How To Catch Grass Carp With Bread

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Bread is one of my most effective baits for targeting grass carp. However it’s not the easiest bait to use. It is difficult to keep it on the hook and difficult to present it naturally to the grass carp. But I have a few tricks and tips that have helped me to effectively catch grass carp with bread!

Quick Answer:

The trick to successfully catching grass carp with bread, is knowing how to hook the bread so that it doesn’t just fall off. Make sure you are using fresh moist bread that isn’t crumbly. Microwave the slice for around 10 seconds. And when fishing floating bread, try to hook through the crust. Be stealth and make sure you give a good presentation of the bait.

Why Bread is Such a Good Grass Carp Bait

grass carp caught in mesa canal

Grass carp love bread, and here’s why…

Grass carp were brought to the US to be used for keeping ponds clear of weed overgrowth. So most places we find grass carp are in community ponds and canals which are also attractive to ducks. And what do people feed ducks? Bread!

Well some of that bread is going to be missed by the ducks and left on the surface, or sink to the bottom. This is where the grass carp get a chance to feed on it.

The act of people feeding the ducks is actually working as automatic chumming! The grass carp are already used to eating it, and to them it’s a source of protein and sugar.

The Trick To Keeping Bread On The Hook

This is something I struggled with a lot early on. I think a lot of people have heard that bread is a good carp bait, but give up too soon when they realize how hard it can be to keep on the hook.

Well, I spend a lot of my time researching different fishing methods used around the world, and it turns out that the European anglers have come up with a useful trick.

The trick is to microwave the bread. By microwaving a slice of bread in a plastic bag for 8 to 10 seconds, it retains it’s soft fluffiness, but gains a rubbery toughness. It’s not perfect, and you still have to fish it delicately, but it definitely helps a lot!

Equally important is to use the lightest and most moist bread you can find. I recommend Wonder Bread because it’s light, moist and cheap. It can also be found all across the US.

Where To Catch Grass Carp With Bread

Carp caught on bread in mesa canal

When you first arrive to the spot, take some time to observe. Walk around and look to see if there are any fish feeding off the surface. Pay close attention to the water right along the banks and in the weeds and grass.

You have to be sneaky when you’re doing this. Grass carp are easily spooked if they see movement on the bank. It would even help if you wore colors that blend in with your background. Don’t make any sudden movements.

If You See Some Carp…

Grass carp rising to bread

If you see carp while stocking around, then that’s where you want to start fishing if possible.

And if you see them, then they are likely in shallow water, or feeding off the surface. This is where you can fish bread on the surface. I’ll get more into how to fish floating bread below.

If You Don’t See Any Carp…

If you weren’t able to find any grass carp, then plan B would be to start fishing where people often feed ducks.

Here’s a little cheat… Start by feeding the ducks. as the ducks are feeding they will be quacking, splashing and fighting. All these noises are like a dinner bell to the fish in the pond. They’ll come running just as fast as the ducks.

If chumming is allowed, break off a few pieces of bread, smash then into a tight ball in your fingers no bigger than a marble, and toss it in. The smashed bread will sink to the bottom.

You can then fish sinking bread with a float, or a sinker. I’ll go into the techniques I use to catch grass carp with floating and sinking bread next.

Floating Bread

catch grass carp with bread

Floating bread is the most difficult to fish, but it can be so much fun to see a big grass carp come up and slurp it down!

The crust of the bread is usually a bit tougher. I like to use the heals of the loaf if I have some. Hooking through the crust will help keep it on the hook.

If you still can’t keep the bread on the hook then try pinching just a small spot between your two fingers. This will create a hard spot where you can put the hook through.

keep bread on the hook
Pinched bread stays on the hook better

You should use a bite sized piece. You want the fish to easily be able to slurp the whole thing into it’s mouth on the first try.

How To Cast Floating Bread

It is very difficult to get any distance casting a small piece of bread like this. You can’t add any weight because it’ll sink the bread. However, you can use a clear plastic float which resembles a bubble on the water.

The problem with using a float is the splash when it hits the water. This splash will spook the fish if it’s too close. If you are using a float, try to predict where the carp is swimming to, and cast well ahead of him.

Free Lining

The best way to fish floating bread is without a float or sinker. This method is called freelining. All you have is your hook and bait. To get maximum casting distance, it helps to have a long flexible spinning rod. Also, try to use light line such as 6 pound test because it casts better.

If you don’t want to use such light line, you can use 30 pound braided line. Braided line is much thinner and has zero memory so it casts very well. Make sure you tie on at least 4 or 5 feet of fluoro or mono leader so the carp doesn’t see the braided line.

Sinking Bread

Sinking bread is much easier to use! However, the downside is that you can’t keep other fish from eating it.

The thing about bread is that all fish love bread… Especially small fish. One of the biggest challenges is usually bluegill stealing your bait. Here are a couple tips that help keep them off the hook.

Use a bigger hook and bread ball

A size 6 wide gap carp hook is usually a good size for grass carp. It’s big enough to keep most bluegill from getting hooked, yet small enough to be less noticed by the grass carp.

before putting the bread on the hook, I like to take a piece without any crust and kneed it into a tough dough-like ball. Then thread it on the hook. Make sure the point of the hook is exposed so it can do it’s job. Kneading the bread into a dough ball like this, will make it more difficult for small fish to pick apart.

Fish the bottom

As much as I love using a bobber with sinking bread, I have to say that letting the bread lay on the bottom works better for keeping the bluegill off of it. For whatever reason, I have noticed that bluegill lose interest in bait once it hits the bottom.

To fish the bottom, use a sliding sinker rig like this one shown below.

Sliding sinker rig

Slide an egg sinker onto your main line, then a bead. Next tie a swivel onto the end of the main line. Lastly, tie your leader and hook onto the other end of the swivel.

