easily available from the supermarket or in many different flavours from your local angling store. Cut into cubes and used on a hair rig, this is an ideal presentation to catch carp from your local stillwater.

An alternative method is to boil the cut pieces of meat, in Pepsi Cola for about 5 minutes (it has to be full fat Pepsi, not diet, lite or Pepsi Max). Leave to cool and then watch the fish bite!

Here is an explanation and diagram of a hair rig

Because the “Hair” is formed from the main line it is easier to tie and it is strong.

Hair rigs were designed for Carp fishing, the idea was to present a bait or particle baits to a carp without having the hook masked by a large bait.

Having the point of the hook outside of the baits gives better hooking of the fish.

Many carp rigs have been developed to try and stop the rig from tangling on on long casts, one such rig is the helicopter rig.

The hair – rig can be used with other species such as barbel.


Sweetcorn is very popular for use in winter months, but it is also a very effective all year round bait. The kernels of corn can be put directly on the hook or are simple to use on a hair rig. Specialist angling stores can supply flavoured and even different coloured corn, which can tempt a variety of species. Corn is inexpensive, very versatile and only needs to be used sparingly to keep the fish interested.

Dog Biscuits

Dog biscuits are ideal for use as floating bait in the summer months, when carp are often found cruising on the surface of stillwaters. These are generally used in conjunction with a controller float, which will enable the biscuit to be cast away from the bank and with a few loose biscuits catapulted into the close proximity.

Dog biscuits also work well when presented on a hair rig and fished on the bottom of a lake. A variation would be to use different colours and sizes of biscuit, which are readily available in dry food mixes.


Many people use worms, maggots or casters, but have you ever tried using a slug? Quite often found at the riverside, these are an excellent bait for chub, who find them very hard to resist. Even the large, black slugs are effective, but because of their size, they need to be presented on a large hook.


Widely used in years gone by, the potato has lost its popularity somewhat in recent times. Par-boiled and cut to similar sizes as pellets or boilies, they can be presented on hair rigs or directly on the hook. When also flavoured with gravy granules, coffee or maybe curry powder, they really can be a deadly bait to catch many species.


Elderberries are a good bait for roach in the autumn, especially if there is an elderberry bush nearby or even overhanging the water. In that case, it is highly likely that loose berries will fall in and will be eaten by the fish.


Readily available in the supermarket, this spiced sausage snack is ideal for use, especially on waters where boilies are banned. It is best to slice off the skin, as the smell of the meat oils will quickly leak in the water. Presented on the hook or hair rigged, it is very effective for carp. The extra hot variety however, in the red packaging, is considered far better by many anglers.


These are just a selection of coarse fishing baits that are easily available and popularly used by anglers today.