Fishing With Garlic, An Underrated & Cheap Bait Attractant

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Anglers are always searching for bait to catch more fish; some baits are less traditional than using maggots, corn, or worms. Many lakes and rivers are fished heavily, and fish become smarter over time. 

As anglers, we need to find different and unique baits that can stand out and get the edge and advantage over the standard baits everyone uses.

So continuing in our series of articles on unusual additives to baits, such as fishing with spices, let us take an in-depth review of fishing with garlic.

Fishing With Garlic

Minced garlic
Minced garlic is one form of using garlic for fishing

Garlic is another excellent way of attracting fish; adding it in various forms to your hookbait or feed can be a game changer.

Anglers in the UK have used garlic for many years, and are extremely popular amongst coarse anglers, especially when carp fishing. It is especially productive in the USA for catching species like catfish, bass, crappies, and trout. Many other fish are attracted to it as they can’t help but inspect that strong smell. 

How To Use Garlic When Fishing?

The most prolific way to use garlic when fishing is in oil or puree form. This is because it mixes better with your hookbaits or when added to your feed, such as groundbait or dough balls.

These are the most effective way to use garlic in your fishing bait:

  • Garlic oil
  • Garlic puree 
  • Garlic mashed 
  • Garlic powder
  • Garlic finely chopped 
  • Garlic juice 

Garlic, unlike using chilli for fishing, comes in a few forms other than just powder. You can, of course, buy powder form and add it to your dough balls or ground baits as you would with turmeric or chilli powder, but using a fresh version is more effective. 

You should use around two bulbs of garlic per 1 kg of groundbait or dough balls (don’t overdo it! – you need to get the balance right, too much will turn the fish away), and you can choose to mash it up finely or blend it down into a liquid paste. This method ensures all the juices and odours come out and are much stronger than the powder version. 

If you are adding it to hookbaits, soaking your bait, such as pellets, in garlic paste is a good idea, but I would also suggest adding some freshly mashed garlic to the mix right before you use it, as it smells its strongest when it is first cut open. 

If you plan to use it in an oil form, you can add it when you get to your fishing spot; oil tends to penetrate easily. Adding anise or garlic oil is the perfect way of preparing your pellets or boilies just before using them, giving off an immediate aroma.

I find adding powder is not a cost-effective option, but it works well if you add the powder to luncheon meat or spam the night before you go fishing.

What Fish Are Attracted To Garlic?

Many fish love garlic. In the United States, bass, crappie, carp, and catfish are known to love baits doused with garlic oils or scented with garlic, such as worms and dough balls. Many ready-made artificial baits can be purchased with garlic added to them as an attractor.

In the UK, fish such as carp, barbel, tench, and catfish are the most common species that are attracted to garlic. It is effective as an additive to hook baits such as sweetcorn or boilies and is also often included in commercial groundbaits, spod mixes, and feeder pellets.

Garlic as Catfish Bait

Catfish are probably one of the fish species that will be attracted to all smelly baits. Traditionally, chicken livers are the go-to for catfish bait. Since we know catfish are present in dark and poor visibility rivers and lakes, they hunt for their food using their senses of feel and smell to locate food. Strong flavours such as garlic, added in any form to your hookbaits, such as chicken livers, worms, and your favourite stink bait, will always attract catfish.

Whether you are targeting channel catfish, blue catfish, or the European or Wells catfish, adding it to your current bait will have a positive result.

In powder form, it can be added to meat baits such as those supermarket baits such as hotdogs, and luncheon meat is a proven option for catfish.

Do Bass Like Garlic?

Bass will eat and bite at anything, including lures, flies, worms, artificial baits, and natural baits like frogs or mice; they really are not that fussy! 

Being a predator, they have a keen sense of smell. Bass use their sight, hearing, and smell to find prey. Bass can be picky, and over time they get used to anglers’ traditional baits, but where garlic gives an advantage is to shield off any concerns and worries they may have due to its masking properties.

Most of the finicky bass have fewer concerns about the bait presentation when using garlic, and they hit the bait harder. Setting the hook is much easier as they go for the infused bait without worry and hold onto the bait longer.

Do Carp Like Garlic?

To a beginner, it is not known that garlic is widely used for carp fishing. Its strong and distinctive smell and taste attract carp from far away.

This garlic flavour is best added to boilies, both commercially available and in homemade versions. Anglers use it year-round because it is relatively cheap, effective, and easy to use. 

It makes one of the best carp baits for boilies and other attractive ingredients.

Carp like smelly baits during summer, so it’s a great option during the warmer seasons. However, combined with sweet ingredients during the winter, it can give you the edge over traditional offerings.

Garlic contains sulfide molecules which release very easily in water. This aroma travels long distances underwater, significantly further than natural food, even when using glugs on boilies.

Because it’s not seen as a threat or suspicious, the carp’s reaction is to go and investigate. When the carp sense the aroma, it will trigger a response to eating the bait. 

Do Barbel And Chub Like Garlic?

Barbel and chub love meat. Soaking luncheon meat in garlic oil makes the perfect bait for catching barbel and chub.

Another option when fishing rivers, either in summer or in the winter, is to add garlic powder to the cubed meat and allow it to coat the outside for as long as possible. I have often added the powder to cheese cubes to give it that extra attraction when the chub and barbel don’t seem to be in a biting mood.

Try to add the powder the night before to give it a more lasting impact and smell.

Do Trout Like Garlic?

From my experience, garlic flavouring can work well for stocked or farm-raised trout. Wild trout do not seem to react as well to it as stockies. I find trout to prefer the bait with a garlic scent. Alternatively, adding a pinch of garlic powder to dough balls, salmon eggs, and worms is very effective.

