Tag Archives: barbel rigs

Bread and how to get the best out of it

By Keith Speer

Of all the baits available to the modern angler Bread is probably the most underused and yet the most deadly, considered by many to be old fashioned and out dated, Bread has become unfashionable, happily our quarry does not follow fashion and as such Bread will take fish just as well today as in yesteryear.

However to get the best out of Bread, proper preparation will unquestionably increase an anglers chances of catching not just more, but better quality fish of all the major species.

Many of today’s top anglers still use Bread; indeed Bread is often the bait of choice for those anglers that consistently catch 2lb and 3lb Roach.

One advantage Bread has is that for the price of a pint of Casters or a pack of Pellets, you can buy 3 good quality loaves of bread, which is often more than enough for a days fishing, it just needs to be prepared properly, that includes both ground bait and hook bait, as with anything practice makes perfect, however when you get it right, it can be a bait that is second to none.

This is my way with Bread, I wont say it is the only way, but it does work, both on running and still water, on running water it works particularly well through Autumn and Winter.

Bread mash ground bait and how to prepare it.

Buy whole uncut loaves from a proper baker (not a supermarket)

cut each of them into six sections, place in a airing cupboard or any warm place (I hang mine up in a boilie air drying bag) for at least 2 weeks until they are bone dry, brittle and very much lighter in weight.

Once dried properly they will not go mouldy as there will be no water left to aid decomposition or fungal growth, as long as you keep it dry you can keep it for several months.

To make the mash, take as much as you need and place it in a bucket, fill the bucket with water and leave it to soak until all of the Bread is soft, this can take a couple of hours, when soaked properly it will slip sloppily through your fingers, there must be no hard or even semi-hard lumps.

Drain the water and place the Bread in a fine mesh bag (I use an old weigh sling).

Compress the Bread filled bag to drain even more water and then either stand on it or place a very heavy weight on it and let as much water as is physically possible to drain away, you should end up with a semi solid lump.

Now is the time to mash it up with a potato masher, this is quite hard work and you MUST mash and mash and mash until you have broken all of the bread down.

You can now either use it or freeze it.

You will know when you have the right consistency as you will be able to squeeze a lump around a plummet and swing it out into your swim without it falling off, let it sink to the bottom and then a couple of bounces will cause it to disperse through your swim.

It will break up into millions of tiny particles, too small to be of any feed value, you will see this if you throw a small ball into the river and watch it break up.

The important point is that it breaks up into particles that are too small for the fish to feed on, they know its there but there is no food value to it, as the energy used to eat the small particles is far more than the energy gained from the tiny bits of feed.

If you get it right, when the fish do find a bit (your hook bait) that is worth eating , they seize upon it with some force, thus the bites come as a solid plunge under of the float, which are hard to miss.

One further point, you will know if the ground bait is properly mashed by looking into the mouths of the fish that you catch, if the mouth is clean you have got it right, if there is any Bread in the mouth or a fish is gobbing up bread then you have not mashed it up enough.

To bait up simply throw a small ball into the swim upstream of where you intend to fish, if the flow is pacey mould the Bread mash around a small stone which will get the bait down quickly.

This is how I was taught to make up Bread mash ground bait for the Tidal Thames while fishing from a punt and it is absolutely deadly, far superior to using Liquidised Bread as the particles stay in suspension for much longer and thus drift further down the swim bringing many more fish up to the main catching area.

On the Tidal Thames we have on several occasions been amazed as you can see the progress of a shoal of Bream or Roach as it moves up to our punt from as far as 35 yds downstream, we know this is happening as we start to catch at long range and then pick up fish as they get closer and closer until the shoal is right under the punt and we are getting bites as soon as the float cocks.

Wet Bread as a hook bait

Wet Bread is a cracking hook bait, much underused in this modern age.

Many anglers are loath to use Bread as it can come off the hook easily and they are constantly unsure whether their bait is still on or not, the solution is to use Wet Bread, this is a tough and durable hook bait that will stay on the hook for several casts and yet is soft enough to ensure good solid hook penetration even at distance when long trotting.

Take a plated loaf, you will have to buy this at a proper bakers, it is a sort of un-leavened Bread I think, and I cannot for the life of me remember what it is called, I get mine from a Kosher Baker.

I cut the crusts off in such a way that each layer of crust is about 1 to 2 inches thick this will leave a section of the white inner Bread which I just chuck in with the rest of my drying Bread for making my mashed bread ground bait.

Take the crusts and dry them off completely until they are light and brittle, as in making Bread mash they MUST be completely dry, again once properly dried the crusts will keep for months.

The night before you wish to use them place them in a shallow dish and then pour very hot water, about as hot as you can stand without scolding your hand, over the dry crusts, leave this for about 2 minuets then squash the water out and place each section of crust on a clean tea towel and wrap it up in the tea towel, place a very heavy weight on the tea towel and leave it over night.

