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How to catch carp on bread in six easy steps

How to catch carp on bread - Colin Davidson holding a carp caught using bread
Learn how to catch carp on bread (Image credit: Angler's Mail)

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If you fancy learning how to catch carp on bread, you've come to the right place. Having been amazed at how quickly the carp world honed in on and then 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.

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.

There's plenty of reasons why more and more anglers want to learn how to catch carp on bread. 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 how to catch carp on bread 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…

How to catch carp on bread - a bag of bread crumbs and other tackle

How to catch carp on bread - you need to start with a food processor. (Image credit: Angler's Mail)

How to catch carp on bread: step 1

Your 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.

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.

Bread on its own is enough to catch plenty of carp 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 online 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.

Check out: How to cast for carp: learn how to cast further

How to catch carp on bread - bread crumbs being compressed into a cobweb mesh tube

How to catch carp on bread - you don't want to compress the bread too firmly. (Image credit: Angler's Mail)

How to catch carp on bread: step 2

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.

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.

Check out: Everything you need to know about how to use pellets to catch carp

How to catch carp on bread - hook baits

How to catch carp on bread - you're now ready to add hook baits. (Image credit: Angler's Mail)

How to catch carp on bread: step 3

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.

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.

Check out: How to catch carp in winter

How to catch carp on bread - an ESP rig sleeve

How to catch carp on bread - thread an ESP rig sleeve on to the link. (Image credit: Angler's Mail)

How to catch carp on bread: step 4

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.

Check out: Carp floats: everything you need to know

How to catch carp on bread - dried bread flake

How to catch carp on bread - you can also add dried bread flake if you want. (Image credit: Angler's Mail)

How to catch carp on bread: step 5

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's 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.

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.

Check out: How to choose fishing bait: what you need to catch more fish

How to catch carp on bread - bread balls

How to catch carp on bread - use a decent groundbait catty or sling shot on a spare rod to spread the bread balls. (Image credit: Angler's Mail)

How to catch carp on bread: step 6

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.

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!

Check out: Best fishing times: how knowing when to go can improve your chances of success