Using bread in a rod and line situation for fishing at long distance, catching big fish on single hook baits and a truly deadly method feeder approach that I’ve kept under my hat until now! It has been absolutely bitter on the bank in recent weeks so I had my work cut out to put some fish on the bank – but I needn’t have worried! Bread has got to be the best bait by a country mile on commercial waters when the weather is conspiring against you with hard frosts and near freezing lakes, its soft, light, visual and fluffy nature makes it the number one bait for carp that often shun harder hook baits in the leanest times.
The most common approach for winter commercial venues is the straight lead, this is a fantastic way of searching out little groups of carp that won’t venture far in the coldest of conditions and once you find them sport can be steady and massively enjoyable. The nature of the bomb means that you’re able to fish lots of areas of your swim without running the risk of spreading bait all over the place which in a cold water situation can be angling suicide! As you’re fishing with a single hook bait trying to nick a bite from one fish at a time bread is a fantastic bait to use, it’s buoyant so it can be popped up to any depth, it’s massively visual and extremely soft which in cold water is a massive advantage, I’m a great believer that fish shy away from hard baits in cold water and offering an extremely soft bait will get more bites.
Fishing the bomb with bread is far from complicated but there are a few key points that need looking at to get the most from it. The first is the set up itself, the rod and reel set up is my usual Commercial venue fare and includes a MAP Parabolix 10ft Bomb Rod with a light 1/2oz tip fitted, this is important during the winter as you want a very soft rod to avoid any hook pulls on valuable winter carp. The reel is a nice small MAP P3000 loaded with 6lb MAP Optimum Reel Line, again this is reliable line that I can cast to any distance but safe in the knowledge that I’m able to land any fish I’m likely to encounter. The rig is a simple free running rig, with a snap link swivel attaching my lead for easy changing should I need to go further, or similarly change to a lighter lead this goes down to a little quick change hook length bead which also acts as a buffer. The hook length itself is 12 inches of 0.16mm MAP Power Optex down to a size 12 hook, the hook is seemingly quite big for winter fishing but with bread being a bait that swells in the water a larger hook improves the hooking potential of the rig and again generally eradicates hook pulls, being such a large, soft bait the fish really do take it with gusto so small hooks are not needed.
The single most important thing to factor into your hook lengths though is the length of your hair as I’ve eluded to already bread is a very buoyant bait that expands in the water, and so, the short hairs you’re more used to using when fishing with pellets will be no good at all. This time it is necessary to go longer and I use a hair of around an inch between my bait and the bend of the hook, once baited up with three bread discs it looks a little silly and you wonder how you’re ever going to hook a fish but drop it into a bucket of water for a few minutes and you’ll soon see the benefits of doing this. Something else that anglers struggle with when fishing bread is the worry that it’s come off of the hook when fishing, and there is no worse demon to have on the bank as you’ll often want to leave the rig in the water for long periods on the hardest days. If you need to get that confidence again – bait a rig and chuck it in a bucket of water your worries will all be gone in an instant and see that bread will stay on the rig for absolutely ages and will only come off on the retrieve. The straight lead with bread is a fantastic method that really excels in open water situations, but can be equally good fished up to islands too.
Time for something a bit more unconventional now, and involves the deadly method feeder approach. This is something that came to the fore for me after I had success fishing bread over pellets on the pole and I felt that the combo was spot on for cold water carp that wish to visit little bits of bait but might not necessarily want to eat much and so a soft bread hook bait was readily accepted. I just had to try it on the method feeder, and I soon realised I was onto something a little bit special as I could take the same method and fish it at any range with the same unprecedented accuracy.
My rod and reel choice is identical to the straight lead, and again 6lb Optimum reel line. The method feeders themselves are a bit different this time though, and I choose a small MAP Frameless method feeder, these are fantastic for winter styles as the design sees an amount of the bait sat encapsulated inside the feeder with a small amount placed on top for a quick release of bait, almost the best of both worlds between a pellet feeder and a method feeder. My hook length is a standard 4 inch hook length of 0.18mm MAP Power Optex – I go slightly heavier on the method as the hook length is shorter and takes more stick than on the bomb rod – to a size 14 hook and a half inch hair which will take two discs of bread. Pellet wise it’s my ever faithful 2mm Bait-Tech Carp and Coarse Pellets that I use to load my feeder up, but how you load the feeder when fishing bread is all important. Using the mould I simply half fill the mould and press this onto my feeder, I then add a tiny pinch more of pellets into the mould and place my bread hook bait facing downwards (Hair stop at the bottom) flatly on top of the pellets and press this onto my feeder. By having the hook bait flat there is zero chance of smashing it off the hair when loading it onto the feeder, ensuring your hook bait is the optimum position for a quick bite and release from the feeder. For the feature I fished the method feeder up to an island but it can be equally as good in open water on big waters where a little bait is required to attract the fish’s attention.
Bait prep is again something that is important when fishing these methods and I have a little trick that I have kept quiet for a long while and I’m convinced it’s got me a load more bites over the years. As standard I remove all the crusts from the bread and pop them into a bag – a great hook bait on the straight bomb is to have two discs of bread and a punch of crust to pop the bait up off the bottom. I then roll the bread with a rolling pin to compress it, this not only ensures it sinks but also makes sure it reaches the desired distance without coming off on the cast. To make my special hook bait it’s a case of taking two rolled slices and adding a small amount of damp Bait-Tech Special G Green groundbait on one of the slices and then adding the other slice on top, and compressing the lot together, this makes a hook bait that will leak groundbait and add some scent into the water around the rig giving a different slant on the bog standard approach and is something that I have had loads of success with in recent times! Fishing a punch of this on the method feeder is my number one hook bait and I have complete confidence in it. I also use two punches of this on the bomb as change bait. Typically though for the bomb three 10mm pieces of bread is my go to hook bait, along with two 8mm pieces on the feeder.
For my session this month I visited Nicks Lake at the awesome Hartleylands Farm complex in deepest Kent. Choosing a peg with both open water and island options it would give me the opportunity to demonstrate both methods in the best possible way. A heavy overnight frost would also make things bit more interesting. Setting up in the glistening winter sunshine I decided to kick off very cautiously on the bomb and seeing how things panned out before committing to any amount of bait on the feeder. Casting to the middle area between the two islands with 3 10mm discs on the hair it was time to sit back, relax, drink coffee and await a wrenching bite on the tip. This wasn’t too long in coming and around 10 minutes in a good pull round on the tip saw the first of many small commons finding its way into the net. A few more fish followed but with the morning frost now burnt off I was keen to try the feeder to the island in the shallower water, it would either be brilliant or an absolute waste of time with the conditions being as cold, dropping the feeder about a foot away from the island into the slightly deeper water I was pleasantly surprised to catch on my first cast, with an 8mm punch of the groundbait sandwich hook bait! This proved to be the move of the day and sport was steady throughout my four hour session, in which I managed to bank around 50 carp up to 4lbs for a weight approaching the magical 100lb barrier, which on a cold day was a true result and testimony to what a deadly method and bait this is.
So there you have it, one of our most classic baits ever and by adding some modern twists to the old faithful we’ve managed to catch some awesome match winning bags of fish along the way. So all that remains is for me to say Use Your Loaf, get out there and try it!