There are many garlic-scented artificial trout baits; Berkely Powerbait is well-known and successful in catching stocked trout. However, once fish are released into rivers and lakes, their behaviour changes, and they become a little more difficult to catch due to the vast amount of natural insects and other foods available to them.

How To Make Garlic Flavored Baits

finely chopped garlic
Ensure the garlic is chopped up super fine. If possible, use the liquidizer and keep the garlic juice!

The easiest and most effective way of adding garlic to most baits is to place your bait in a zip-lock bag, add garlic in the form of your choice, and marinate it. Not only does this infuse better it also keeps it ready until you want to use it. To increase the potency, I always add anise oil to increase the amount of juice that covers the baits.

Softer baits such as hotdogs, chicken livers, worms, corn, etc. absorb the flavour of the garlic, but other harder baits such as fishing pellets, boilies, and lures placed in the bag for 8 hours will result in a bait with an odour which is very noticeable.

Bulbs are very affordable, and every grocery store stocks them. You can learn more about a full range of other grocery store fishing baits and how to use them for fishing.

Garlic Flavoured Baits

With an abundance of garlic-based baits, anglers are spoilt for choice. Let us take a look at the main options available for fishermen to target most fishing scenarios.   

Garlic Flavored Boilies

The most convenient way of using garlic boilies for fishing for any species, such as carp, is to buy ready-made boilies. Alternatively, some carp anglers will add garlic to their boilie recipes. 

The essential ingredients are the same as most boilie mixes:

  • Ten eggs
  • Base mix (350gms each of Soya flour, Semolina, and Maize meal)
  • Liquid additives of your choice
  • Garlic powder or garlic puree 

To ensure that the bait has some noticeable flavour in the mix, any other ingredients should not be overpowering. However, I tend to add belachan in my mixes with garlic, as this has always caught fish in my experience, especially during winter months.

Most boilies have a variety of flavours and not just a single element of garlic. 50 to 100 grams maximum will be enough for 1kg of base mix, roughly 10%. Likewise, your liquid additives should also be around the 10% quantity (approximately 100ml)

Using boilies as part of your fishing bait, especially for carp, can be one of the most productive baits. Adding a garlic additive is one of many options available. Boilies are almost always used as bait fished on or off the bottom.

Garlic Infused Bread

Every fish will eat bread, especially carp. Adding a few drops of garlic oil to bread, doughballs, bread paste, or groundbait can really attract the fish much quicker to your bait.

Since bread soaks up the flavours much better than other baits, by adding this into the water column, the garlic really creates an awesome attractant. 

For groundbait and dough balls, add a few drops of oil to your dry mixture before adding the water, then add water and mix the two together thoroughly. 

Garlic Sweetcorn

Corn is one of the cheapest carp baits and can be highly effective.

To create the garlic-infused corn, add the garlic to the can, and leave overnight (or longer). The juice in the can will help diffuse the garlic flavour into the sweetcorn.

The great thing about adding it to corn is using different options such as mashed, powdered, crushed, minced, etc. I find the mashed-up version (with all the garlic juice) works best to get the flavour into the corn better.

If you like fishing with sweetcorn, give this a try. It’s easy to prepare and can produce great results, especially in summer.

Garlic Plastic Baits

All plastic baits can be covered in garlic to entice fish to bite better. Since they do not absorb the flavour as well as soft food baits, I find the best way is to put the plastic baits, such as worms, into a zip-lock bag. Add the oil and garlic puree, then rub the worms, frogs, etc. This will fully coat the outside surface of the plastic.

Leaving the bait in the bag for several hours will ensure better coverage.

Garlic Lures

To get your lures with a garlic scent, it’s super easy. Just follow the same process as with the plastic baits, placing them in a plastic bag with garlic and oil. Make sure you take extra care of any treble hooks attached to the lures, which could injure your hands and fingers – if possible, remove the hooks before placing the lures in the bag. 

garlic infused oil
Garlic-infused oil added to your lures and plastic fishing baits works the best overnight

Fishing With Garlic FAQ

What Is The Best Season To Use Garlic?

Garlic is always best used in summer for all types of fishing. When the water is warmer, carp, catfish, and trout will always be more attracted to garlic. The warmer water also helps diffuse the garlic flavours better through the water column.

All fish are more active during the spring and summer months, especially after spawning. They will go out searching for food far more than in winter.

Can I Use Garlic Whole For Fishing?

Peeled garlic segments are not practical for fishing on the hook. Whilst there is some aroma from a piece of garlic, it does not diffuse as well as other forms and should be avoided being used directly on the hook. 

Remember, the main purpose of using garlic is to attract fish in the surrounding vicinity, which is best achieved by garlic scent by breaking the garlic into a more juicy form.

Which Species of Catfish Eat Garlic Flavored Bait?

The three major catfish species in North America are the flathead, blue, and channel catfish. In Europe, the Wells catfish is a prime target for anglers. All garlic flavouring will work on all species of catfish. 

If you are fishing with garlic for catfish, try to start by fishing where catfish are more abundant. Aim for the channel catfish species, as they seem more attracted to the flavour, and then move on to blue catfish. You will need to first experiment by adding garlic to your favourite baits, and once you start catching fish and gain confidence, you will understand what works best.

Catfish love stinky baits, so adding garlic as an attractant will work best on meaty baits and chicken livers.

Final Thoughts

Garlic is a very effective bait for catching most species of fish. It will always work with bread and soft baits, but it is also very productive when used with artificial fishing baits and lures because of its strong scent.

Being affordable and easy to prepare makes garlic a great fishing bait option.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article. With so many kinds of fishing baits available, choosing the right one for the species and conditions is probably the most important part of fishing.

Steve Fitzjohn