Using your loaf – flake, mash and crust as fishing bait

Bread’s effectiveness as a bait is underestimated and it’s a pity it is not used as widely as it was 20 years ago. Bread interests roach, rudd, bream, barbel, chub, tench or carp – even if they have never seen the bait before. It has no offseason and is as eagerly accepted in the winter frosts as it is in the dog days of summer. What is more, it tends to attract a better stamp of fish.

What makes bread good?

To us, a slice of bread tastes and smells rather bland and this is probably why we invented the sandwich spread, but to fish it is just this clean, natural taste that is so enticing. Maybe colour has something to do with it too. Unless the fish has its head buried in the mud, a white morsel lying on the bottom is likely to attract the attention of even the most heavily preoccupied tench or carp.

Our daily bread

Forget the baps, baguettes, cottage loaves and cobs. Humble, medium-sliced and unsliced loaves – fresh ones, mind — are the finest choice for bread baits. These two types of loaf are effectively half a dozen baits in one. Three of the simplest are flake, mash and crust. Flake The advantage of flake is that it is light, fluffy, sinks slowly and rests on top of weed and mud rather than sinking into them.

Choice of hook size depends on bait size which in turn depends on the species you expect to catch. Don’t go too small – sizes 8-14 are about right for flake.

Simply pull a piece of bread from the middle of a slice – roughly round and 1-2.5cm in diameter. Push the hook through the middle and pinch the bread firmly around the hook’s shank, leaving the bend and barb free. If the bread is fresh and the cast not too vigorous, flake stays hooked for at least 20 minutes.

A good place to try flake is a spot on a river, lake or canal where the ducks are regularly fed by the public. Big roach get used to mopping up pieces of bread which the ducks have missed and a piece of flake fished on the drop may get you a real beauty. Mash Flake fished over a carpet of mashed bread is a good method for taking bream, tench and carp. Simply soak some bread thoroughly and mash it until the mix is firm enough to throw or catapult into the swim but sloppy enough to cloud the water.

Floating crust An uncut tin loaf provides one of the most effective surface baits for carp or rudd- floating crust. Use a fresh loaf – a dry crust cracks and comes off the hook. Match the size of bait to the type of fish you expect to catch, and match size of hook to bait size. An 8 lb carp is quite capable of swallowing a piece of crust the size of a matchbox – a bait which easily hides a size 2 hook. A VAb rudd has a comparatively small mouth, and a thumb-nail sized piece of crust on a 12 or 14 is perfect.


Often the subtlety of an unflavoured, uncoloured bait works perfectly but sometimes the fish prefer a souped-up bait.

Flavoured flake is excellent. You can use an atomizer containing liquid flavouring. Open the wrapper of a sliced loaf at both ends and spray with a few bursts from an atomizer. Reclose the wrapping, put the loaf in a polythene bag and store it in the freezer. On the bank the bread thaws and draws the flavour through the loaf. Liquid flavourings such as cream cheese, blue cheese and salmon are excellent but there are plenty more to experiment with.