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How to Make Dough Balls for Fishing [The Complete Recipe]

How to Make Dough Balls for Fishing [The Complete Recipe]
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If you have ever been to a river and found someone throwing bread into the river, you might have noticed a school of fishes coming around to eat the bread.

Think about it!

If bread can attract fishes, how much success can dough balls achieve? A lot! Dough balls specifically attract carp and catfish, and can also lure in other types of sunfish. It is true that fishes are easily lured to live bait. However, carp and catfish are examples of fish that can eat anything they find because their diets are varied. 

How to Make Dough Balls for Fishing — Ingredients + Recipe

Dedicated fishermen know that one of the best ways to catch fishes is to use dough balls as bait. They have always been time-honored baits for fishing. The traditional dough balls are made with soft, white bread rolled into ball shapes, and then soaked with something smelly like sardine juice or bacon grease. 

Buy this Sardine Bait Oil on Amazon

Irrespective of the recipe you use, remember that the major ingredient in a dough ball is the dough itself and you can choose to use either leavened or unleavened dough to make the balls. 

1. The leavened dough rises through fermentation or with the help of a leavening agent like baking soda or baking powder. The most common leavening agent used to make a leavened dough is yeast.

To ferment a dough, you can use the sponge method where you leaven a batch of dough first and then add it to the remaining dough. Alternatively, you can ferment dough by mixing all the ingredients including the leavening agent together, then you can leave the mixture to rise normally.

2. The unleavened dough does not rise, it always stays thin. So, you won’t need to add any leavening agent to the mixture.

We will be using unleavened dough for the recipe in this article.

Ingredients for Making Dough Balls for Fishing

  • ½ cup of water
  • ½ cup of flour
  • ½ cup of any flavoring of your choice e.g. Jell-O powder
  • ½ cup of cornmeal
  • Food coloring (if you like)

Materials needed

  • Pot
  • Stove
  • Wooden spoon
  • Mixing bowl
  • Freezer bag

Let’s get into it!

How to make dough balls for fishing
Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay

Recipe for Making Dough Balls for Fishing

Step 1: Mix your flour, cornmeal, and Jell-O powder.

Pour your flour, cornmeal, and jell-O powder into the clean mixing bowl and mix them together with the wooden spoon.

Step 2: Add some water.

Slowly add your water into the mixture of flour, cornmeal, and Jello powder. As you add your water, turn the mixture slowly. Make sure the mixture is not too watery. If it is, you can add more flour. Stop only when the mixture becomes a sticky dough texture.

If you have any form of food coloring, you can add it to the mixture at this point.

Step 3: Mold the dough balls.

You may choose to form the dough balls before you go fishing or take the dough with you to the fishing spot and make them just before you start fishing. Either way, the dough balls should not be too big or too small for your fish hook. 

Buy this Dough Bait Mold on Amazon

Step 4: Refrigerate the dough.

This is where the freezer bag comes in. If you decide to make the dough balls and store them till your next fishing adventure, then put your dough the molded balls into a freezer bag, and put it in the refrigerator. When the time comes to use them to fish, leave them to defrost in the refrigerator then you can finally use them as fish bait. 

Very important: If you boiled your dough balls first, do not put them directly in the refrigerator. Rather, leave them to cool before refrigerating or freezing them.

How to Use Dough Balls for Fishing

To use dough balls as fish bait, ensure that your fish hook is completely hidden inside the dough ball. Form the dough ball around your hook until it reaches up to where your hook meets the line.  

Here’s are the detailed steps on how to use dough balls as bait:

  • Put a slip sinker over your mainline and tie it to a snap swivel.
  • Get a leader that is long enough (about 10-12 inches) to get the bait to the swivel.
  • At the end of the leader, there should be a small hook.
  • Pick up a dough ball and cover the hook with it.
  • Then, cast out the rig to let the sinker fall to the bottom.
  • Reel in the slackline and wait until a fish comes to take the dough ball as bait.
  • Use a slip sinker to pass the line through the sinker as the fish begins to take the bait to prevent the fish from feeling the weight of the sinker. 
Check out this box of fishing sinkers on Amazon

Benefits of Using Dough Balls for Fishing

  1. They are quick and easy to put on a hook.
  2. They come in different flavors and scents.
  3. They do not make a lot of mess compared to worms.
  4. They are easy to store.

What Could Go Wrong With Using Dough Balls for Fishing?

The only problem with using dough balls for fishing is how to keep them from disintegrating immediately they touch the water. The best way to avoid this is to boil your dough balls in a pot of water for about a minute before you go fishing. 

Boiling the dough balls will help them retain their shape and prevent them from disintegrating. If you do not like the idea of boiling them before your fishing trip, you can microwave them for about thirty seconds. It is very important that your fishing bait holds together; long enough until you catch a fish.

Other Food Items That Can Be Used as Bait for Catching Fish


This fishing bait is quite simple, and also a very common one. Bread is the oldest fishing bait that is still very effective. It can be used as hook bait and ground bait too. If you use it correctly, you might not be needing any other kind of bait for fishing. 


This is also a very common fishing bait among anglers. An added advantage when using cheese is that it does not really matter the type of cheese you use as fishes are not quite selective when it comes to dairy products. However, if you ever plan to use cheese, focus more on the strong-smelling ones and use them.


Corn is a very cheap but effective fishing bait. It is mainly used in freshwater. It can be used to get different species of fish from trout to sunfish. The best part of this fishing bait is that it can lure big fishes. So, if you know a river with really big fishes, corn might just be the right bait for you.


These have always been used as fishing bait by fishermen. It is most likely that all freshwater fish will feast on this particular bait to other ones. However, they have the tendency to float as their air content is relatively high.


Peas are also very good fishing bait, especially if you plan to catch carps. They are high in protein and fiber. Moreover, many fishes (mostly carps and big fishes) like them. 

Pet Food 

If you plan to catch bottom-feeding fish, the pet food might just be the bait you have been looking for. They lure baitfish and are also good to lure other species of fish. But in all, they are the most effective for bottom-feeding fish.

Semolina balls

Semolina balls are also very popular. Like dough balls, they are very good when it comes to luring almost all freshwater fish. In fact, in some cases, semolina balls could be more effective than dough balls.

Check out these other articles and guides on Zimfishing:


Dough balls are definitely the perfect bait to catch different fishes. However, they attract some species of fish better than others. So, before you begin to make your dough balls, make sure you consider the type of fish that you want to catch.

Some species of fish like the catfish, carp, bluegill, and crappie will be glad to feast on dough balls.

Thankfully, dough balls are quite easy to make. They also require ingredients that can be purchased locally and easily.

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