Bread is one of the best winter baits for carp. Its complex structure of means that it is light in water, making it easy for carp to pick up, and big baits can be used as it has very little substance. Bread lends itself to a whole host of tactics, so why not give it a go?
Follow these six simple and easy steps to be able to create the perfect rolled bread hookbait.
If the bites dry up on bread, try adding a couple of maggots to the hook. ‘Bread with legs’ is a classic cocktail bait at any time of the year, and one that can see you catching a wider range of species than bread alone.
The carp’s love of bread has been well documented and the gurgle of a gluttonous carp slurping down a hunk of floating crust is one of the sounds of summer.
But there’s always been a flaw with bread crust, flake or punch – most other species love the white stuff, too.
Small rudd, roach and bream love pecking at mushy bread and in lots of fisheries hoardes of silverfish can whittle away a hookbait in minutes, leaving the angler with an unbaited hook.
The soft texture of bread also means it’s prone to flying off the hook when a float, feeder or leger is cast out. Even if the bread stays on the hook during the cast it’s easily torn off the rig when it hits the water.
Indeed, it’s the fear of sitting behind an unbaited rig that has convinced many anglers to dismiss bread as a hookbait.
Well here we meet a man who has created such a brilliant bread method that he’s even banned it at his own fishery!
Meet the bread man
John Bennett is the 60-year-old owner of the well-known Rolfs Lake fishery near Wheatley in Oxfordshire and the man who has taken the art of bread fishing into new territory.
A regular fisherman at the 40-peg venue prior to taking control of the pool in December 2007, John knew that bread remains a great bait for carp and he also recognised the fish in his own lake loved it.
Although floating baits are banned at Rolfs those who did persevere with sinking bread punch or flake bagged tremendous catches.
Furthermore, if John tossed a bit of bread on to the water when the lake was closed or free of anglers, the fish went crazy for it and instantly slurped in down.
But, as every angler who’s fished with bread for any length of time realises, the fact that it gets blitzed by small fish and doesn’t stay on the hook very well made it difficult to efficiently fish with.
“Like many modern lakes Rolfs is not a ‘carp only’ fishery. There are masses of silverfish and they often pounce on normal bread hookbaits as soon as they hit the water,” John explained.
“You get loads of tiny taps on the quivertip as roach whittle away the bait, or your float dips and bobs as they nick the bait.
“It’s a nightmare, even though the carp love bread I often couldn’t keep a bait in the water long enough for the big fish to find it!”
Putting his grey matter to work the Swindon angler began developing a new presentation for bread that would make it impervious to small fish yet maintain its attraction to carp.
His idea was to somehow compress the bait to make it firm enough to resist small fish and being ‘cast off’ the rig. After much experimentation the ‘Mushroom’ was born.
Made with a Seymo Lunch Punch bait punching tool he created a hookbait with a tough ‘stalk’ of compressed flake topped with a ‘cap’ of softer bread (see sequence).
This Mushroom is tough enough to withstand the attentions of small fish and the force of casting but it still retained a soft enough cap to be tempting to fish that love the soggy texture of waterlogged bread.
“The Mushroom solves all the problems of bread fishing,” said John. “The punched stalk is amazingly tough, it means you can cast the bait as far as you want and small fish can’t whip it off the rig.
“However, the cap is a little thinner and less compacted than the stalk so it softens a little and swells up as water soaks into it.
“This gives little fish something to nibble at which I think actually advertises the bait to larger carp swimming nearby. I often get little taps on the quivertip as silverfish nibble at the bread until a carp comes in and sucks up the whole bait.
“You certainly know about it when a carp’s grabbed the bait – nine times out of 10 the rod whips round and you’ve got to grab it before it goes swimming!”
Showing how to punch out the mushroom-shaped nugget of bread, John threaded it on to a hair-rigged leger and blasted the rig right across the pool to the far bank margins where the branches of a stumpy tree trailed in the water.
The tough stalk of the bait prevented the monofilament hair rig cheese-wiring the bread on the cast while the ‘drag’ of the bait as it flew through the air ensured the leger and hookbait remained separated and didn’t tangle.
When the rig hit the water two distinct splashes could clearly be seen as the leger, then the hookbait, landed.
The Mushroom had ticked another box in the ‘advantages’ table – its shape, size and weight means it’s a great anti-tangle set-up.
Settling down to watch, his gently curved quivertip John explained how he expected line bites and taps on the quiver to register first.
Even though a deluge of rain had pushed up the water level of the stream-fed lake by four inches in the previous 36 hours, he was still hopeful the longer daylight hours would stir the carp from their winter slumbers.
