Breadpunch is simply a pellet of bread cut from a slice of fresh bread with a sharp-edged circular tool. This simple, clean bait is most commonly associated with roach fishing, but it is also deadly for small tench, crucians and carp.
Punch is often reckoned to work best on cold, clear canals. When bites seem impossible to come by, the punch seems to produce like magic.
Matchmen all over Britain know how effective it can be. In many areas, turning up without a round or two of bread is like arriving without your rods! Matches are also won with the punch on other types of venue – rivers and lakes as well as canals.
Choosing and using
Many anglers swear by their own favourite brand of bread, some of which are only available locally, though any bread can be used for punch. It should be as dense as possible with few air holes. Medium sliced is best, but above all it must be fresh.
If the bread dries out, it is almost impossible to punch or to keep it on the hook. Before your trip, cut two or three slices into quarters, put them in an airtight plastic bag, and expel all the air. If you take out a quarter at a time, you always have fresh bread handy.
Casting any distance with a waggler and shipping a pole too quickly or jerkily can mean your hookbait comes off before it reaches the fish. To overcome this tendency, press or roll some of the bread with a rolling pin or jam jar, making it a bit denser and tougher.
To punch out a pellet, lay the slice on a clean, hard surface and push the bread-punch into the bread with a slight twisting motion. The pellet is now lodged in the head of the punch, ready for hooking.
Feed and feeding
The two main types of feed used when fishing the punch are cloudbait and liquidized bread. Cloudbait must be as fine as possible, so sieve your shop-bought bag through a flour sieve. Mix it with water either very dry or very wet. Sloppy groundbait forms a bigger cloud and is heavier, so you can throw it more accurately when it’s windy. Liquidized bread is best fed completely dry on still or slow flowing shallow waters. On deeper water you can dampen it with an atomizer or mix it with groundbait to help it sink more quickly.
There are no hard and fast rules for using either feed, but ‘a thumbnail a chuck’ is a good start. As with all baits and methods, you must experiment to find the most productive feeding pattern.
Remember that the particles of liquidized bread swell up in water, making it very easy to overfeed a shoal of shy roach on a cold day. Take it easy – you can always put more in ifthe fish are really feeding, but you can never take any out.
When fishing the punch, use a light fine wire hook so the hookbait doesn’t fall through the water too quickly. And finally, whichever float rig you use, make sure it allows the hookbait to sink naturally through the bottom third of the water.