My previous writings about pop-up crust mullet baits in NMC's Grey Ghost magazine and on my blog here seem to have attracted some interest both back in the UK and in Ireland. I started some new experiments with the technique last autumn. In an ideal world I'd have liked some firmer conclusions but some particularly poor winter weather limited progress and now the covid travel restrictions look set to reduce my leger opportunities severely till at least 20th July ... so I thought I'd get on and share some thoughts now.
The new developments all revolve around this. It is called Mosella Magic Bread. I've had mine unused for several years, since back when it was widely available. Looking around it seems much scarcer these days, though I see one or two outlets are still selling it - it may well have been discontinued but I notice there's a similar or identical product called Sensas Paindor available now. It comes in "natural" white colour like my Mosella loaf and also coloured yellow or red.
The Magic Bread comes plastic-wrapped and is completely dessicated; in this state it lasts for years. It crumbles to dust under any attempt to cut it with a knife, but you can cut pieces off using mono line with a slight sawing action like a cheese wire. Then it needs to be reconstituted in water. Once reconstituted it is soggy but incredibly tough. It's very difficult to tear but you can now cut it up into bait sized pieces with sharp scissors.
I first tried Magic Bread a decade or more ago, at Christchurch. It wasn't a successful trial. I don't remember catching much on it, though in fairness it was early in the season there and I wasn't catching much on normal bread baits either. Biggest problem I had with it was bait presentation - yes it stayed on the hook wonderfully well but it tended to settle into a soggy lump on the hook bend. Anyway my old spaniel cut my experimentation short when he got into the garage, raided my tackle bag and ate both the natural and red loaves I'd been using!
I bought another loaf but never got round to using it and eventually I more-or-less forgot about it.
My interest was reawakened last season when my friend Steve Tierney started talking about his experiments with bait bands and normal bread baits - could bands offer a way of presenting the Magic Bread effectively?
Steve recommended latex bands and I found these ones by Gardner Tackle. I bought a couple of sizes but the smaller 3.2mm ones seem right for the size of crust bait I like.
I also bought a "pellet bander" tool for opening up the bands. The one I got is made by Preston Innovations and is shown in the photos below.
The other thing that occured to me was that there was no need to stop at using water to reconstitute the Magic Bread.
Any liquid would do and at the time I had a bottle of Dynamite Baits' Liquid Krill for adding a bit of extra zing to my groundbait.
Why not use this to soften the Magic Bread? It would give a bait thoroughly impregnated with the krill flavour in a way you could never do with normal crust, because it would come off the hook on the cast or when hitting the water if wet.
So to take fishing I cut a few chunks off the Magic Bread loaf with nylon line and put them into a small plastic tub (with a tight-fitting lid) to steep in the Liquid Krill. Not much is needed for a session.
I cut off a piece of crust about this size as a single bait using nail scissors, and trim off most but not all of the flake.
Then I open up a bait band using the pellet bander...
... and fold or roll the crust to insert it into the band. The band is allowed to contract and at the same time the prongs of the pellet bander are teased out.
The hook is put in under the band. The hook point must be left clear, because unlike normal crust this one won't be coming off the hook on the take or strike.
A Magic Bread crust bait popped up in the shallows.
The biggest advantage of the Magic Bread crusts is their durability. They won't be washed off the hook by wave action in shallow water as (I think) can happen with normal crust. You can have a few winds of the reel handle occasionally to move the bait and possibly stimulate a take, without worrying about the crust coming off. Small fish and shrimps will eventually whittle the bait away, if they're present, but it takes them a long time. Typically I can get four or five casts out of the same bait, repositioning the hook each time before casting. I've even had more than one fish on a single bait - the photo is the first mullet I had last autumn on the Magic Bread crust, and as you can see the bait is still intact.
As I said, my trials were cut short over the winter and haven't been able to resume since. I had been fishing Magic Bread pop-ups on one rod alongside normal crust on the other, on identical rigs. My first impressions were that I was getting more takes on the Magic Bread crust, possibly hooking a smaller proportion, but overall a net win. I'd think the more takes is down to a combination of the survivability of the bait and the krill attractant but I think sometimes the crust chokes the hook instead of coming off as normal crust would, leading to missed takes. If you miss a take it's worth leaving the line out there for a minute or two: you'll still have a bait on and a feeding fish in the vicinity.
I may be able to add more later this year, but for now here's my best fish so far on the Magic Bread, 5lb 9oz ...