This form of bread is easy to prepare and it is both denser and softer than conventional dry crusts. This bait sinks and more importantly, being softer, the fish tend to hang on longer to the bait giving more positive bites. It is also easier to strike through the bait to catch the fish resulting in a higher bite to fish caught ratio.
Preparation of wet bread
Step 1 Select a good quality loaf with plenty of white crust.
Step 2 Cut off the lighter pieces of crust and discard any dark or burnt parts.
Step 3 The crusts are then soaked in water for about 10 minutes. My Grandfather always added sugar to the water to sweeten the bait. Many modern anglers now add sweetener with a little flavouring with good results. However it is always advisable to add too little flavouring rather than too much. I rarely add more than 2ml to the water.
Step 4 The crusts are then removed and placed between the sheets of newspaper.
Step 5 A book is then left on top of the bait in newspaper overnight.
Step 6 A small piece of wet crust is then torn off for hook bait. I mainly use size 10 hooks with this bait. I insert the hook in the bait and then twist it and rethread it back through the crust, so that the hook passes twice through the bait. This helps keep this soft bait on the hook.
Step 1 The white inside of the loaf is mashed up with water and either bread crumbs or commercial groundbait added to make it stiff.
Step 2 Stones are often added when fishing very fast water to make the groundbait sink quickly. This is only used when fishing faster, deeper water. In shallower or less fast flowing water I seldom need to add a stone and just place balls of groundbait in the swim.
Tackle and tactics
Wet bread is primarily a trotting bait and as such is mainly used with trotting tackle. As most of my trotting is on fast flowing Southern rivers, I opt for a powerful float rod with all-through action so that it picks up the line when long trotting. This is matched with a centre pin loaded with 3lb b.s. line. The use of the pin is very much a matter of personal preference as I believe it helps give better presentation. However most anglers use a good fixed spool or closed face reel to good effect. The three pound line is necessary as I am fishing for very big roach in fast flowing water.
The terminal tackle is heavy to minimise the effort in casting and to keep the soft bait on the hook. I normally use a crowquill Avon float with a polystyrene body. These floats are made by top Bristol match angler "Topper" Haskins. They hold a lot of weight for their size as the polystyrene body is so buoyant yet only having a crowquill tip above water, have terrific sensitivity. Certainly to date it's the best fast water trotting float that I have ever used. However one word of warning, these floats must be fished with three float caps; one at the base of the crowquill, one at the bottom of the polystyrene body with another on the crowquill tip. This avoids breaking the sensitive crowquill on the strike.
The shotting of the float is rather crude and basic. The bulk of the shot is placed between 12 and 18 inches from the hook. As a rough rule the deeper and faster the water, the nearer the hook the shot is placed. I have over the years replaced bulk shot with tungsten olivettes. They are denser and consequently smaller than bulk shot, with the added advantage of being streamlined offering less resistance to the strike, making easier-to-hit bites. Between the hook and olivette, a few number four or six shots are spaced out to improve presentation and bite indication. I also place a number six shot two inches under the float to act as a depth marker.
Results with wet bread I have used wet bread for many years and had excellent results with both roach and dace from Southern chalk streams. My best roach to date on trotted wet bread was 3lb 2 oz whilst the biggest dace went 1lb 2oz. This dace was an October fish and at the time I was convinced that if I could catch it in March I would have the British record dace. Unfortunately that year saw terrific flooding at the end of the season and I could get nowhere near the swim.
I remember fishing the River Kennet a few years ago with my old friend Lee Kitchen. We were fishing above Newbury after a long cold session that ended in terrific rain flooding the river but now the flood water was running off. All the locals were legering dry crust or flake for the roach but I was determined to float fish. I believed that the water had warmed up sufficiently for the fish to take a moving bait. I set up with my 12ft trotting rod, centre pin loaded with 3lb b.s. line and a crowquill Avon float holding the equivalent of 9BB. I plumbed up along the far side bank and found a slacker gravel run of about 4 1/2ft deep
The pace of the water was slower there as the main force of the current was hitting my bank. This made it an ideal swim that was very comfortable for trotting.
After plumbing the depth the float was set so that the bait would be trotted through just touching the bottom and at current speed. Two cricket balls of mashed bread groundbait were introduced into the top of the swim. I then trotted at current speed for about ten minutes without a bite before deciding on a slight change of tactic. I reasoned that the water was slightly more turbulent than I had originally thought. The surface water was moving much faster than the lower layers. My bait was rushing through the swim in a most unnatural way. The stones and slightly uneven bottom were slowing that bottom layer of water down. l had to present a bait much more slowly through the swim. I set the float several inches over depth and worked the float through the swim holding back so that the bait was moving much more slowly across the bottom.
On the first cast the float only travelled 5ft before it buried under the surface. I struck into fairly solid resistance of a good roach. After a rather short but spirited fight I landed a scale perfect roach of 21b 3oz. Sport remained steady for the next three hours resulting in eighteen roach between 11b 3oz and 21b 10 oz together with seven nice dace to 14oz. The swim then died completely.
The catch amazed most other anglers on the venue as most had blanked on their legered bread. Only two other roach had been caught that day. I was very pleased as I had proved that on the right day float fishing can really score and that wet bread is a really serious alternative to dry bread baits.
Over the years I have had numerous big roach and dace on wet bread but this bait also produces other species including carp, barbel, chub, tench and I have also had monstrous grayling to 3lb 6oz on it. Certainly a bait worth using and one which in my opinion often has the edge over conventional dry bread baits.