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A Simple Method?

by Fred Davis

Bread punch! Simply the easiest form of fishing? A piece of bread punch  impaled on a hook and cast out, so simple yet I reckon 95% of anglers start wrong and blow what can be one of the most effective canal/river/still water  methods ever used. why? Because some anglers don't think about what they are doing, or what they are trying to achieve. Instead they copy their friends who think they are doing it right, or indeed read an article where they are shown a standard approach and then try to apply it to all aspects of bread punch fishing, and yes I have also taken the easy route as most of us have!

It was when fishing in the London postal region matches that one angler was head and shoulders above others and always seemed to frame when the conditions were right for the bread, sometimes winning canal matches with over 20lbs of roach. I couldn't understand how it was being done as my feeble efforts produced 3lb of roach on a good day. 10lb's seemed unreachable but 20lb was a dream. Firstly I put it down to a fluke, he must have sat on a shed full or had some bream or any other excuse I could think of to cover up for my ineptitude. It was only when this same angler kept on repeating the process that I thought there's more to this than meets the eye!

So started the learning process, and it was at every opportunity that I started to watch good punch anglers and slowly dripping water wore away stone and I now feel that I have learnt enough to help and improve the average punch angler to move onto the next level. I really think that with this simple method you really have to go back to basics and apply some thought as how to fish the method.
If you ask yourself "what do I already know about Bread punch?" 99% of anglers would say that it is one of the most instant methods in that it works extremely fast, it is so instant and can result in bites from fish straight away. Now because of this factor the best sort of floats are wire stemmed almost self cockers so that they settle in the water faster, therefore recording bites instantly. I also like the floats to have a slim body shape so that there is less inertia to pull them under from shy biting roach, thin bristles dotted down can  be the requirement of the day.
A selection of punch floats. Maver xl and Basset floats, such as London punch are my first choice on a strung out shotting pattern, for bulk shot a rugby or diamond shape is ideal and a wire stem for bulk rigs is not a major requirement. 
On big rivers where the roach are bigger and have less time to inspect the bait, bigger floats such as topper Haskins and wagglers can be used to fish the punch 4 to 5 rod lengths out, which is sometimes required if you are to be in the catching zone. Also the bread punch feeder can also have it's day. Using gravel added to punch feed in fast rivers is one of many feeding ploys in extreme conditions. However, for starters it is better to try and perfect the bread punch technique on canals and then apply what you have learnt to other boundaries. Shotting patterns need some thought as well as hooks etc. and again you need to apply thought as to what species you are targeting. For example, if bream, I  would fish slightly over depth and I would use a bigger sized punch and have a bulk and three droppers. Unlike with roach, a strung out pattern would be my first choice as well as a bagging rig, and my starting gambit would be to fish this 1 inch off full depth. Now all this I knew or thought I did.

              "where was I going wrong? "

You may well be asking yourself the same question, I did, especially when a battering was being had time and time again. Well the main part was in the feeding, but a lot of it was in trying to achieve the impossible! The biggest mistake anglers make when fishing the punch is trying to fish and feed by hand to far out. Lots of angler will start to fish at 5 or 6mtres feeding
bread punch straight from the bag, BIG MISTAKE!

You will hear such statements as feed a ball and fish it out or cupped in two balls had them for an hour then they went, etc. Again no respect for the species that they are targeting. Bold statements indeed you may well say!

However, What I will say now could result in a total change in the way you fish bread punch. The most biggest consideration on how you fish the punch and what feeding method you apply is dictated mostly by the species you are after. So how is it possible to catch big weights of canal roach? Again we have to think about the species, with roach the little and often approach has always been a good way to feed whether with bronze maggots, hemp, casters etc. We know this from fishing other methods, so why do 95% of anglers feed a big ball of bread punch straight from the bag, and end up doing more damage than they could imagine? Yes, initially they will get a few fish, but you must think of it as the equivalent to tipping in a pint of maggots and then to add to it! They then top up again and again and the peg ultimately

I could understand  if the target species was bream by feeding a big cup then fishing it out and not topping up. (I have had more bream disappear in winter from topping up a peg with more feed than I ever have by losing one in the peg.)    
However, I digress so how should we target canal roach for big weights? Obviously by feeding little and often and accurately. Not easy at a distance, this method can be devastatingly applied when feeding by hand maximum 4 metres at a real push 5, but the accuracy will suffer because of the small size of feed that you are feeding by hand, so a small squatt pot attached to the pole is the answer.

For really big weights, 3 or 4 metres to hand  is "The  Canal Method" for Roach. What makes me smile is that most anglers move automatically to the 5/6 metre line without a look on this line, blaming the clarity of the water,
stating they will not catch close without even trying!

Rob Pottinger is a punch angler supreme and on one match he knocked out another 20lb bag at  3mtres at Northchurch on the Grand Union canal. Anglers watching said the water was so clear they could see the bottom but no fish, yet "Potty" was catching very regularly! They only saw the roach as
it flashed after being hooked, time and time again. If I had not seen this for myself I would have said nonsense and that myths are made on such stories. 

