Fishing Baits - Bread
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Bread is one of the most useful baits. It's well worth learning how to use it - not just in freshwater, mullet, bass, smelt and several other saltwater fish will take it too.
A very common question is:
How do I keep the bread on my hook?
You don't! If the bread is firm enough still to be on the hook when you retrieve your tackle it is too hard; discard and replace it. One of the advantages of bread is the low level extra groundbait trail that runs from where your baited hook stops. At the end of every trot strike off the bread and you're augmenting your groundbait.
Crust, flake, punch or paste?
Floating crust is covered elsewhere on this site. Ledgered or floatfished crust is used when a little bouyancy in the bait is required. Usually this is because of an uneven bottom or a layer of very soft weed or silt that would bury denser baits. Use a round-bend hook and follow the curve as you push the point in the crust side and leave it so that it rests in the soft crumb.
Flake is a piece of breadcrumb folded around the hookshank and pinched just firmly enough that it grips the shank of the hook. The hookpoint should be in the fluffy, uncompressed edge of the flake so that it is unobstructed. Flake is about right when it sinks, slowly, under the weight of the hook.
Punch is a pellet of compressed bread pressed out of a slice with a tool called, er, a punch. I dislike punch because it's easy to make the pellet too hard and in the sizes generally used it attracts small fish.
Paste is stale breadcrumb kneaded into a soft dough with a little water. I rarely use plain paste, it has no advantage over flake and requires a stock of week-old bread which is farther ahead than I normally plan trips. However it is a wonderful medium for flavours - the simplest and best being strong, blue cheese. Mix stilton scraps into your paste and use it in cocktail-sausage sized lumps on a #2 hook and you have a wonderful chub attractor for winter ledgering.
In ideal conditions a #10 hook is about right. Practically anything that will take bread will take a piece that covers a #10. Sometimes, if roach are a bit finicky I might go down to a #12. Grayling prefer a smaller hook too. There is no upper limit - I have used a #6/0 but that's extreme. #4 is about the biggest for run of the mill use. When Chub are around and when mullet fishing I usually start with a #8.
Many anglers who have never used soft baits are too jerky on the cast: the bread flies off in one direction and the tackle in the other. Cultivate a long, gentle, slowly accelerating swing. 20m is about the limit for ordinary casting with bread. The slow style associated with a centrepin reel is well suited to bread baits.
Unless stated otherwise: Everything in this site refers to fishing in the British Isles and similar northern European waters.