When fishing, in order to catch a fish you need to use bait for the fish to willingly put the hook into their mouth. With fishing being an ancient tradition, people over time have used multiple variations of fishing bait and there is now a huge selection for anglers to use.
Natural types of fishing bait
There is a large amount of vegetarian fishing bait that a number of herbivorous fish will eat. As such, they are commonly used by freshwater anglers, targeting the many herbivorous and omnivorous fish that reside in most lakes and rivers.
Sweetcorn is a classic bait that almost every angler will have fished with at some point. It works well for many of the common freshwater species such as carp, tench, and roach. Bright and easily attached to a hook or hair, sweetcorn is great fishing bait for beginners. The main downside with sweetcorn is that smaller fish can eat the sweetcorn, stopping you from targeting bigger fish.
Chickpeas are more robust than other baits such as sweetcorn, which means that they can be used without the worry of small nuisance fish eating the bait off the hook or hair. Garden peas work just as well, though they are not as hardy as chickpeas. They provide an alternative to hooking.
Tiger nut is a bait that works well because the nuts are extremely sweet and hard-wearing however a lot of fisheries ban tiger nuts as they are hard for fish to digest and can cause issues for the fish.
Using live bait is a great way to encourage fish to take your bait as the live fishing bait will move around and attract the attention of nearby fish.
Worms are great bait that fish will naturally encounter and work extremely well for some species like tench. Worms can be hard to get, as not all fishing shops sell them, and you have to dig into the soil to catch them.
Maggot is a commonly used bait that works extremely well with plenty of fish, ranging from small species (like roach) to bigger fish (like carp). You can obtain maggots from most fishing shops.
Casters are the later form of maggots, where they are in a cocoon. They are a bit little harder for small fish to eat, so they are more likely to help in catching bigger fish.
Pinkies are the early form of maggots and are much better suited to targeting smaller species. They are much smaller and can help attract the attention of smaller fish that may be put off by bigger baits.
Fish itself can be effective bait for catching predatory species such as pike, as they are as natural as you can get.
Processed meat (such as Spam and sausages) is a common meat-based bait that works well for most fish. It is commonly used for more predatory species like catfish.
Prawns can be used as bait as well, but they are expensive in comparison to other baits. Fish can be used as dead baits to attract predatory species, but they can also be expensive to use.
For almost every type of bait, you can get imitation versions made out of plastic that can be used so that the fish cannot eat the bait off the hook.
These imitation baits will often be available in forms that will be buoyant and float higher, allowing for pop-up rigs where the bait is above the lake bed or riverbed.
Over the years, freshwater anglers started to use pastes made similarly to bread dough using egg, flour and other flavours to attract fish. This paste eventually evolved into 3 main types of fishing bait that are now commonly used. All of these baits usually come in a spherical shape. There is a large variety of flavours and sizes of these baits available, so anglers have a good selection at their arsenal.
Boilies are what is known as bottom bait because they sink and will rest against the bottom of the lake or river. A lot of carp anglers will use boilies as their bait of choice. They are not easily broken down by smaller species, meaning that only a big fish such as carp can take the fishing bait.
Pop-ups are buoyant bait that has the ability to lift the hook and line, allowing the angler to fish at a higher level than when using different fishing bait. When fishing in areas with a lot of weed on the bottom, pop-ups are a good choice to sit above the weed. You can attract fish better this way.
Wafters are the middle ground between boilies and pop-ups, as they are buoyant, but they can only slightly lift the hook. They help create a critically balanced rig, which means the fish is less likely to feel the weight of the rig as they take the bait. This can increase the chance of hooking the fish.