Sure enough, five minutes after casting a couple of slow two-inch pulls on the tip indicated fish had brushed against the line.
A few minutes later a series of taps indicated small fish had found the bait and were trying to nibble away tiny sections from the swollen cap of bread.
Then it happened. Without any warning the top half of the rod wanged round and John grabbed the reel seat before it headed lakewards.
There was no need to strike, the fish had taken the bread so positively it had hooked itself, John picked up the bent rod and tightened the line into the fish.
After a five minute battle that saw the lethargic carp plod up and down the margins of the lake as if it was waking up and didn’t quite know what was going on, he guided a gorgeous heavily-scaled mirror carp into his net.
Weighing 11lb-12lb the fish was in prime condition and as he reached into the net to unhook it John pointed out the bread Mushroom which was still on the hair rig.
“The stalk of compacted bread is so tough that the bait is usually still on the hair when you land a fish,” he said.
“When they’re really having it I’ve often caught two or even three fish on the same hookbait. I unhook the carp and chuck out the same Mushroom again!
“I can’t think of any other bread hookbait that stays on the rig so well that you can recast it.
“Which bread you use isn’t vital but ‘budget’ loaves are usually best as they have a doughy, sticky consistency. When you use the Lunch Punch on them they compress better to form a harder ‘stalk’.
“To be honest, the Mushroom is so effective and it was dominating the fishing so much on here that I decided to ban it. There’s lots of carp in here and nobody was using any loosefeed because they were just using a few slices of bread. The fish weren’t getting enough food!
“It is a brilliant method though and in lots of lakes it’ll be a great way to avoid the silverfish and pick out the carp.”
Easy to learn
“Bread… who the hell still uses that?” is the reaction you will get from most anglers these days. But bread is STILL is one of the best angling baits that you can use.
These days it’s sadly relegated to the back of the bait tray, branded by many anglers as old fashioned and just plain boring.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Bread will catch virtually every species of fish that swims, whether they have been heavily fished for or not.
From the smallest roach to the biggest carp, they all have a fatal attraction to it.
In order to put bread firmly back on the angling bait map, we met up with Maver sponsored angler, Andy Kinder.
Not just a superb individual angler, Andy is also a regular team member with the prolific match-fishing team, Barnsley Blacks. An accolade not to be taken lightly!
We joined Andy for a pleasure session where he planned to show us a few tips and tricks when feeder fishing bread for commercial carp…
Every five minutes saw another bread-filled feeder clattering into the water with pinpoint accuracy, two rod lengths away from an island in Andy’s swim. The spot was preordained because as Andy was setting up, a large carp crashed out of the water in the very area his feeder now kept hitting.
It would only be a matter of time. After sinking the line and winding the reel very slowly to put a slight bend in his quivertip, Andy sat back and waited.
The first signs of fish were a couple of trembles on the rod, moments later it sprung round and Andy struck.
The water temperature was still very low so the carp put up much less resistance than it would in summer.
The fight was one-way, ending in the soft mesh of Andy’s landing net a couple of
minutes later. The result was a fine-looking mirror carp of around 3lb. Hopefully, it was the first of many.
WHY USE BREAD FOR TARGETING CARP?
Bread is one of the all time classic baits that will catch nearly every species that swims, although carp have a real love of the stuff. But why is it so good?
There are a number of reasons. Firstly, being bright white, it is an extremely visible bait and something that the carp will home in on very quickly.
Secondly, it is very cheap and readily available in every shop in the land.
Another advantage of the common loaf is its versatility. There are many things you can do with bread.
You can use a punched pellet or large chunk of flake on the hook. It can be liquidised or mashed into a lovely groundbait. Bread can even be coloured, flavoured or fished in conjunction with other baits such as maggot, caster, worm or corn.
These latter bait mixtures are know as cocktail baits and are much loved by carp, tench and bream.
A fourth benefit is it becomes waterlogged and fluffs up, helping to mask the hook as soon as it enters the water.
Andy told us: “My favourite type of bread is the cheap, white long-life variety. Longlife loaves are much stickier and tackier than other breads.
This allows it to hold on to the hook better, particularly when fishing bread flake.”
PREPARING YOUR BREAD
In the warmer months, when you’re looking to catch a big weight on the feeder, you need to prepare a fair amount of liquidised bread to fill your swimfeeder with. Andy thinks nothing of liquidising three or more full loaves for a days fishing. The other little tip that he uses to great effect when targeting carp is to leave the crusts on each slice.
