Why bait is a great route to profit

Whether man-made or natural, bait is a pre-requisite for catching fish. But the options available are, quite simply, vast… and still growing, as anglers strive for the perfect one.



Working out which baits to use for which species and when – never mind which ones to add to your shelves as a retailer – is a veritable minefield.

Even back in the 1600s, when Izaak Walton wrote The Compleat Angler, there were a wealth of choices. Indeed, he wrote: “as for pastes, there are almost as many sorts as there are medicines for the toothache; but doubtless sweet pastes are best.”

Leaving aside ‘artificial’ baits such as lures or flies – which are still the favourite in some parts of the world – let’s concentrate on actual foodstuffs for fish, which is one of the biggest and most competitive markets in our industry.

From maggots and worms to bread, boilies and the aforementioned pastes to live and dead baits, not to mention groundbait, chum and even additives and attractants, in all sizes and colours of the rainbow, there is something for pretty much every species swimming – and for every angler.

Stocking up

While some baits – bread, corn, meat, prawns and so on – are available from supermarkets and others can be foraged naturally – such as worms, crabs, live prey fish – it is the tackle store where most people head to purchase their chosen bait.

This might be maggots or worms, frozen fish, groundbaits, pellets and the ubiquitous boilies – which are now in use for far more species than just carp – and the latter is available in so many bewildering colours, flavours, sizes and shapes it’s hard to know where to even start.

Indeed, a new boilie or pellet manufacturer or brand seems to spring up in Europe, in particular, every week.

Bait is the ultimate consumable, which is what makes it such a great item to stock. Anglers buy it, pop it on the hook, then throw large quantities into their chosen fishing spot – whether before, during or after their session.

So, provided they catch on it, they are more than likely to keep coming back for more – leaving you with a high turnover product and the task of keeping those shelves full of the latest ’must-have’ products alongside some old faithfuls.

Of course, what you stock will largely depend upon your customer base, where they fish, what type of angling they do and so on. So knowing your local market is crucial. Indeed, you should also keep a check on what baits are catching where so you can advise customers accordingly. Their success will keep them returning and establish you as a nexpert in the field.

Baiting up

If you are planning on selling maggots then you’ll need to understand the process and be prepared for some hard work and early mornings, even if you find a good supplier.

Keeping them fed, alive and in good condition, not to mention riddling off good amounts of casters each day, can be a challenge.

Thankfully, worms and frozen fish baits can be bought in regularly although you will still need refrigerated / freezer units to store them.

So let’s look at a few key manufactured baits.

Groundbait in all its various forms is used mainly as an attractant to entice the fish into your swim where it will then eat the bait that carries your hook.

The most basic form of groundbait is simply crumbed up dry bread but manufacturers nowadays add this to more expensive blended ingredients, using it as a carrier for flavours and additives.

As well as being thrown or ‘balled’ into waters in advance and during fishing, some groundbaits (and crushed pellets) can be moulded around weights for the Method or placed into feeders to be cast to the required spot.

Some makers keep the exact ingredients and blends a closely guarded secret, often adding their own special additives known only to them.

Boilies are, without doubt one of the biggest selling bait lines across the UK and much of mainland Europe.

Once the preserve of carp anglers everywhere, for their ease of use and the variety of flavour and colour – not to mention buoyancy – options, boilies have also been attracting other species; specialist offerings for catfish, barbel and other ’silver‘ fish are also available.

Another bait that has crossed over from carp circles to mainstream fishing is the pellet.

Initially used in aquaculture as a cheap and easy way to feed large quantities of fish in farms, several key manufacturers began offering them to the wider angling brands, who took them and added their own unique twists.

They are so easy to use and can be utilised as both feed (thrown in or wet and moulded around a feeder) and hook bait. Again, the range of flavours, colours, styles and sizes can seem bewildering but it’s wise to have a fair mix of these to appeal to all your customers.

With these and other hard baits such as boilies have come accessories like pellet banders, needles and drills, PVA bags, spods and so much more – another profitable addition to your burgeoning shelves.

In the last few years several companies have also begun making jelly-like pellets, designed to be hooked easily and directly. In smaller sizes, these are finding favour with competition and pleasure anglers alike.

Amazingly, even though the bait brands have spent months and even years refining their products, many anglers like to think they have give themselves an added edge and look to additives and extra flavours to boost their baits even more.

Once again, having a wide range of these – whether as powders, liquids, gels or sprays – on display is a real way to maximise profits. Talk to the sales reps who call on you – they know what works well together and which products have the best margins.

And don‘t just stock the big names that everyone knows. As anglers search for the edge over their pals, they’ll start looking for the smaller, more niche or specialist companies who perhaps do things a little differently or offer specific options.

Talk to your reps, your local fisheries and waters and ask the customers themselves to build a picture of the best and most lucrative way to navigate the minefield of bait.