Alternative Hookbaits

With having a bit of time off over Christmas I’ve been able to get stuck into planning for my next French holidays, one in April for fishing and one hopefully in February for a short city break.

The April trip was booked early last year for Sapphire, however due to unforeseen circumstances we’ve had a late switch of venue to Beaurepaire and so the bait side needs a little attention.  Stewart and myself have been scouring the Angling Lines website over the last few weeks looking at various feedbacks, blogs and articles and now we’re at a stage where we start buying over the coming months.

All of the above is just a side note to what this article is really all about. As I’ve been looking through other anglers catch reports at various lakes, It struck me that nearly all fish captures reported are caught on boilies.  This prompted me to take a look through my old note books and work out the ratio of carp caught on boilies compared to other hookbaits. Not surprisingly boilies came out on top, however two different hookbaits attributed to a greater number of bigger sized carp than boilies did.

Here we get to the point of this blog, and I’m going to need some help from you anglers out there. The question is simple –What hookbaits, aside from boilies and popups, have caught you lots of or large carp in France?

In a hypothetical question, if I could only use one type of bait on the hair, what would it be?

hook baits carp fishing tips


My answer: Real and fake sweetcorn.

Sweetcorn has caught me a massive amount of French carp. My P.B mirror and next two biggest mirrors have all fallen to the golden grains.  The picture above shows my favourite sweetcorn rig; however, due to not wanting to open a new tin of sweetcorn for a photo, please imagine the two fake pieces near the hook as being two or three bits of real sweetcorn.  The two fake end pieces are buoyant and deliberately cocked at that angle.  For French fishing I would also use a bigger hook than pictured, a size six wide gape is my preferred choice for this rig.

hook baits carp fishing tips


I don’t know if the weird angles of the corn help, but I’ve always been a fan of getting hookbaits to stand out by not looking like anything normally put out as a bait.  Another alternative I use is to have a piece of buoyant fake corn at the bottom of the stack, with the weight of the three real pieces of corn it wafts almost like a question mark shape.

As for the top two pieces, they always sit side by side and are a different colour to each other. I’ve even started topping boilies like this, so it looks like two little ears sticking up. Anytime I fish in France I will start with this rig on at least one rod.  I think for quick bites and casting out single hookbaits, sweetcorn is the number one bait.

hook baits carp fishing tips


The other non-boilie hookbait I’ve had great sucess with came about from trying to catch catfish, only to end up catching lots of carp with it.  I don’t normally start with it on the hair, but it’s bailed me out several times during tricky sessions. I like to think of it as my super sub.

An 18mm Cat Master pellet accounted for my P.B common as well as most of the fish on my first Sapphire visit.  I don’t like using normal hallibut pellets as I find them a bit greasy, especially as I tend to fish in France during the early months of the year.  These have a nice hard outer skin with a soft middle, and in my opinion they don’t smell overly fishy.  I don’t add anything to it, it goes out straight from the tub as a flat out bottom bait.  The large pellets I chop in half or I might pick some of the outer skin off an 18mm size, but thats it, no extra flavour is added.

hook baits carp fishing tips


Strangely Cat Master pellets don’t seem to catch me catfish, the tiny specimen below is the only one I can ever remember catching with them in France.  I suppose fishing early in the year is more to blame than the bait, I must admit I’m not a huge fan of catfish; although I look happy enough in the photo.

hook baits carp fishing tips


At this point I’d like to throw it out to anyone who is reading this blog and had good results on alternative baits.  There must be some very brave anglers out there who have fished one (or more) of their rods with an unusual hookbait in France.  I know I’ve picked the easy one with sweetcorn, but I’d love to hear some tales of things like cockles clearing up a lake.

Thanks for reading and I hope you all have a prosperous 2014 out on the banks.

Andy Gilbert


One thought on “Alternative Hookbaits

  1. Steve Bedford says:

    Hi Andy,
    Great blog, I’d be interested to see how you get on in France with fake corn. Last time I went to Mas Bas Giles told us not to use particles as we would be plagued by Grass Carp and Bream, although I do know there are lakes out there that respond better to particles than boilies. I’m a fan of cut down boilies topped off with fake corn or where possible tiger nuts (or critically balanced tiger nuts). Hope your trip goes well.

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