So how do we prepare this great bait and how do we feed it? Firstly buy a loaf, my preference is a Tesco value loaf, extremely cheap and ideal for feed. If fishing on Sunday I purchase a loaf on the Wednesday before and liquidise it on Saturday for use on Sunday. I take off the crusts of each slice and then place each slice in a liquidiser. Once liquidised I then put the liquidised bread through a pinkie riddle, re liquidising any lumps that don't go through. Some top bread anglers actually use a coffee grinder putting it through a slice at a time, a laborious process but it makes the finished product extremely fine. The loaf, being a few days old, dries out making it ideal to liquidise for feed, as for the bread for the hook any good  brand will do, the fresher the better as this needs to be stickier. I use medium Hovis white, but any decent brand will do. Again  preparation is needed. I cut off the crusts place each slice into a microwave oven for 10 seconds and then roll each slice before cutting in half  and placing in cling film to stop it from drying out. 


Bread punch, liquidised, sieved with the crust cut off ready to use or freeze until required.
Having prepared my bread punch it is then used on the match and any unused bread punch is frozen and used next time, although I always use fresh steamed 'rolled' bread for the hook. For feeding, I pour some of the bread
punch into a shallow tray and have more at one end.

I use an Octoplus groundbait tray and top as I go. This was what was left after my session with the 10lb of small roach caught at 4mtres.
Picking  my feed  from the shallow end using two fingers and a thumb allows me to pick up tiny amounts of crumb, feeding little and often is the key, you will find that feeding accurately at 4 metres is easy with practice. With the Roach it pays to look on top and bottom of the near shelf in the deeper water, however when you catch on top of the shelf it can be quicker and a real big bag can be achieved. Other times you may have to catch down or alternate between the two. Obviously you can feed across the canal and on Roach dominated boundaries I will again adopt a little and often approach with a small squatt pot, although if there are skimmers/bream about then I will consider feeding a tangerine sized ball across and fishing over it without topping up! In fact, even with carp on commercials I have noticed that the cracks only re feed another ball when the bites really start to dry up.

But for the Roach, it is little and often if you want a big bag! Again this is not a method for the lazy because you will have to work mentally assessing when to feed and when to concentrate on catching, bread is a very filling bait and even though you are feeding very small amounts you have to be extremely careful. You have to have your finger on the pulse and swinging to hand and
re baiting and unhooking have to become second nature if a weight of 10lb + is required and for those big weights you have to be cooking on gas as
they say!
I have had a small practice on the Grand Union canal to show you how I set my stall for this type of fishing, my preferred float patterns and more importantly how to feed correctly. But before I do there are a few other areas we need to cover.

Bread Punches. When purchasing a bread punch there are several things to consider:
1) It needs to be shallow.
2) The centre cut needs to go to the centre of the punch.
3) It needs to cut cleanly.
4) Preferably it should float.
5) You should have a variety of sizes.

For really large pieces of punch for use on carp fisheries, meat punches may be used or Middy groundbait punches. Some of the best commercial punches that I have found are the Drennan type and some Middy punches. A lot of anglers rave about the old Image punches, but the slits in these could be
anywhere such was the poor quality of the punch. Either that or I was extremely unlucky in the two sets that I purchased, however lots of anglers make their own from bit's of car aerials , even bit's of carbon off cuts, but I personally can't be bothered.

A selection of different types of punches all used for punching out bread for species from roach to carp.
As I have already stated everything with bread has to be specie related. So for this session I will feed little and often for the Roach, lines will be 0.10 mainline and 0.8 flouro carbon hook length of 6 to 8 inches to the first shot. A size 22/20 hook a fine Gamakatsu blue hook, although I sometimes use a Kamasan B511 and if need be, and really bagging, would change to a B611. A decent Punch board helps and I use an Image board which has a sliding cover keeping the bread fresh to a certain degree whilst fishing, however some anglers just use a bait box lid to place the bread on prior to punching out pieces for the hook.

The float that I am using in this feature is the white bodied Maver XL hemp float, it meets all the requirements, being slim having a wire stem, and very sensitive. It can be shotted down, sometimes the roach that move the bristle a sixteenth of an inch are the lumps, these bite s need to be seen before they can be hit. The shotting pattern is simply spread shot in the bottom 3rd of the float set 2 inches apart to give a natural drop with a 6 inch hook length. Using  this shotting pattern means that if need be various types of presentation can be achieved to induce bites if the going gets tough, such as holding the rig still against the tow or edging it through, almost popping the punch into the fishes mouth.
If you want decent weights of fish on punch then you need to apply a bit of thought to the method, more importantly the species of fish you are targeting, and then apply what you already know about the method to the type of fish you seek. Do this and you will undoubtedly catch a lot more fish! Do not wear blinkers the punch, like any method, can be complimented. Using hemp with punch can result in a better bag of fish by switching later to the hemp. Some top teams try to wean the roach onto the squatt from the punch to try to improve the catch rate, do not be frightened to experiment to get the best out of punch.

10lb of bread punch Roach which were caught on a freezing cold day. The small size may have been improved with a switch to hemp

13lb of roach when a switch to hemp was made later in the session, this time it worked! Both bags were caught at 4 metres using the feeding pattern described.

Remember the blind are easily lead!!!!
Open your eyes to a new way of fishing and BA


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