When the chips are down try potatoes for fishing bait

Potato has long been a favourite carp bait. Before the arrival of boilies it was probably the preferred bait of specimen hunters after really big fish.

Wash excess dirt off the skins but don’t peel them. Boil the potatoes until they are soft, but not too soft to stay on the hook. This should take about ten to fifteen minutes.

Some anglers leave the skins on their potatoes, but generally most prefer to fish with them peeled. Tinned new potatoes are already partly cooked, so they need less preparation.

Of course there are times when small new potatoes are not available. If you feel that tinned ones may not work, then use chunks, cubes or slices of larger potatoes.

Carp hunters used to think that other fish couldn’t take them, but anglers found that large bream, chub, roach and tench do take smaller spuds. The strange, but useful, thing is that only the bigger fish seem to show any interest.


Select potatoes of around golf-ball size – usually new season ones – for carp. The most popular method of preparing them is par-boiling.

You might want to experiment to find the bait that suits your local water best.

Other methods

There are a number of other methods of preparing potato. Believe it or not, chips can be a handy chub bait. The more fatty they are, the better. Don’t fry them too much, or they won’t stay on the hook.

Potato balls, made from instant potato mix, can be successful, as can paste made from mashed potatoes and groundbait. Again, mix them so the texture is firm enough to stay on the hook.

Fishing potatoes

Before fishing the potato hookbait, you can feed your swim with a groundbait of mashed or instant potato mixed with scalded bran.

Potatoes are most effective when legered. They are quite heavy, which helps distance casting and may eliminate the need for additional weights in still water – but it means your bait may sink into mud. If this seems to be happening, make a pop-up potato by hollowing one out and filling it with a polystyrene ball.

Take a number of potatoes with you -inevitably you lose some when casting. If you have cooked and peeled them it’s a good idea to keep them in a jar of water to stop them turning brown.

Potato is seen by some anglers as a fad bait. This is partly because it works in cycles. When a swim is first fished with potatoes big fish love them; then they ‘wise up’and it takes a while before potatoes are taken again. Fortunately, by fishing with specially coloured potato, fatty chips or other variations the big fish never go off them completely.