Having been amazed at how quickly the carp world homed in on, but just as quickly forgot, bread bags after Lee Jackson’s string of catches that resulted in Conningbrook’s Two Tone at a then record weight, I first started messing with bread bags several seasons back and detailed them in Angler’s Mail magazine.
Far from being a minor diversion or passing fad, bread bags have become a standard tactic for me on all manner of waters and they continue to catch carp, big and small, from ticket waters like Linear to venues like Old Bury Hill’s Temple – which produced this lovely 30-plus common during a recent overnighter over a bucket full of Mother’s Pride.
I’m not the only one who recognises how much bread has to offer… far from it.
Bread is cheap, carp absolutely love it, and how many waters are there today where the fish have never had a piece of bread put in front of them, let alone a bucket of fresh bread crumb?
It’s different enough from the boilie, pop-up and pellet tactics in use everywhere that carp just stick their noses in and hoover it up.
I’ve watched fish time and time again on very heavily fished ticket waters hang themselves within minutes or even seconds on bread bags, where the more usual offerings produce much less reliable action.
For me the basics of bread bag fishing remain the same, although I’ve found a great way to make bread fishing versatile enough to be a winner where you need more bait in front of you than just a bag.
Here’s how to get a slice (groan) of the bread bag action…
1. First job is to get some bread through the food processor. I use bog standard cheap white loaves and haven’t found the need for anything more complicated. Take the end crusts off and then pulse process four or five slices at a time. One loaf blended down is enough for a couple of rods for a day’s fishing – unless you happen to be on a real runs water.
2. The end result should be a bag of fluffy and fine fresh bread crumb. If you haven’t blended it long enough there will be larger bits of outside crust and these float up from the bags – birdlife will be such a pest you’re unlikely to make the same mistake twice. Stick the crumb in a strong food or freezer bag to stop it drying out.
3. Bread on its own is enough to catch plenty but there are some additives you can use that improve pulling power. To each loaf of bread crumb I add a handful of tiny water snails (available on-line from CC Moore) and a good handful of crushed hemp. The snails send carp potty, whether in bread, hemp or spod mix. Inflate the bag, shake around to mix them together and your feed is finished.
4. Fill a large cobweb mesh tube to the top with the bread crumb, then compress with the plunger to create a stick around four inches long. Don’t compress too firmly, you just want it held together in the mesh but still falling apart easily when water gets inside the crumb. You can use smaller sticks or boilie diameter mesh if you are casting long distances, but where possible I like the big bag.
5. Tie a supple braided hook length KD style to a size 10 or 12 short shank curved hook like the Korda Kurvs. Leave the hair around an inch to an inch and a half, and tie a figure of eight loop at the other end so the finished link is five to six inches. Like all bag work you’re encouraging carp to eat on the spot so shorter links are more consistent.
6. Hook bait choices are plentiful but my vote still goes to good old plastic. One grain of glow in the dark corn anchored just a few millimetres off bottom with a number four shot works brilliantly. It resists attention from nuisance fish, doesn’t need changing and is hoovered up just like a big crumb of bread. If you don’t have confidence in unflavoured plastic you could try white pop-ups, peeled tigers or brazil nuts. Lockey’s 6 and 8 mm white everlasting baits are useful too.
7. Push a Thinking Angler’s stick needle through your bread bomb, hook it into the figure of eight loop on the link and draw it back through the bag. Take care when you push the needle through not to poke it straight through the centre so it exits by the knot of PVA. When the link is drawn back and the hook pulled into the mesh it should sit at the edge of the bag to prevent any chance of the hook being masked by the blob of PVA residue.
8. Thread an ESP rig sleeve on to the link and your bag and hook length are now ready to be attached. I use a running lead, knot protector bead and Fox Kwik Change Flexi Ring Swivel which allows fresh links and bags to be slipped on in seconds. Avoid helicopter rigs, the weight of the bag will shift your stop beads several feet up a leader. Some lead clip systems will also jettison the lead because of the splosh of the bag – wherever practical use a running lead.
9. Bread bags work brilliantly on their own but something I’ve added to the bread fishing armoury in the last few months is CC Moore’s dried bread flake. It is exactly what is says on the bag, and being a dry feed adds enormous versatility when you want or need to feed heavily where there are numbers of fish to go at. Even better, being a dry feed you can mix it up as you need it rather than go to the time and trouble of blending loaf after loaf before finding conditions or angler pressure means you waste it.
10. Put the dried bread in a round groundbait bowl, the collapsible Method style bowls are perfect. Gently scoop a handful or two of lake water into the bowl and work it around vigorously with the crumb. It doesn’t need much water so go easy. Once the crumbs start to feel damp and show signs of wanting to stick together when squeezed leave it for a few minutes. It will carry on absorbing water slowly and when you return to it will normally ball up nicely.
11. Adding some fresh liquidised bread improves the cloud and spread of particles from the finished groundbait. I also add in a handful of snails and crushed hemp to match the bread being used in the bags. The finished groundbait should squeeze easily into spongy balls. Make sure you keep the lid zipped shut to stop it drying out during your session, dampening again with a splash of lake water if required.
12. With a decent groundbait catty or sling shot on a spare rod these balls can be fed easily and quickly to build a baited area. Although I’ve not used a sling shot on a spare rod I am confident they could be fed at 100 yards or more. Get the bread balls right and they either explode on impact with the water, showering bread around the rig or break up on the way down through the water, keeping carp grubbing for long periods. Different and brilliant!
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