This keeps the bait quite active as some of the particles will sink and some will rise creating a column of bread particles. Not only will this help to pull fish down from the upper layers of the water but it also creates a kind of mini snow dome on the lake bed, with loads of bread fragments colouring the water around your hookbait. When the carp comes into the swim looking for food, the only substantial morsel it will find is your hookbait.
“The other advantage of leaving the crusts in your liquidised crumb is it allows you to experiment with hookbait presentation,” said Andy. “Because there is a column of bread particles rising and falling in the swim, you can try fishing hard on the bottom or pop your bait up in order to see which gains you more bites through the day.
“The most important thing when fishing with bread is to keep the feed going in so that you create an active feed area. By casting every five minutes you generate a cloud of feed for the fish to investigate, with only your hookbait in the middle.”
When it comes to liquidising his bread for the feeder, Andy is a bit of a traditionalist as he only uses plain bread (above).
By blitzing a few slices of bread at a time in a food processor you create a fantastic groundbait made up of millions of tiny bread particles.
The best bread to use is a cheap, white processed loaf. The inherent moisture in this product helps to hold the particles together when squeezed into a ball or a feeder. However, once the ball or the feeder hits the water, the bread will immediately break up, shattering into thousands of tiny bits of bread, laying down a lovely carpet of edible morsels for the fish to pick over.
Alternatively, a pre-prepared, shopbought, coarse white crumb (see page 111) is also available called Punch Crumb.
To boost his Punch Crumb Andy adds a little flavouring, his favourite additive being Van Den Eynde Liquid Super Scopex.
“This is a product that’s been designed as a groundbait additive and not a pure flavour so it’s difficult to add too much,” Andy explained. “To use it with my Punch Crumb, I add the flavour to the mixing water. This enables the finished groundbait to have a more consistent flavouring level than if I added it later.”
The other little tip that Andy employs is to add a little Van Den Eynde Dynamic Feeder groundbait at a ratio of four to one.
“Dynamic Feeder is more of a silverfish additive really,” said Andy. “But when the carp are cruising midwater, the activity of the groundbait can really help to pull the carp into the swim, it’s ideal when I’m fishing with a popped-up bait.”
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HOW ANDY HOOKS HIS PUNCHED BREAD
A lot of anglers avoid using bread on the hook as they think it comes off too easily. Andy gets around this problem by punching out pellets of bread, then hair-rigging them on to the rig.
Andy takes three slices of processed bread and places them on a hard surface. He then uses a Maver ‘Match This’ Bait Punch in order to press out a small barrel of bread. This is then slid on to the hair before casting in.
“The reason I use three slices, rather than just one is that it makes a good-sized pellet, good for attracting the attentions of any passing carp and once the punch takes on water it will expand, masking the hook. This provides me with a better presentation,” Andy explained.
ANDY’S FEEDER RIG
Andy’s rig for the day was set up running style.
The feeder that Andy chose for the day was a medium 20-gram cage feeder, ideal for targeting carp as it provides a reasonable payload without overfeeding the swim. If he gets a lot of bites, Andy will increase the size of his feeder, however, if the fish are hard to come by he will fish with just a leger bomb.
During today’s session, the carp were not ‘having it’. The previous snap of cold weather had really turned the carp off.
After making a few casts at the start of the day, Andy had an early fish. This lulled him into a false sense of security as it was the last bite he had for a couple of hours. By ringing the changes, putting out less bait and popping the hookbait up, Andy again managed to wheedle out another pair of carp.
At the end of a difficult day, Andy’s bread attack had managed to put fish in the net whilst others blanked!
The liquidised bread test: What should happen to your feed...
The punch crumb ball hits the water and floats.
The ball should still float but slowly start to break up.
The ball of punch should now start to sink, very slowly.
The ball continues to break up as it slowly decends.
Most of the ball has broken up, leaving a cloud of bread crumb.
How to create bread punch barrel
1 Place three slices of bread on top of each other, then place them onto a hard surface. Punch out a bread barrel with a Maver Match This Bait punch.
2 Using a fine baiting needle, remove the bread punch barrel from the bait punch and hook the needle over the loop of the rig’s hair.
3 Carefully slide the bread barrel off the needle and onto the hair of the rig. Lock the bread in place with a bait stop.
4 The finished baited rig should look like this, with the bread barrel hanging just below the hook.
Alternative bread-based hookbaits
Crust tends to be used when targeting larger carp. As bread crust is buoyant, the best way to fish with it is either on the surface or when you are looking to fish a popped-up bait. An uncut loaf provides the best crust. In order to prepare the crust for the hook, leave an uncut loaf in a polythene bag for a couple of days. This allows it to sweat producing a tough, rubbery crust that will stay on the hook much longer.
