Boilies came to prominence in the 1970's and their main proponent was Fred Wilton and many people attribute him to inventing the modern boilie, however there are documented cases of recipes for boilies being published in German & French angling publications at the beginning of the 20th century! Although relatively new to modern fishing they have been around for a very long time.

Although just a simple paste made from a base mix, boilies get their name due to the boiling process used to create the hardened skin, this tough outer shell allows the bait to remain unmolested from nuisance smaller fish.

Boilies are a bait used extensively for carp fishing, although they do account for other types of coarse fish such as barbel, bream, chub & tench. They are also made in a variety of different flavours, from the exotic sweet and fruity varieties, to the more savoury fishmeal.

Boilie Types

Freezer boilies tend to have more flavour although they do not last as long as shelf life boilies especially if they have been thawed and refrozen numerous times.

Shelf Life boilies have preservatives added to them in order for them to be stored for extended periods. The advantages these boiles give is that they can be resealed after a day fishing and used on the next trip.

Fluorescent boilies can be great to use as they are brightly coloured and can easily stand out from other offerings/ loose feed. If used in connection with a pellet feeder they can be surprisingly effective with smaller carp & bream.

Buoyant boilies are pop ups, these boilies are made in such a way that they float, which is critical if you wish to fish a boilie popped up from the bottom.

Dumbbell boilies are shaped like their name suggests and they offer a different shape than the standard boilie, this means they can provide that little edge on pressurised fish who have become wary of the standard spherical shape. Their shape also means carp will have difficulty ejecting them as quickly as a round bait, which obviously helps to increase hook-ups.

How To Hook

Boilies are not designed to be hook mounted, but to be used in conjunction with a hair which allows the bait to be positioned within a close proximity to the hook - some simple ways of using boilies are shown below

Hair Rig

Snow Man

This is the most commonly used way to mount a boilie on a hair. The boilie is mounted on the hair and held in place with a hair stop.

This rig encompasses a large boilie and a smaller pop up boilie positioned above. This alignment allows the two boilies to cancel out the hook weight and act as naturally as any loose feed - make sure to test this rig in the margin to get the presentation right.

Butterfly Boilie

Pop Up

This technique involves splitting a boilie in half and mounting them on the hair facing opposite directions. Not only does this produce a different shape, it also releases more flavour due to the soft inner being exposed.

This rig allows the boilie to be popped up from the bottom by using a small split shot on the hair to act as a counter balance, it ensures the hook is not raised and exposed -  make sure to test this rig in the margin or water filled bait box to get the presentation right.

Make Your Own Boilies

Making your own boilies is great fun ! Experimenting with different flavours and recipes to create that holy grail of boilies which can empty any water is a quest worth undertaking, but remember, there will be failure on the way!

This is the list of ingredients you will need for a really basic boilie base mix :-

       8oz - 225g Semolina

       4oz - 115g Ground rice

       4oz - 115g Soya Flour

       4 eggs

You will also need your chosen colours & flavours, these can either be purchased from supermarkets or from your local tackle shop. For this simple guide we have used red food colouring, chilli flakes & paprika - Finding your own recipe is part of the fun of boilie making, so expect a fair amount of trial and error in creating a successful boilie.

For this simple base mix all that is needed is Semolina, Ground Rice & Soya Flour - all three can be purchased from a supermarket.

Weigh out the different base mixes and add them together in a bowl, stir with a wooden spoon to mix together.

Now crack 4 eggs into a separate bowl and beat with a fork until frothy - add any wet ingredients or colourings once the eggs are beaten.

Once the colouring and eggs have been mixed, add any dry flavourings you like - in this case chilli flakes and paprika have been added to give the boilies a spicy kick.

Now add the dry base mix a little at a time to the wet mix & stir continuously.

Once the mixture begins to firm up, knead with hands until a soft even textured putty like paste is created.

Roll the paste out into sausages, cut into your desired size with a sharp knife and roll the small segments into boilie shaped balls.

Purchasing a boilie rolling table helps speed up the rolling process and removes the tedious task of hand rolling large numbers of boilies.

Using a pan with a wire basket (a cheap chip pan will do) bring a pan of water to boiling point & place the boilies within a wire basket & place into the water & boil for 90-120 seconds - the longer they are boiled the tougher they become.

Once removed from the hot water, drain off any excess water and allow to stand on a rack for at least an hour. The rack is important as it allows air to circulate around the boilies and dry the entire surface, where as leaving them on a towled surface will create wet points beneath - a baking rack is ideal for this.

Once dry, the boilies can be used straight away or frozen until needed.


  • Carp can become wary of boilies on heavily fished waters, try trimming the edges of a boilie into a different shape as this can help fool pressurised fish

  • Folding paste around the boilie can get you more bites and is particularly effective when targeting barbel

  • Crushed up boiles used in a pva bag/web is a great way of enticing fish to nosey around the free offerings next to your hook bait

  • Dips & glugs are a great way of giving a boilie that little extra kick before casting in, some anglers swear by leaving boilies in glugs for long periods of time to help the boilie take on more flavour