Best Barbel Baits

The Best Barbel Baits - (Complete UK Guide On The Best Baits For Barbel Fishing)

There's nothing to put a bend in your rod like a big and bold barbel.

These golden monsters have some serious pulling power.

Catching a big barbel doesn't need to be a rarity. Provided you pick the right bait, you'll be laughing.

But what are the best barbel baits?

Well, we've given it some thought and assembled a detailed list of 9 really effective baits to try. Check them out…

Best Barbel Fishing Baits

Strapped For Time?

If you haven't got the time to read the full article then you may want to skip straight to our detailed list of the best barbel baits.

Alternatively please read on to see more information on the best barbel baits as well as more detail on what goes into our chosen products.

What Is the Best Bait for Barbel Fishing?

Barbel hunt primarily by using smell, so anything that stinks is in with a chance. Barbel are also partial to baits that release oils and fats into the water.

With both of the above things in mind, we'd say the best bait for barbel is cubes of spam or luncheon meat.

You'll need to cast gently, but provided you can drop your spam in a good spot, it will slowly release oils and a scent into the water that is sure to attract a barbel or two.

What Is the Best Colour Bait for Barbel Fishing?

We are going to go against the grain slightly here, but bear with us…

The best coloured baits to catch barbel tend to be natural in colour. We are talking about nothing too bright and nothing too vivid.

And there are a few good reasons for that.

First, barbel hunt primarily using their excellent sense of smell, backed up a little by feel (that's the reason barbel have a moustache, or barbules if you prefer).

You'll often find barbel in coloured or murky water, which should indicate that colour isn't the highest priority.

Second, yes, you might catch barbel on something brightly coloured. But, if you are fishing in a location with high angling pressure, you'll find your catch rate won't be particularly high with anything too bright.


Barbel are cautious by nature, and generally, they only need to be caught on a colour once before they say 'never again'.

Ok, with all of the above in mind, here's a list of the most effective baits for barbel fishing. They are all super effective and are well known Barbel magnets: -

What Is the Best Bait Flavour for Barbel Fishing?

There is a range of bait flavours that barbel love. For some general guidance, go for something that is particularly strong smelling.

A real favourite is anything fish-based. If you can find a bait with fishmeal included, then this can be utterly devastating.

Other flavours you might want to consider are: -

  • Strong meaty flavours
  • Spicy things (Red Pepperami is a great choice)
  • Cheese (Top tip, strong cheddar works well)
  • Fruit flavours

The Best Barbel Baits

#1. Fishmeal Boilies

The Krill Boilies

Boilies for barbel? You bet! These actually tick a lot of barbels boxes and can be really effective.

Something like Sticky Baits The Krill would work really well.

For a start, they are naturally coloured, putting even the wariest barbel at its ease.

Second, they are pretty easy to hook. Squidgy baits may work well, but they can be a real pain to rig up and cast. Setting up boilies is easy.

Finally, Yup, they absolutely stink. That's a good thing. These boilies release their scent slowly, creating an attractive trail leading all the way to your rig.

Boilies are good for more than just barbel too. Why not take a look at some of our other boilie suggestions for carp?

#2. Spam

best boilie baits

Spam… Shoulder of pork and ham? Nope, that's far too fancy. It actually stands for "special pressed American meat".

Now, you might not think it is so special, but the barbel love it.

The beauty of spam is that it is cheap, easy to store, and you can cut it into different shapes as an additional benefit.

Want a couple of top tips?

Don't go with cubes. Every man and his dog has been doing that since Noah had a rowing boat. And the barbel will have seen it before. Instead, go for a more rustic look.

Our second tip?

If you are struggling with the cast, put a blade of grass or straw between the bend of your hook and your chunk of meat for better security.

Check out this video that offers some tips on how to keep spam or luncheon meat on the hair when fishing for barbel... 

Video on how we would attach spam / luncheon meat to a fishing hook hair

#3. Casters

best barbel baits

If you've got maggots that are a little past their sell-by date, don't despair. Barbel will go crazy for casters.

The good news is that you can freeze them too, meaning barbel fishing whenever you like.

Casters do have a little pong about them, and when pricked with the hook, release a little juice into the water, which barbel seem experts in honing in on.