This is one of the most widely used of the bread baits. You can use a sliced loaf for bread flake, but the soft doughy inner of an uncut loaf makes by far the best bread flake. In order to mount bread flake, simply tear off a piece about the size of a fifty pence piece. The bait should be pinched around the shank only, but not compressed too much. In the water you want the flake to swell up and look as natural and as fluffy as possible.
Bread is such a versatile bait that it can be combined with any other hookbait you care to mention. These combinations are called cocktail baits. The combination of the high visibility bread flake combined with the movement or colour contrast of another bait such as a maggot, caster, piece of sweetcorn or a worm is something that carp, bream and tench find simply irresistible.
Fake baits are all very much the vogue these days and have been the downfall of many specimen fish of all species. The great thing about fake bread is it is highly resilient on the hook, it looks very good under water and more importantly, it catches fish! Being made of rubber, it is bouyant and so ideal if you are looking to fish with a popped- up bait, when you are fishing over weed.
Cheap, easy to get hold of and a multitude of uses, bread is one of coarse angling’s most underused baits, but one that has caught some of the biggest fish in history! Here’s the four main uses…
The preserve of the matchman, breadpunch is also effective for specimen roach and chub. Put simply, punch is bread that has been punched into discs of varying sizes using special brass-headed tools.
Once in the water, punch will swell up to twice its size but stay on the hook well thanks to the punching process. Canals, drains and rivers, where roach are the main quarry, respond particularly well to punch, especially in winter and even some commercial carp fisheries have seen decent nets of carp taken on bread.
Take a look at the sequence below to find out how to use punched bread effectively - a great technique to try on canals, slow-flowing rivers and even stillwaters in the winter.
You will need a bread punch. They are available in a multitude of sizes to suit a variety of different sized fish. Whichever punch you choose, remember that the punched bread bait will swell to twice its size once it is submerged.
Quality white bread is best for punched bread fishing. Mother's Pride is one of the most favoured as it is quite a 'duoghy' and sticky bait that hold onto the hook well. Place a slice onto a hard base and press your chosen punch into the bread.
The bread punch will cut out a small pellet of bread. Here it can be seen resting within the sharp brass cuttign section of the bread punch.
Use your hook to remove the pellet of bread. Pass the hook point through the groove in the side of the brass cuttign blade of the bread punch and you will extract the bread pellet. You may need to use your fingers to gently work the pellet right onto the shank of the hook.
The finished punched bread should sit on the hook perfectly central and hang from the hook shank. Once it hits the water it will begin to swell so don't worry that a lot of your hook is showing when you first hook the bread - it will quickly become masked by the swollen bread in the water.
The specimen hunter’s friend, flake is a killer hookbait for almost everything that swims. Sliced bread is okay for flake but better still is a whole loaf, which allows you to tear off any sized chunk you wish. Mould the bread around the shank of a big hook such as a size 8, leaving the rest of the bread to fluff up once in the water.
A great surface bait, crust fished popped up off the bottom at half or three-quarters depth is also a great bait to ambush cruising carp. Rip off a piece of crust and hook normally or via a hair-rig, especially when carp have become wary of more conventional floating baits such as pellets and Chum Mixer biscuits.
Not used that often, paste is a good winter chub and roach bait for legering, especially when used in conjunction with mashed bread feed. To make paste, use old slightly stale bread mixed with a little water and kneaded into a stiff paste.
Can bread be improved?
You can flavour and colour bread using liquid additives but be careful on the amounts, otherwise your slices will be useless! A better bet is a bait spray to lightly coat each slice and popular flavours are Strawberry, Scopex and Cheese for paste. Likewise, bread can be coloured red but one of the main reasons bread is so good is its natural colour – the whiteness stands out well in the water, allowing fish to home in quickly.
What about feeding bread?
There are a couple of ways of feeding bread depending on what you’re fishing for.
Big fish like chub and roach love a bit of mashed bread, which is easily made my mixing stale white bread with water until you have a wet slop with bigger particles of bread within. This can then be fed in small balls in likely looking swims before fishing – great for roving on small rivers.
For smaller species on rivers and canals, try liquidised bread. Pop slices, crust and all, in a blender and whizz until fine crumbs. Feed as small balls, which will break up quickly making it great for shallow water while for feeder fishing, simply cram a cage feeder with the crumbs and fish a piece of flake or large piece of punch on the hook.