Bread Flies
  |  First Published: December 2006

One of the best things about fly tying is the ability to copy a broad array of food sources from baitfish, insect, crustacean and cephalopod patterns to the more unusual and less popular weed and bread flies. Virtually anything that a fish may want to eat can be imitated with an artificial offering good enough to trick even the wariest fish. This month we will look at two extremely simple bread fly patterns that can be tied with a minimum of tools and materials.

Many species of fish can be tempted into taking a bread fly. Around the canals and harbours along our coastline, many fish will readily eat bread after being hand fed by the many people who inhabit and visit these areas. In systems such as the Gold Coast Canals, residents regularly feed the bream with bread pieces from their pontoons, many at a regular time each day. It doesn’t take long for the various fish species to become conditioned to returning to that exact pontoon each day for their regular meal.

The freshwater lakes, where people regularly feed the resident ducks, have also seen bread flies working well. You can bet that species such as freshwater mullet, gar and carp aren’t too far away. They will clean up any of the scraps the ducks and turtles miss and as a result can be tempted into eating a bread fly that is tied and presented well. Some of the species that I have taken on bread flies include mullet, gar, luderick, bream, milkfish, spangled perch, carp, catfish, eel and sooty grunter.


When using bread flies, many anglers will berley with bread to get the target species in a feeding mood. The type of bread that you use will determine the best type of bread fly. If the bread is stale then you will find that it lands on the water, floats for a short time and then soaks up water gradually until it starts to sink. The best type of fly to use in this instance is the Glo-bug yarn pattern, which will sink in a similar way. It can be treated with a small amount of floatant for longevity. Some anglers tie bread flies out of deer or antelope hair so that they float high for an extended period. I find that these work, but are hard in texture and many fish push them away as they try to eat them. The Glo-bug yarn fly is a lot softer and more natural looking in the water.

The second fly we tie this month is the chenille bread fly. This pattern works well when you are using really fresh bread, which compacts easily as you break bits off and has a lot less air trapped inside which allows it to sink as soon as it hits the water. The chenille fly’s sink rate is similar to this but it can be treated with a little floatant to decrease its sink rate if necessary.

Another approach when berleying with bread and using bread flies is to make the bread copy the sink rate of the fly. If your fly sinks fast, compact or squeeze the bread into a tight ball similar in size to your fly so that it sinks as soon as it hits the water. The general technique is to throw out a few pieces of bread and then lay out the bread fly on a floating line with a long leader (often dressed with floatant or line-coat) into the general area. You won’t need to strip or do anything other than watch it like a hawk. A sharp eye and a fast hand will see a solid hook-up.


The two materials I use for our two bread fly patterns are Glo-bug yarn and fluorescent chenille (both in white of course). Other chenilles such as rayon, vernille and suede can also be used.

Glo-bug yarn substitutes could include Hi-Vis, Neer Hair and several different dubbings. I think the Glo-bug yarn is an ideal material for this purpose as it has attributes that make it easy to tie with and great for imitating the sink rate of several-day-old bread.

I usually use white flat-waxed nylon thread but any white threads could be used so long as they can tie down the materials with good tight wraps. I use bronze hooks over nickel, stainless, vanadium or tinned hooks, even though they will rust quicker. They are generally less conspicuous in the water and there is a greater array of patterns, wire thickness and sizes to choose from. Most have been designed for trout flies but they work well for bread flies as well. I mainly use dry fly or Glo-bug hook patterns and have tied bread flies in sizes 8 to 20.

MATERIALS for glo-bug

HOOK: Black Magic pattern E #12

BODY: Tiewell Glo-bug yarn (white)

THREAD: Flat waxed nylon (white)

TYING A Glo-bug Bread Fly

(1) Position hook in vice and attach thread with a jamb knot or similar.

(2) Wind the thread down to about half way along the hook shank. Cut a small length of Glo-bug yarn about the same length as the hook and hold it lengthways along the hook shank. Do a loose wrap with the thread around the middle of it and then a few tight ones on the same position. The Glo-bug yarn will flare slightly.

(3) Push the front of the Glo-bug yarn back and then attach another similar portion of it in front of the last and tie down tightly. Whip finish at this point.

(4) Trim the Glo-bug yarn so that there is a few millimetres of clearance between the hook point and the bottom of the fly and it is roughly an oval shape. Don’t get too carried away with the trimming, as the bread it imitates will not be uniform in shape either. Don’t apply any head cement or similar as the smell can taint the fly and it will soak into and harden the Glo-bug yarn.

MATERIALS for chenille bread fly

HOOK: Black Magic pattern E #12

BODY: Flourescent chenille (white)

THREAD: Flat waxed nylon (white)

TYING A Chenille Bread Fly

(1) Attach the thread with a jamb knot or similar behind the eye of the fly and wrap back along the shank until you are near the bend of the hook. Tie in the end of your chenille at that point.

(2) Wrap the thread back up to the eye of the hook and let the bobbin hang there. Palmer (wrap) the chenille forward with each wrap next to the last, until you are up to the eye of the fly. Tie off the end of the chenille with your thread and whip finish it there before cutting free the remaining chenille.

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