Bonus tip: When hooking casters in a pair, hook one through the tail the other through the head. This will stop your hook from spinning and twisting your line in the current.

Feed these little and often for the best results, and have a bait box full close at hand. The easiest way to do this? Check out some of these fishing chairs.

#4. Paste

best barbel fishing baits

Want to try something that the barbel hasn't seen before but is super effective?

Give paste a go!

Aside from being super stinky and easy to rig up, it's also super convenient to carry. Pastes such as Sonubaits one to one are a great solution.

Just add water and give it a mix. Need it a bit thicker? Add a little more of the good stuff.

And there's more.

Paste gives you the perfect opportunity to combine baits. Add a few breadcrumbs, a handful of casters, pellets or even some exotic flavouring for maximum effect!

#5. Halibut Pellets

best barbel baits

Something fishy is going on here, and that is a good thing.

Remember how we said fish smells can win the day when it comes to barbel fishing. This is exactly the kind of thing we had in mind.

Marine halibut pellets, in particular, are super effective barbel bait. The smell drives them wild, not to mention that there is a good chance when fishing stocked waters that something similar was used to rear them.

The above pellets are available in various sizes, meaning you can bait your swim with the smaller pellets and leave one huge juicy offering right in the middle… Which also happens to contain your hook.

This bait also works wonders for carp. For more carp baits, swing by this article.

#6. Lob Worms

best barbel baits

There's a reason the stereotypical angler is always depicted as messing around with worms. They really do work!

Lobworms are one of the best barbel baits around.

Do you know what we love? They are absolutely free. You'll notice when handling worms, they have a strong, musty smell. This is exactly what the barbel seem to love too!

Lobworms keep for a good while in fresh soil. Oh, and don't throw away the smaller ones. They are great for mixing with paste to create an all in one (and slightly wriggly) bait.

Checkout this video on hooking lob worms for barbel fishing. Please note we would use smaller hooks than the ones shown in the video. Size 8 would be the largest hook we would use.

Video on how we would attach a lob worm to a hook when barbel fishing

#7. Barbel Bomb Dumbells

Best baits for barbel fishing

You'll need some serious muscle to battle a barbel and what better way to do that than to invest in some dumbells.

No, not the gym kind. We are allergic to sweat, thanks very much.

We are talking about one of the best barbel baits around.

Remember how we said that barbel can be a little wary around things they've seen before?

We challenge you to find any else with a hook bait shaped like a dumbbell.

These little powerhouses are loaded with a special flavour concentrate that is specifically loved by barbel.

Moreover, due to their consistency, they are pretty resilient and won't be picked apart by silver fish on the way down…

#8. Maggots

best fishing baits for barbel

Ah, maggots, the old favourite.

Is there a species that hasn't been caught using them? What we do know is that they are one of the best barbel baits around.

Try varying the colour or for really hard fished waters, go all-natural for devastating results.

Barbel will pick single maggots. But if you are being bothered by smaller species like roach or dace, consider adding three or even four to a hook.

Maggots are such versatile bait. They work particularly well with ground bait stuffed into a feeder. They wriggle out bit by bit, ensuring you have a lovely trail leading up to your rig. For more feeder tips, take a look over here.

#9. Cheese

best barbel fishing baits

The type of cheese is up to you.

But here's our advice.

Go for something strong and smelly. Mild isn't going to cut it. Our particular favourites (speaking about fishing for barbel, not on a ploughman's) include: -

  • Strong and mature cheddar
  • Blue stilton
  • A lump of brie (leave it in the sun to get maximum pong)
  • Gorgonzola

And if you want our secret 'special' weapon for the best cheese to fish for barbel, give spicy Mexicana a try.

This is loaded with chilli oil, which really seems to pique the barbel's interest.

Final Thoughts

Because they love hanging around in the murk, the key to barbel fishing isn't so much the rig but the bait you use.

Everything on our list of the 9 best barbel baits is really effective.

Why not make a selection and see what works for you?

Once you've hooked into one, you are going to need the gear to deal with it.

Take a quick peek at our article on the best barbel rods as well as our guide on some top barbel reels for some advice if you need it.

Thanks for reading.

Tight Lines!

If you need any fishing tackle please consider visiting one of our recommended online fishing tackle shops.

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