How to Catch Saltwater Fish With Bread As Bait

Saltwater fish species are known to favor certain types of baits, usually crustaceans and small fish. However, when you can’t find these, you can improvise—instead of hanging up your rods and lines. This is where bread can be helpful.

You can catch saltwater fish with bread as bait by adopting techniques that will hold the bread on the hook long enough inside the water to attract a bite. The techniques vary from making a bread punch to creating a paste. Using bread as bait is effective and widely adopted by many anglers.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the different ways you can effectively use bread as bait while fishing in saltwater.

Why Use Bread As Bait?

You may be wondering if using bread as bait is a good idea and why many anglers have no problems with it. There are a few reasons:

  • Bread is easy to find. If you’re like most people, then you most likely have some bread in your kitchen right now. You may also have some crumbs in your bin. Why waste the crumbs when you can put it to good use? Even when you choose to buy fresh bread to use as bait, you’ll almost certainly find a bread shop or bakery faster than you can find a fishing supplies shop.
  • It’s affordable. Even with all external factors considered, a loaf of bread (which you won’t use up on a fishing trip) will always be cheaper than buying live bait or artificial lures.
  • It’s environmentally friendly. Even when fish doesn’t take the bait, the bread in the water is harmless to the ecosystem. In fact, it can feed other microorganisms in the water other than fish. On the other hand, artificial lures are as good as dumping bits of plastic in the water. Even some live-bait options are not exactly safe, as you could end up introducing an invasive species to the water.

How Can You Transform Bread to Bait for Saltwater Fishing?

As you’d probably find out quickly, you can’t use bread as bait for fishing without some modification. Here are a few things you can do:

Make Bread Punch

In making a bread punch, you’ll need a small tool (that’s also known as a bread punch incidentally) to punch out pieces of bread from a slice. You can find this tool in tackle shops, and it will come in various sizes, allowing you to create different sizes of bread punch for different sizes of hooks.

To make the punch, put a slice of the bread on a clean, flat surface, and then push the bread punch into it. Twist to cut out, and lift the punch to see the piece of bread to use. You can then push your hook through the split in the tool to get the bread on the hook. If you’re preparing the bait at home before leaving for fishing, however, you can store the pieces of bread punch in a Ziploc bag. Don’t forget to separate the sizes for easy sorting when it’s time to use them.

Make Bread Paste

This is as simple as it sounds. You need to get some crumbs of bread, add a drop of water on them, and then roll between your fingers until you get a ball of bread paste. If you do this properly, the result will be a soft but tough paste that can withstand water pressure and make excellent bait on your fishing trip.

All you need is a bit of time, bits of bread, and very little water to make the paste. Once done, you can cut the larger chunks to the size you think is best for the fish you’re targeting and the right size of hook.

Use Bread Flake

The flake on bread is the white and fluffy part of the loaf. You can catch most fish species using this, including the pickiest saltwater species. When going with this option, you need to ensure that the flake’s size matches the size of the hook and the size of the fish you’re targeting. For smaller species, you should use flakes that are big enough to cover hooks that are around sizes 16 to 12.

For larger species, on the other hand, you should go with a size 12. If you have a pack of hooks like this YOTO 120pcs 8299, you can find the exact hook size you need for the fish you’re targeting and then cut out the perfect size of flake to cover it up.

Use Bread Crust

The crust of a loaf is an excellent bait for catching carp and other surface feeding fish. Ideally, you should get the crust from an unsliced loaf to ensure it’s as thick as possible and then put it on a wide gape hook. Again, the size of the crust to cut out will depend on the fish you’re targeting.

Make Bread Mash

This is typically bread and water mixed in a container. Also known as ground bait mash, it is similar to the paste we’ve discussed above, with the main exception being that you need a lot more bread and water to make it work.

You’ll need a loaf or two of sliced or unsliced bread (it doesn’t matter if it’s fresh or stale). Put them into a bucket and pour in some water. Some anglers add some flavoring to the mix, but this isn’t compulsory. Wait for a while for the bread to soak in the water, and then drain the excess water. 

Now, it’s time to turn the bread to a pulp by mashing it up with your fingers. You have to do it properly to ensure the bread is broken up properly. Once you’ve got a smooth mash, your job is done.

You may be wondering how you’ll get the mash onto a hook, but you don’t need to. This type of bread bait is used to attract the fish to your line with the hook (and other types of bread bait we’ve discussed). This is why you need to ensure you have a perfect mash. The fish shouldn’t get fed off this mix, but it should be good enough to attract it to your line.

When you throw the mash into the water, you’ll get a cloud of bread descending into the water. This will cause the fish to swim up to where the particles are congregated (which should be as close to your line as possible). With the bait on your line looking bigger, they’re more likely to see it first and go for it than to continue chasing the evasive bread mash particles.

Using Floating Bread

This approach involves cutting pieces of bread in any style you want (round or molded) and then leaving it out in a tray to dry out naturally. Once dry, you’ll have a crusty piece that will still be soft in the middle. This makes it float longer and will remain on the hook even when you cast over long distances. 

If you ever want to engage in some surface fishing, this is also a bread bait method that can yield fantastic results. The bread will stay afloat on the surface long enough to draw attention.

4 Effective Ways to Put Bread on a Hook

As we’ve touched on above, there are a few ways you can put bread on a hook:

  1. By making it into punch pieces
  2. By making it into paste lumps
  3. By making into crusty pieces
  4. By making semi-dry floating pieces

We’ve covered these options above. Go over them and choose the option that appeals to you the most. Once you’ve got the bread adequately prepared, it’s time for you to get it on the hook.

