Lots of anglers from the Europe and the US come to Thailand, take a look at the “primitive” fishing methods and baits used by the locals and are immediately convinced that with an armoury of more “sophisticated” methods and baits they will be catching fish by the thousands. Well, best of luck on trying this. You will be following a well trodden path that for most people leads to nowhere.
What you really need is bread. There are of course lots of other baits that you can use, but bread is number 1 due to the wide variety of fish that will happily gobble it up. Bread is widely used as a hook bait for Striped and Mekong catfish, as well as for Carp and many other species.
Thai’s might not eat much bread, but Thai fish love it. They especially like jam sandwiches cut up into small pieces and squashed around the feeder – or at least some do… others prefer a mixture of rice bran (lum) and chopped bread; or coconut and rice bran… there are options here! You will need to experiment with your feeder bait.
Bread Crust as a Hook Bait
One common way to use bread with a large hook is to roll up the crust (with some flake attached) and push the hook point through this rolled “wad” of bread. In the photo below there are two “wads” of bread with a poly ball quite literally sandwiched between them. The poly ball is entirely optional; some people swear by them and others just can’t see any benefit at all. Personally, I like them. I think they improve my bite rate quite a bit.
The poly ball is there to add buoyancy and counteract the weight of the forged hook. Depending on the size of the poly ball relative to the hook this may just lighten the presented bait so that it is more easily sucked up by the fish, or actually “pop it up” off the lake bed completely. This is a good one to experiment with in the kitchen at home with a rig and a bowl of water.
Bread Crust on a Hook – behaviour in water
Bread Discs – Made with a Bread Punch
The picture below shows me with a homemade bread punch made out of a piece of my garden rake handle. It’s a good job I’m only short or I would be missing it!
I made the bread punch partly because I am cheap, but also because you can’t easily get them in Thailand, and because I wanted a big beast to match the size of my quarry. I don’t know if you can buy them this big anywhere.
I sharpened my length of steel pipe on one end so that it will easily push through a small stack of bread in one go. The knack to using it is to make several “punches” through the bread and only then release the nicely compressed discs with the plunger stick.
An alternative to my punch design is to make a plastic one using a large syringe. Just cut the top off at the end of the tube where the needle goes, sharpen it a little, then use it. As with mine, just stab it into the bread over and over again until it’s about half full and then press the plunger down – voila, a stack of lightly compressed bread discs.
Bread Discs – On the Hook
However you make your punch, these bread discs are a great way to use bread because they stay on the hook a long time. Once you have your discs made you need to consider how to present them. The picture below shows two ways: directly on the hook, or fixed onto a hair rig. Both can work very well. Up to you… as they say in Thailand.
Uncompressed Bread Discs on a Hair, in Water: Left is with a poly-ball and “pops-up”; right is without, but it still “pops-up” strongly due to air trapped within the bread structure. The inset pictures of the dry hooks and bread show that the disks were slightly compressed from being punched, but float up nonetheless.
Compressed Bread Discs on Hook and Hair: These discs were given a good squashing before being added to a hair-rig (left) and hook (right). These no longer “pop-up” but are still semi-bouyant and expand to form a good large bait – and big fish like big baits… This presentation works very well at Bo Sang, especially if a sweetener (or jam) is added to the bread. Punching bread from “7-11″ jammy sandwiches is also a good option.
Other Ways to Present Bread as a Hook Bait
Crust is often used when targeting larger Carp. As bread crust is buoyant, the best way to fish with it is either on the surface or when you are looking to fish a “popped-up” bait, with a sliding ledger rig. An uncut loaf provides the best crust. In order to best prepare the crust for use as hook bait, leave an uncut loaf in a plastic bag for a couple of days. This allows it to sweat and produce a tough, rubbery crust that will stay on the hook much longer than otherwise.
Flake is one of the most commonly used of the bread baits. You can use any bread for bread flake, but the inside of an uncut loaf makes the best bread flake. In order to present bread flake, take a piece about the size of a 10 Baht coin and carefully pinch it around the stem of the hook – leave the rest light and fluffy, and disguising your hook. In the water you want the flake to swell up and look as natural and as fluffy as possible. If you squeeze it to much this will not happen.
Bread can be used to great effect in a cocktail along with worms, sweetcorn sausage pieces, etc. The combination of the bright white bread flake combined with the movement of a worm or the colour contrast of another bait is something that many fish cannot resist.