In the morning remove the crust carefully from the tea towel and wrap it in clean dry newspaper, this will soak up the last of the water.

One loaf will provide enough hook bait for about six days fishing, so don’t prepare too much at once.

Go fishing!

At the waters edge un-wrap the crust so that the white of the Bread is exposed, then simply rub your finger over the white Bread, as you do this you will find that the Bread peels off in layers, simply pass the hook through a rolled up layer or wrap it around the hook or fold a piece in half and pass the hook through it, each way gives a slightly different presentation to the bait as you trot it through the swim, and as you all know presentation is everything particularly when you are fishing for big roach.

I also take a few slices of fresh white sliced Bread with me as this gives me the opportunity to have a change bait.

Squeeze a piece of the sliced Bread around the shank of the hook, leaving a nice bit of fluffy flake around the bend and leave the hook point exposed, now you can either dip it in the water and squeeze slightly to give it a bit of weight or leave it as it is, both of these baits behave slightly differently when trotting.

Crust is another change bait, cut a piece of crust from the slice pass the hook through the centre of the crust side and out again on the same side, again to give it a bit of weight dunk it in the water, swing the bait back to hand and the carefully squeeze some of the water from the crust (as you squeeze the water out you will also squeeze out some of the air) this will produce a neutral buoyancy bait that will often take one or more of the other species that are responding to your bait trail.

Depending on; flow, colour, depth of feeding fish and range, you may find that you get more bites on one rather than another of the described hook baits.

When I fish Bread in this manner I am also constantly changing my shotting pattern and depth and I also change the speed at which I allow the tackle to pass through the swim by holding back with varying degrees of firmness until I get the presentation as right as I can.

I realise that all this is entails a lot of work in bait preparation and sometimes it can take several hours to get my bait right for a days fishing and maybe I am too fussy, however I would point out that in the hands of a good angler, given the right conditions, Bread can, and will, consistently out perform other methods and baits.

I hope that this has been of some use and I must say that if you have never tried it, do yourself a favour and give Bread a go.

I have not touched upon Punch and Puff and how to prepare it for still water, canals and slow moving rivers, that I will leave that for another day.

Tight Lines.

End of November News Update

After 3 months or so since the idea was conceived, fertilized and germinated, the Association of Barbel Fishers’ ‘birth’ was confirmed to the angling public and the membership was opened on 19th November 2010.

Whilst some of the original invited participants were becoming a little anxious that things were not progressing, there was an awful lotof hard work done behind the curtains. Our technical/admin guys, Conrad & Paul, were making sure they ironed out most if not all the bugs & idiosyncrasies of the Word Press ‘engine’ as related to your Forum. We all, collectively, drew up the association rules, guidelines etc., clarified and cleaned them up to a point where they were acceptable to the original members and then pushed the button.

We were admirably supported by BFW and at their suggestion posted our announcement on the main board, where to date it has had >10,000 views and 150+ replies and a very, very good reception from most, generating a membership acceleration to 100+ in the first week.

We need to hopefully maintain this momentum during the coming weeks, through the festive season and into a bright new year, so that we can start to programme in some of the already suggested activities which may generate further interest in our venture. It is reassuring to note at this time that although there has been some ‘anti-activity’ to the venture, we all have refrained from becoming involved in internet jousting with the detractors. This was one of our agreed stated aims and should remain there, high on our list of ‘things-to-not-do’.

We did consider holding an inaugural meeting to coincide with the public launch but agreed that this was maybe too onerous a step at this time of the year. It is now a probability that we can and should organise such an event to follow the season end in March 2011 and possibly during the better weather of April, better for travelling is what I mean. This meeting should also be deemed as our initial Annual General Meeting (AGM), for the members, which could be held immediately prior to the ‘inaugural’ meting for all-comers to meet us.

In addition to the proposed meeting(s) and now we have attained 100+ members it may be prudent to consider the ‘ways-and-means’ of instituting the desired nomination & voting system, to allow the membership to select the candidates/nominees for the Committee positions, to replace the original management team. Some of the team I am sure may be willing to continue if selected and some may wish to handover their responsibilities. Conrad has already hinted that he has ideas for the process but we will need to programme the process to meet the requirement for an elected Committee to be in place by November 2011.

I have already started the search for waters where we can either become affiliated with owning clubs/associations or waters that may be or become available in the near future, where we can budget for acquisition/leasing.