It’s important to ensure you’re choosing the right hook size for the fish you’re targeting and covering it with the bread properly. In many cases, a size 10 hook covered with the right size of bread piece is enough to catch some mid-sized saltwater fish. You may choose a size 12 if you’re going for smaller fish.

The goal is to make sure the bait appears the perfect size for the fish to nibble on. If it’s too big or too small, the fish will either ignore it or won’t see it.

Important Tips When Using Bread As Bait for Saltwater Fish

  • Avoid fast sinking. You can achieve this by making sure the bread piece isn’t too heavy for the hook. It has to be a near-perfect size or, you’ll lose it within a few seconds of the line hitting the water.
  • Don’t use bread bait around birds. Ducks will love the bread bait if you use it where they are congregated. Other bird species may also help themselves to the feast, so pay attention to the surroundings first before using bread as bait. If there are just too many birds that can pick off the bread before it has left the water surface, you should consider other bait options (covered below).
  • Protect the stash. You have to protect your bread bait, not just from birds and other wildlife, but also from your own mistakes. You don’t want to accidentally knock your pack of bread bait into the water or have it damaged while you’re trying to reel in fish. You should also make sure the pack is adequately protected if the forecast says it’s going to rain.

Other Types of Bait for Saltwater Fishing

We’ve covered most of the important details you need to know about using bread as bait. If you feel it’s not a good idea for you, then you’ll have to explore other options. More conventional saltwater bait may be easier to handle and can lead to a better overall yield. We’ll cover a few of them below:

Bait Fish

There are a few popular bait fish you can use in saltwater fishing. They include ballyhoo, sardines, herrings, eels, mullet, and more. Go through the options and choose any species you can readily find, and set up your rig. Rigging the bait is as simple as passing the hook through the fish’s nose, lips, or eye sockets. You can also pass the hook through the tail of the fish.

You should also note that you don’t have to rig each fish whole. You can cut it up in pieces and rig the hook with sections of the fish. Most game fish will not miss the chance to take a bit at such cuts. You can mix the cut with other types of bait to increase the chances of success.


Crustaceans refer to arthropod animals like crayfish, shrimps, nippers, crabs, prawns, etc. They are found in all marine ecosystems ranging from estuaries to oceans. This makes them one of the most versatile baits you can use for saltwater fishing. However, they work best when you’re targeting carnivorous fish.

If you choose to go with prawns, you need to make sure they are alive or fresh. Otherwise, they’ll be ignored by the target fish. When buying frozen prawns, you need to be as choosy as possible. Those that have darkened around the head or have some form of discoloration are generally low quality. With this information, you should be able to drive a hard bargain if you’d like to use them as bait. Remember, reduced freshness often means lower quality bait.

If you’d like to save money and get fresh prawns, head out to their habitat with a dragnet or scoop at night. When you have a decent catch, you can keep them alive in a bucket of water (aerated). For long term preservation, you should consider freezing them in a container of saltwater. You can also put them in a plastic bag without a lot of air.

Crabs are another popular option you can go with. Gathering them is easier, and you don’t need to pick more than what you need for a fishing session. They become low quality quickly once frozen. Crayfish and lobster tails are another good option you can consider, but they are hard to catch and are pricey in fresh commercial quantity. Still, you should consider them if you have access to a market.

Sea Worms

If you’re going for game fish species like halibut, mackerel, fluke, flounder, Pollock, striped bass, and so on, you’ll find sea worms very useful. You can find them in most bait shops, either live or preserved. They are effective either way. Lugworms, ragworms, and sandworms are all similarly useful in this regard.


Species that qualify as shellfish make good natural bait for saltwater fishing. Mussels, clams, whelks, and conchs are popular examples. If you’re dealing with heavy shell species, you can remove the shellfish’s meat to use it. For those with lighter shells, you can easily crush the shells to make them usable.

Don’t use the larger shellfish as they are. You have to cut them up into smaller chunks to ensure the saltwater gamefish can handle it. With the meat slipped onto the hook, you can go ahead with casting the line.

Octopus and Squid

These are favorites for many saltwater species like sea bass, croakers, amberjack, dolphin, and bluefish. You can use small ones whole, but in most cases, you’ll only be able to get mid-sized options that will require cutting to bits to use on the hook. 

Artificial Lures

You may have seen some of those colorful lures on sale, but you’re probably not sure if they’ll work for saltwater fishing. Interestingly, they work quite well. There are lots of saltwater fish species that will attack artificial lures, including game fish and other shy species. While some of them will get deceived into thinking the lures are real food, others may want to mark their territory.

There are lots of options you can go with when it comes to lures. Dr.Fish 5in Minnow Plugs and Amoygoog Saltwater Fishing Lures are just some examples you can go with. Take a close look at the various options and choose what appeals to you the most—based on factors like the type of fish you’re going after, the size, etc.

A good tip is to combine lures with other types of bait. Some bread or any of the other saltwater baits we’ve talked about thus far, combined with a good artificial lure, can increase your chances of success. The lure will provide the visual attraction, while the other bait will trigger the fish’s sense of smell, increasing its chances of taking a bite.

Final Words

Bread is an excellent option to use as a bait for saltwater fishing. With a little bit of processing, you can use either fresh or stale bread to haul in some fish when next you’re out on the water. The key is to get the pieces of bread in shape for the hook and ensure they’ll last long enough in the water to land a nibble. If you think the preparation processes we’ve discussed above aren’t for you, you can also consider other more conventional bait options we’ve also covered.

If you’re using live fish bait, it’s always a good idea to use a known natural prey of the fish where possible. Where that’s not realistic, you can fall back to the smaller organisms that are bound to draw attention.

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