Particle baits, which include practically every seed, bean, pea or nut, can be every bit as successful a carp catcher as the most expensive boilie. What is more, with the vast majority of them, success is much more instant.
Some of the most widely used particles are;
For those that still remain cautious of preparing their own particles they can be purchased ready to use from the likes of Hinders or you can buy Dynamite prepared particles from most good fishing stores.
All of these particle baits have, and still do, catch lots of carp.
There are drawbacks to particles in that none, with the possible exception of tiger nuts, are selective. The more that go in a water, the more other species get turned on to them. In fact other species need only have tuned on to one or two particle baits before they go for any new ones right from the start. With the first ones used however, it is often carp which are the first onto them.
Maple peas, chic peas, black-eyed beans and peanuts are probably the most widely used and overall, successful, of the particle baits. There are few waters where they will not succeed in the first instance.
Tiger nuts are an exceptional carp catching bait. These nuts are very selective because of their hardness - other species find them difficult to digest. You'll still catch the odd bream and tench but not as often as with most of the other particles. They are very hard to break down, and the chances are any thrown in will stay where they are until they are picked up by carp. A lake may respond to them for several seasons, on a kind of on/off basis. On most waters they are not as instant as say sweetcorn, maize, chic peas, black-eyed beans or peanuts, but once fish are on to them, you can expect great sport. In the past tigers have received 'bad press' because there may come a time when, after heavy feeding on these nuts, a lake will go completely dead for weeks on end, when it seems practically impossible to catch on any bait. I've never experienced this myself so I'm not sure how true it is.
Smaller dark seeds, particularly hemp, can be very effective when fished along side other baits. That is to say, they get carp feeding, but catching them can be a devil of a job, even when you fish hemp hook baits. At other times, hemp will provide a feeding response when carp are quite willing to pick up other baits fished over the hemp. Tares and dari seeds are both likely to give similar responses. Consider allowing them to germinate before you cook them. Germination can usually be achieved by first leaving them out in sunlight in a shallow tray, the seeds being covered in water, for a full day. Then bring them slowly to the boil. Twenty minutes simmering and they are ready to use.
Less widely used, but still effective are broad beans, sweet lupins, almonds and hazel nuts. With nuts it can be very hit and miss. Ones that have been in stock a long time will very likely float, so make sure the ones you buy are fresh. Sweet lupins are not commonly used in the UK but vast numbers of carp have been caught on them, particularly on the continent, where some anglers regard them as the particle supreme.
The most used and universally regarded particle bait would have to be sweetcorn, but there are plenty of others found in tins on the supermarket shelf which can score heavily. Baked beans and red kidney beans to mention a couple.
Always buy good quality particles from a reputable supplier. Some particles, notably peanuts, can be potentially lethal to the fish in certain states. Look for 'human grade' particles and you'll be OK.
If you're not using the particles straight away they can be frozen at this stage. However, with tigers I like to leave them for 2 to 3 days until they start to ferment. The time depends on air temperature but you'll know when they've 'turned' because the water will go sticky, like syrup. I find them to be at their most effective at this stage.
You should add flavourings at the soaking stage so that they are drawn into the bait, after that boil the particles up in the same water they they have been soaking in.... a tea spoon or two of salt per kilo is good, 20mils of CSL or/and molasses per kilo is also good, you will need to play with the amounts of other flavorings for yourself but the amounts added when making boilies is a good starting place.
I regard boilie and particle fishing the same - I use the same methods and rigs for both. Particles, just like boilies, are particularly effective as a hook bait when popped off the bottom. To do this you can use a buoyancy aid such as a cork or rig foam, tied just above the particle on a hair, or the centre of the particle itself can be ground out and plugged with one of the said buoyant substances.
Apart from the lack of selectivity, the only other drawback is the lack of distance such baits can be catapulted.
Some of the best baiting methods for particles are spod's, pva bags or stringers though some degree of drying is needed for the last two or soaking in salty water, don't forget that great carp sport can be had in the margins right under your feet at times!
A particularly inventive approach is to make up a standard hook link with bait, then drop this into an ice-lolly former. The rest of the cone is then filled with particles and flavour and the whole lot frozen. The frozen cones can be cast as far as most boilies!
Particles are tremendous baits, and can be fished in most situations, when you put your mind to it.