I think that of all the different methods of bait application, spodding is the one that causes the most problems to a lot of anglers. I remember years ago, when I first started experimenting with spods, I hated it as it just seemed such hard work and nothing ever went where I wanted it.
Nowadays I can easily spod far further than I can cast a baited rig and I find it the very best method of delivering bait tightly at range, particularly if there are seagulls around.
The first thing you need is the correct equipment as spodding really is a method onto itself and you cannot just ‘make do’ with an old beach-caster or stiff carp rods that happens to be laying around in the garage, a purpose built rod such as the Airflo Delta XS Spod rod will be ideal.
The reel has to be a quality piece of kit that will withstand all the hard work and abuse and have a decent spool size and retrieve ratio, a bit pit reel will perform the best and it should be loaded with floating braid, this is because it can cast further and also, because it floats, it is easier to flick the spod across the surface on the retrieve whereas a sinking mono will drag the open end of the spod downwards, under the surface where you don’t want it.
Its imperative to use a shock-leader, the pressure you will exert on the line is tremendous and normal braid or line will snap like cotton. I use something around forty five pounds and also braided although, to be fair, thick mono is a lot kinder on your finger but I like the way the braid comes off the spool myself.
To cut down on the damage you can do to your finger tips a simple finger stool from a tackle shop will help.
Once you have the spool fully loaded and leader attached it’s easiest to tie a strong snap-link of some kind to the end, this way you can easily swap spod types but, more importantly, you can pack the rod away without having to either cut the spod off or try and cram it into a rod holdall or sleeve.
The actual casting of a spod requires a different type of action to normal casting, not just by the rod but also by the angler as well. The trick is to build up resistance to the spod before pushing into the actual speed part of the cast, it’s a slower cast altogether relying on the weight of the spod to compress the rod in the early stages and then the tip speed to do the final launch, but it’s very important to load the rod right up during the build up.
There are many different types, shapes and weights of spods so pick the one that will get the correct distance with the least effort and carry enough bait to cut down on casting time.
Sometimes you can get away with a monster spod even at range and sometimes you will need to be more streamlined, I always have a big selection and try a few until I am happy I have the right one for the job.
The most important thing to avoid is ‘spod wobble’ this will dramatically reduce the distance and completely destroy your accuracy and this one factor is where most people who give up trying were going wrong in the first place. Incorrect loading of the spod is nearly always the reason for this, too much weight at the back of the spod and it tries to overtake the front, resulting in your spod flying through the air with all the grace of a bag of spanners!
The front of a spod is buoyant, therefore it’s light, so you need to compensate by leaving a gap in the top/back of the spod rather than filling it right up. Also, if you have different fillings then put a handful of the densest one (like pellet) in the spod first. If you imagine a line cutting the spod in half lengthways, then the front half has to be heavier than the rear or it simply will not work.
Once you have your correct spod and you can comfortably hit the range then you need to use the line clip to ensure you don’t overcast and to help slow the spod in flight, reducing the amount of noise it makes as it hits the surface. By hitting the clip in the air you can stop the spod above the water and simply lower it down onto the surface, nice and quietly, well, by comparison to just letting it smash into the water anyway.
Boilie rockets are also a kind of spod and you will find that a rocket filled with boilies will go a tremendous distance but, a little tip, always fill the rocket to the very brim with water after loading it, as this will stop you loosing a couple of precious baits on the cast. Without the water one or two will drop out at about twenty yards range, increasing the amount of casting you will have to do and scattering loose baits all over the swim.
Bait loss or ‘spod spill’ as it is known happens with all types of spod but it is so easily rectified, ensuring all your bait ends up exactly where you want it. Just mix up a bowl of groundbait in to a very light, fluffy and only just damp consistency and lightly press a ‘plug’ into the top of the spod before casting. As long as you don’t ram the groundbait in there or have a mix like concrete you will find that it falls out instantly on contact with the water.
Another common problem is retrieving the spod to find half the bait still inside it, either that or seeing it flying out as you bounce the spod back across the surface and this is usually down to one of two things.
Firstly you should test a fully loaded spod in the margins to see just how long it actually takes for it to empty out, it may be longer than you think, also if you are casting at range and there is a wind on the water you need to ensure that the line from the rod tip is totally slack as any drag on the line can keep the spod on it’s side, drastically increasing the ‘emptying time’.
The second reason for bringing back bait is incorrect loading, especially with boilies and full round boilies can be a nightmare for ‘locking up’ against each other in the spod.
Try either breaking the boilies up a bit into random pieces or adding pellets to them, filling the gaps and keeping the baits apart or, even better, break some, leave some whole and mix them all with the dry pellets in a bucket and just scoop the lot in by the handful.
Either way it still helps to give the spod a little tweak, bouncing it a bit before letting it have a second chance at dropping its load before winding in.
For particle baits such as hemp, spod mixes of seeds etc, sloppy mixes and smaller items you will not be able to use a spod with large holes in it but, rather than have too many variations in your tackle box, simply wind some electrical tape around the holes, mainly at the bottom of the spod and this will keep it all in nicely. The fewer holes you have then the more resistance you are likely to encounter when you try to break the surface on the retrieve but, once it’s up on the top, you can keep it there by holding the rod tip as high as possible and winding like a madman.
Spodding isn’t only about smashing out bait at massive range though; small spods can be used really effectively at close quarters, like a bait dropper really. Baiting small holes in the weed, overhanging bushes, little gravel marks or just a nicely presented package of bait at close quarters can all be achieved with a small spod on a normal rod and sometimes as little as an underarm flick. It’s so much more accurate at say, thirty yards, to drop a little spod of hemp in a hole than it is to spray it everywhere with a catapult.
All in all there are many different uses for a spod and I always carry a set up with me, I don’t always use it regardless though, often you can scare off fish that were otherwise extremely catchable. Like all parts of carp fishing it’s a case of picking the right tool for the job in hand and this will change from day to day and from lake to lake but, if you do find the need to spod, hopefully employing some of the above methods will make the job a bit easier for you.