Corn vs maggots - best winter baits tested head-to-head!

Winter can be a slow and difficult time of the year when it comes to carp fishing. As the temperature drops however, two baits seem to come into their own - corn and maggots.

So with two young Carp Academy graduates, Daniel Cattrall and Tyler O'Flynn, raring to head out on the bank, we set the pair a challenge: to use either corn or maggots, and go head-to-head to find out which one should be in your bait bucket this winter.

Daniel Cattrall decided to take the golden grain approach whilst Tyler O'Flynn went for the lively maggots. Lets see how the battle of the winter baits played out!

“The combination of size, colour, taste and ease of consumption are all reasons why I chose to use sweetcorn. I felt that the bright yellow would attract the carp in instantly and would get me a quick bite but the ease of digestibility meant that they would keep coming back into the area for more,” explained Daniel Cattrall, who attended Carp Academy in 2015.

Meanwhile, Tyler O’Flynn opted for the wrigglers: “I chose to use maggots in our head to head because in my opinion, they are the better cold-water bait from the two options. At this time of year, the temperature drops and the carp are not as active. I have found in the past that using a lively bait that is continuously moving and something that is highly visual seems to get the carp feeding and a bit more active.”

“After speaking to a few anglers, they thought the bream would pester me and to just use boilies. I was beginning to think that no one has really tried using maggot and it was going to be even more of a challenge for me to catch a carp.”

Going over his rigs, Dan explains: “When using corn, I keep my rigs very simple, like I do with all my fishing, using the ever reliable blowback rig with Dark Matter braid in 15lb at a length of around 5 inches. As we were casting to the far bank lined with reeds and trees, I wanted to make sure that my rig would sit flat to the lake bed laying over any fallen debris and the subtle braid with tungsten impregnated within would allow me to do this.”

“Onto the business end, I had a small length of gravel Shrink Tubing just to help turn the hook over onto the carp’s bottom lip with the strength and sharpness of a sizsize 8 Kaptor Wide Gape and a small Rig Ring to do the rest of the work. My rig was attached to a Hybrid lead clip with 10 inches of gravel Dark Matter Tungsten Tubing to pin the rest of my mainline down. For the hook bait, I chose to use the IB slow sinking maize and the IB slow sinking Dumbbells from the fake food range. The plastic hook baits waft down ever so slowly meaning if a carp were to suck it up, my rig would fly deep into the back of the mouth resulting in a better hook hold. Before I set the traps though, I smothered the plastic hook baits in the Corn Twist Goo to add that visual aspect and all those attractants."

Over to Tyler and his rig: "The rig that I use when fishing maggots is one that was shown to me by Dave Levy when he took me out winter fishing on a Essex day ticket water. I start off by cutting six inches of 18lb Supernatural hook link and tie a size 14 LWG Guru hook which will be used to hook the maggots on. I then grab a piece of pop-up plastic corn and thread it up the hook link and pull the hook into it. After, I attach a small rig ring. This will give that extra bit of movement that will help hook the fish. I now tie on a size 8 Wide Gape, the rig is nearly complete. I then strip off 10 inches of 15lb IQ2 and tie it to the supernatural using a back to back grinner knot creating a combi rig. This gives a stiff boom to the rig but the IQ is near invisible underwater so help keep the rig concealment to an optimum. I finish of by steaming a small piece of shrink tubing to help the hook turn over and then add some Dark Matter putty to cover the combi knot."

With the rigs in place and time to apply some bait, Dan says: "If I was fishing open water to an underwater feature such as a gravel bar, I would Spomb sweetcorn - however in this instance, spombing was not necessary. Because our spots were on the far bank, it was easier to walk around and throw bait in over the top. Spombing could cause a bit of disturbance with the risk of pushing carp out of the area where as throwing bait in by hand meant we could be a lot more accurate and make minimum noise. I threw in a few handfuls of sweetcorn and then a few handfuls of liquidised corn on each spot and Tyler baited up exactly the same, walking around to the far bank and throwing in a few handfuls of maggots over his spots."

With all the rods in place and baited, it wasn't long before the lads had some action with the maggots landing two lovely Churchgate carp for Tyler in quick succession. The rig worked an absolute treat with both fish being nailed in the bottom lip. Before casting, Tyler attaches a small PVA mesh bag of maggot to keep the bait going in. The corn hadn't kicked in yet with Daniel not having any action but Tyler soon lands his third and fourth of the session, this time two plump mirrors.

The lake switches off for an hour or two and after a few recasts to introduce some fresh lively bait, Tyler is soon catching again, landing the biggest of the session, a mid double common. The maggots are well in the lead at this point. The small mesh bags kept drawing the carp to his hook bait.

Eventually, Dan gets in on the action and lands one on the corn. A small common takes his Goo'd up hook bait and Dan is on the scoresheet but by then it was too late and the maggots had won 5-1. Throughout the session, Dan had tried to get something going by using some PVA sticks and recasting but could only manage the one. The light starts to fall and the darkness sets in, signalling the end of their session.

Churchgate Lakes is a great day ticket complex with four lakes on the site catering for anglers of all levels and abilities. With carp up to 30lb, it's certainly worth a visit. For more information on Churchgate Lakes, contact 01245 325289.