Monday, 21 September 2015

Warwickshire Stour – Ruddy Waters and the Lesney Bread Bait Press.

I just happened to stumble upon this object at a tabletop sale at a local fete, at first I thought it looked an ideal alternative to the naughty step but then I read the lettering on the side. A couple of quid handed over to the rather buxom seller and it was mine, now I knew nothing about it but recognised the name on the side, Lensey from when I was an ankle biter and the colours looked very familiar.

So without a box or instructions I did a bit of lunch hour research….

Lesney Products and Co. Ltd was founded in 1947 by as an industrial die-casting company, their order book was very much up and down however a chance order to make some parts for a toy gun their fortunes changed as when there was a downturn in the market requirement and the company was on a go slow they decided to start making die cast model toys, the first being a road roller similar to the industry leader Dinky’s model. Probably their biggest milestone was the switching to a smaller model road roller that fitted within a replica matchbox, this lead to worldwide, mass market success and what they are most famous for the ‘matchbox’ series of toys.

They didn’t just make toys either, so one of their many spin-offs was in 1954 they launched the ‘Lesney Bread Bait Press’ which was sold and distributed exclusively through Milbournes a tackle shop in Holloway in London. It was designed and realised by Jack Odell who worked there, he was a keen angler on the canals and rivers of North London area. After a year with mediocre sales they launched the second version, removed the Milbo from the die and then allowed everyone else to sell it. It sold pretty well after that.

There are 3 parts to the press, the frame, the butterfly screw and the die. The die has two halves with a pin in each to create the hook hole.

Instructions for Use

Peel off the crust from a sliced loaf, leaving three eights of an inch of bread on the crust (9.5mm). Place bread in the Bait Press and screw down. This will give you two pellets of crust ready with a hole for your hook. On entering the water this will quickly swell to the size of a sugar cube. If a larger piece of bait is required fold the length of crust in two before placing in press.
‘Perfect satisfaction every time’ 

So gadget or gimmick….? Now I couldn’t find any pictures about actually using it, I’m not going to give up on the Jeff Hatt off of Idlers Quest my way with bread folded punch disc method just yet, so is it a worthy addition to ones tackle box or a useful thumbscrew and torture device ?

Only one way to find out….

At this time of year ( the end of summer) the diminutive Stour looks ideal as a Rudd habitat, it’s clear, clean and in many places very much overgrown, there are reeds and cabbages in abundance and the thick weed growth providing those that reside within its waters a natural and conveyor belt of food. It’s my kind of river too as much of its length hardly sees an angler and it meanders through picturesque and tranquil Warwickshire countryside. It’s as close to a Fenland drain as me as a Warwickshire worm whisperer is ever likely to see. It’s been really low of late but a recent few days of rain its levels are up a gnats nadger. Despite catching fish off the top in many of the local rivers I’m yet to catch a Rudd, do they exist in the flowing water of Warwickshire ?

I’m sure they do…, but where….?

I’ve only really fished the Stour in the winter months for Roach and Chub so I didn’t really know what to expect for this session. Travelling light features in most of my fishing these days so the rod was my TFG river and stream donned with a centrepin, a small waist bait bag, a small landing net and a loaf of Warburton’s blue for bait. A small piece of Lesney pressed bread on the hook was suspended under a small loaded puddle chucker, I’d fish this either on the surface or a small shot would naturally drop it through the water if I couldn’t find any surface feeding fish. I watched the weather like us Brits do and waited for a warm(ish) day with a clear sky. Another piece of important tackle was my cocoons so I could hopefully spot some fish, the clarity of the Stour can vary so much from day to day but it's an important tool in my armory. Feed was liquidised bread with a few bits of hemp. The glass test showed the bread swelled up nicely and double folding the bread even more so. Hopefully it would stay on the hook as well as the folded disk method.

If Rudd were being elusive (or if they just aint there) I’m sure a Roach or two would do.

For those that haven’t fished the Stour, the fish really are in stunning condition, the Chub especially, even 3lbers haven’t a mark on them, scale perfect and bright silver. Every fishable swim will have fish and this session was no exception, there are plenty of minnows though and they will still drag under a reasonably weighty puddle chucker. I probably fished 7 or 8 swims with Chub from every one, the Roach were there too with most around the 3 to 4oz range however the largest went 12oz’s, again in pristine condition. The biggest Chub went 3lb 4oz and gave a cracking scrap on light tackle. The bread press, was definitely a gimmick though, far too much faff to be honest and it was no better than tearing some bread off, folding it and pinching it together. It didn’t appear to be more minnow resistant either as they would have it off the hook pretty easily. Far too time consuming really for no real benefit.

So my verdict, a GIMMICK !!!

I like the area of the Stour I fish because it’s off the beaten track, so much so went I got home I realised I’d dropped my camera so went back, retraced my steps and found it. I bet it hasn’t seen an angler in weeks. The half decent Roach got me interested in this little river again and I’ll revisit here in the winter. Oh and the Rudd, nowhere to be seen.


  1. Can't imagine using it in the depths of winter! I suppose it was designed for making compressed crust on the fly from tin loafs? I know bread anglers used to go to great lengths to prepare similar at home.

    1. Yeah it's exactly that Jeff and to be honest for that purpose it does it's job well.

  2. They didn't have bread like Warburtons in those days. Just proper man's bread! Must have been tough...

  3. I had one in 1970 when I got married, stay with me here, I'd persuaded my wife that a honeymoon in Ringwood would be great and we could have idyllic picnics while we fished. Anyway she started legering with bread pressed in the bread press and she caught her first roach, 2lb 6oz rapidly followed by two more of 1lb 12oz and 1lb 9oz. We're still married and she still reminds me about it at every opportunity.


    1. Sounds like a cracking day that and to top it off with some big Roach :)

  4. Oh, I forgot, she still has the bread press! John


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