I believe the ‘Away days’ initiative, whereby members can arrange exchanges with colleagues, appears to be self-starting on the Forum. Let us not allow it to stall but promote it among ourselves so that it becomes an attractive feature of the association. I know it is not

really an opportune time at present, with the current adverse weather but there may be plenty of occasions between January and the end of season to get involved. These ‘Away days’ are not intended to be large parties, just members getting together in small groups, one-on-one or a couple or so at most joining up with individuals or colleagues with little or no organisation required.

The ‘Fish-Ins’ will be the association functions where we can make ourselves highly visible to the angling fraternity and these can be both ‘open’ and ‘closed’ affairs. The ‘closed’ type fish-ins are probably more suited to something organised for the relative newcomers to the sport of barbel fishing, of which there are possibly a fair number in the membership already and to come. The ‘open’ type will probably be more suited to promotion of the association to those who could become valued members, by inviting them along to meet us.

The ‘Fish-Ins’ are also considered to be the likely source of funding for the association intention of support for charities/deserving causes. These recipients are to be selected by the members and will not assigned by any individual desire.

We would appreciate any views any member has on any of the above points and such views can be posted on this thread or by PM to me,should anyone wish to initially retain some privacy.

To those new members I have missed a ‘welcome’ to, please accept this news update as your own welcome as well as a big ‘Thanks’ from me for joining us,


The Only Rig You Will Ever Need.

By Dave Burr

There are few articles written about barbel rigs because, let’s face it, they aren’t usually that difficult to tempt. But there are considerations to be made and some of the dog’s dinners I’ve seen anglers using have made me shudder.

Let’s get one thing straight from the off – barbel are not carp. If you use carp tackle, especially lead clips, you are risking damage or death to fish in the event of a break off. I have recovered rigs with lead clips that I have had difficulty pulling apart with my hands so a tired, tethered barbel would have no chance.

Over the years I have tried numerous adaptations on a theme and have made all the mistakes that everybody else makes but, I have kept experimenting. I now have a rig that I haven’t changed for two or three seasons which means that I am quite happy with it. It ticks all the boxes and I believe that it is just about perfect – the only one I and hopefully you, will ever need.

The hook and leader are adaptable to conditions, more of that later. The important part for me is where the lead connects to the hooklink. This area is where we have to place most consideration to the fish’s welfare as a fish towing a lead is in severe danger. Also, and of great concern to me, was the number of times I lost a fish when the leader wrapped around the lead link. A barbel in full panic flight will make short work of most leader materials if they are tied around a lead or link swivel, recovering a short, broken hooklink is usually a sign that this has happened. I tried beads, sometimes two or three in a row to create a stand off effect and this usually worked but not always, the same is true of tail rubbers. Using a link swivel is always liable to create a tangle just by virtue of the amount of drop from the main line. Any roll on your end gear, something we often do to provoke a take, is likely to tie the whole lot into a knot.

So, let’s get to the point – Korda anti tangle sleeves (Kats), the answer to the barbel angler’s prayer. The pictures will show what I am on about so have a look first at the old, tangle prone version.

Now look at the one with the Kats. Immediately it is apparent that the stand off effect is exaggerated which helps us no end. But the clever bit comes when we eliminate the swivel from the link to the lead. By taking the swivel out of the equation we remove most of the problems associated with tangles. By using just the link and attaching it directly onto the Kats we create a semi-fixed, self-hooking rig that is generally what we are looking for when barbel angling. The taper of the sleeve allows us to fine tune the amount of tension on the link and, in the event of the fish snapping you off and by carefully attaching the link at the correct point on the Kats, the lead will easily slip off and the fish will not become tethered. It really is simplicity itself and works with leads and feeders.

But, I here you ask, what about when I want to use a running lead? Easy, just slide the link off the Kats and away you go, a running lead. If you want to be cute and, in true Boy Scout manner, prepared, simply add a bead above the Kats when you set up. Now, if you are roving and altering your approach in different swims, you simply reattach the link above the bead which will stop it from riding up the Kats and give you a perfect running rig.

You can even do away with the swivel at the end of your mainline and use a quick change link. This allows you to switch and swap your terminal gear as well as going from fixed to running lead with the absolute minimum of fuss.

My last bit of fine tuning is to cover anything shiney – usually the link when its been on gravel for a while – with bits of modelling clay which will stay in place as there are no moving parts such as you have when using a link and swivel.

For the bit between the Kats and the hook, well that’s a whole article in itself. I am certain that many of you have your own opinions of hooklinks and I have tried them all. For the record, I generally start off with a length of Fluorocarbon which gives me a hooklink that will sink and sit well on the bottom. This may go directly to the hook or, when I feel it is necessary, I will form a combi-rig by attaching a short braided hooklink to the fluoro via a mini swivel.

I believe that Conrad is setting this up so that comments can be added below the articles so please, discuss, argue and add your observations.

The rig in fixed mode
In running mode
With bead for the full boyscout mode
All the bits you need