Hooks For Bread and Grass Carp

Unlike catfish, you don’t need very big hooks for grass carp. I use hooks between size 6 and 12. Grass carp can be pretty cautious about what they eat, and if they see a hook, they’ll leave it alone. That’s why you want to use small hooks that are easy to hide in the bread.

Another reason for using small hooks is that you don’t want a big heavy hook sinking your floating bread.

Hook Shape

I like to use J-hooks for carp. They are light and usually hook the carp in the lips.

There are a few carp specific hooks sold in the US. I like these Gamakatsu G-Carp Specialist R hooks that I found in Bass Pro Shops.

If you can’t find carp specific hooks, you can use any hook that looks similar. Baitholder hooks are very similar and Gamakatsu makes some really nice baitholders. The main thing about hook selection is to get the sharpest hooks you can find. Gamakatsu and Owner are a couple common brands that make really sharp hooks.

You can also sharpen your hooks. I use a small diamond sharpener to get my hooks super sharp. You should also check your hooks often to make sure they haven’t been bent or dulled by a rock.

Techniques For Catching Grass Carp With Bread

Ponds and Lakes

When you first get to a pond or lake, walk around and look for grass carp or their habitat.

Grass carp are usually found in shallow water. Their main diet is vegetation, so look in areas where grass or other vegetation is gowning in water 4 feet deep or less. Sometimes you’ll see the grass moving and some splashing from carp digging around at the roots.

When you see some grass carp near the surface, try throwing in some pieces of bread to see if the carp are interested. If the carp sees and eats the bread off the surface, then start fishing with floating bread.

If the carp ignores the bread on the surface, or if you don’t see any carp, then fish with sinking bread.

Have Patience

Grass Carp don’t go around chasing their food. They cruse around tasting things, and are looking to come across something to eat. This means that all you can do is cast your bread out and wait for one to come across it.

Don’t try to move the bait or recast to get the carps attention. This will only spook the fish. They are smart fish, and will not eat anything that seems strange to them.

Trust me… It’s well worth the wait when you feel the pull of an angry grass carp!

Canals And Rivers

Catching grass carp on bread in an Arizona canal
Me fishing bread on an Arizona Canal

Canals are my favorite place to catch grass carp with floating bread.

Begin the same as you would for lakes and rivers. Walk around and look for grass carp feeding on the surface, or swimming in shallow water.

Catch Grass Carp With Floating Bread

Early morning seems to be the best time to find grass carp feeding off the surface.

When you find grass carp eating off the surface, here is what you do…

  • Make sure you stay out of their sight. Carefully work your way to about 20 yards upstream of the feeding grass carp.
  • break off 4 or 5 pieces of bread and toss them out into the stream so that they will float down to where the grass carp are feeding. And watch to see if they eat the bread.
  • Put a piece of bread on your hook. It’s best to freeline it without a float, but if you have to use one, make sure it’s one of the clear plastic floats.
  • Toss 4 or 5 more pieces of bread into the water and cast your hooked bread just a few feet upstream of those so it’s the last piece to float over the carp.
  • keep your bail open so you can feed line off by hand. You want to make sure you don’t drag the bread through the water at all. If the carp see anything strange about your bread, they won’t eat it.
  • Watch your bread float all the way down to the feeding carp, and look for it to get eaten.
  • When a carp takes your bread, close your bait and reel quickly until you feel the slack tighten and the pull of the carp, then set the hook.

Bread With A Twist

Bread comes in all sorts of forms, Don’t feel like you have to limit yourself to a slice of white bread. I’ll go into some alternatives below.

Bread Pack Bait For Grass Carp

packbait for carp
Panko, Sweet Corn, and Strawberry Jello

Pack bait is an incredibly effective bait to catch grass carp. Pack bait was developed by anglers targeting common carp.

The pack bait is packed into a ball around your sinker and hook bait. As the pack bait sits on the bottom, it breaks apart leaving an attractive pile of bait with your hook bait presented right in the middle.

pack bait for pond fishing

There are a lot of different pack bait recipes, but since this article is focusing on bread, I’ll give you this panko recipe pictured above.

Mix the following ingredients in a bucket

  • Can of sweet corn
  • Pack of jello powder (flavor of choice)
  • Panko, or bread crumbs made with a blender

Mix these ingredients in a bucket and add water if it is too dry, and panko if it is too wet. You want the consistency to be such that you can easily pack it into a ball in your hand. If you let it sit for 30 minutes or so, the panko will soak up the liquid and become more sticky.

grass carp fishing
I caught this grass carp on the pack bait shown above.

Hook Bait

When fishing with pack bait you’ll need a hook bait as well. The perfect hook bait for the recipe above is corn. You can put the corn directly on your hook, or use a hair rig.

Hair rigs are great to keep turtles off your hook. Here’s a video on how to tie the rig.

Other Options For Bread

French Bread

Mantou Steamed Bread

If you want to learn more about how to catch grass carp, check out this article!

Obviously bread isn’t the only way to catch grass carp. Many of the baits used for common carp will also catch grass carp. Check out this article on carp baits to get more recipes and ideas!

If you’d like to learn more about grass carp from a biological and invasive species standpoint check out this page from the Minnesota Department Of Natural Resources website.

By John

Hi I'm John. I'm the author of I have been obsessed with fishing since my dad took me to catch bluegill in the creek as a little kid, over 20 years ago. I love learning and perfecting all kinds of fishing techniques. I have spent time living in different countries learning their unique traditional fishing methods, and then combining the best of all worlds to catch as many fish as possible. My hope is that this website can help you, or someone you are teaching, to have a better fishing experience early on so that you too can be hooked into this wonderful sport.