Spod On! - with Michael Koester
Well-respected big-carp angler Michael Koester shows us how he effectively carries out marker-float and spod work. If done properly it WILL help you catch more carp…
Many waters these days have banned bait boats and rowing boats for whatever reason. So how do you introduce bait and find that lovely, silty trough or shallow gravelly spot that produces many carp without an Echo sounder? For me, out comes the marker float rod and spod rod. Don’t be fooled that you’re going to be left with a huge hole in your pocket, though, because you can pick up the correct kit for less than the price of a bait boat these days. Anyway, let me explain some useful tips that will help you crack the puzzle of spodding and markering. Trust me, if you pinpoint that spot and spod accurately to it, you WILL catch more carp.
A marker rod with a stiff tip will help you no end in feeling the vibrations of the lake bed. It also enables you to cast at long distances as long as you couple it with the correct reel, main line and float setup. I like to use braided line on my reel due to the extra sensitivity that you feel through the rod. Braid has no stretch compared to monofilament and therefore indicates vibrations, twitches and bumps through the rod at lot more effectively. A braid with a thin diameter also casts better than monofilament enabling you to cover, and search, more of the water and lake bed. Berkley Whiplash and Fireline are superb braids for this.
The end tackle on the marker float is kept simple and I incorporate the Korda Marker Kit for this because it includes literally everything you need for an ultra-effective marker setup – a float, marker stem, probe lead and beads. Firstly, I place the Marker Stem and Probe lead onto my main line. The Marker Stem features an air injected contraption that holds the float above any bottom debris, allowing it to rise to the surface every time, even in the heaviest of weed. The Probe lead is also great for sending the correct signals to the rod tip due to its unique shape. I finally add a bead and follow this with the marker float. The bead basically buffers the swivel and protects it from going over the top.
It’s all very well casting out the float to the designated area but if you can’t identify the type of lake bed you’re fishing over then what’s the point? It’s absolutely imperative that you understand the different feels and vibrations of certain types of lake bed such as how to differentiate the difference between silt, gravel, sand, clay and weed. This will come with experience but hopefully I can shed some light.
I research the lake bed in a specific way every time, fanning my casts from left to right until I pinpoint the area I want to fish. I cast the marker nice and high and feel the lead down to the lake bed. I do this by holding the rod high,keeping a tight line between the rod and lead by placing my index finger on the spool. If the lead lands with what I call a ‘donk’ it is probably on hard terrain such as gravel. However, if it lands soft or with no thud at all, it may be in deep silt or weed. Once you have an idea of what you have landed on pull the rod tip back slowly at a 90 degree angle, feeling the lead as it is retrieved. If the tip jags from side to side very quickly and pulls back with ease you have hit gravel. It will feel very jaggedy as the lead pulls through the small gravel particles and stones.
Gravel can be a good spot to try because your rig presentation will lie flat and everything will be free to hook the fish. However, it can be a little blatant at times, especially if it’s a huge gravelly area. Carp may be able to identify the color of the rig and lead setup on overly clear lake beds so bear this in mind. Maybe try one rod in silt, one on gravel and the other on sand. You can then use trial and error to discover which one is most successful.
If the lead simply pulls back smoothly and is easy to retrieve it may be on very light silt.
It’s not easy to judge the difference between light silt and sand but both can be very effective. Deeper, more choddier silt will clog the lead up slightly and plug. This will indicate slightly more resistance but pull over with relative ease as the lead is pulled out. Chod and silt can be very good to fish over as they hold large abundances of natural food such as bloodworm.
Nevertheless, if the float locks up completely and you find it tricky to pull back you will have no doubt hit weed. It can be a great spot to find a clear area among weed or even on the edge of it because it provides food and cover. With experience you can also identify the types of weed that you’re fishing over. If you cast into Canadian pondweed and feel the lead down it will donk but on the retrieve will lock up. This is because it grows off the bottom in long strands. Conversely, if you cast into silkweed you won’t feel the lead hit the bottom. It will land softly but be easier to pull back. This is due to the way that silkweed grows. It covers the bottom of the lake like a large carpet. You can present a bait on top of the silkweed, though. A pop-up is the most effective way of doing this on a chod rig etc.
Once you have felt the lead and selected an area that you wish to target, it’s time to pop up the lead and gauge the depth. Some marker rods have a depth gauge but many don’t so it can be a good idea to mark a foot length on your rod with Tippex. Anyway, slowly peel line off of your spool a foot at a time until the float rises to the surface. Count how many feet it takes for it to pop up and this will indicate the depth you’re fishing over. Always minus a foot, though, to take the height of the Marker Stem into account. Once you get the hang of it you’ll be doing it with ease.
There are a whole host of methods to introduce free offerings but many are inaccurate and purely short-range tactics. For example, the catapult is fantastic for introducing boilies and large baits at close to medium range. However, it’s completely useless for introducing particles or pellets. Then there’s the throwing stick. Once again, this is great for introducing large, whole boilies but inadequate for pellets, liquids or particles. Yes, there is the electronic bait boat or rowing boat but what do you do on waters where they are banned? Well, I spod and it is a huge string to my bow because many anglers simply can’t do it effectively.
At one stage there was the argument that spodding gear is too expensive and that buying a designated rod and reel for the job wasn’t worth it. However, Korda now produce a Mini Skyliner, that can be used with a normal, all-round rod and reel setup so there is no excuses.
I do recommend that you purchase a proper spod rod and reel on large, windswept waters, though. Spod rods tend to be stiffer in the tip for punching 4oz, 5oz or even 6oz weights at distances. You will be needing a powerful reel too that features reliable cranking power. Bait is bound to fall into the reel at some point so you need something reliable that will withstand abuse. It’s also a good idea to purchase one with a large spool. This maximises the distance that you’re able to cast and also allows you to add braided main line. Always ensure that you can cast your spod as far as your marker, though. It’s pointless finding a lovely, silty trough full of bloodworm if you can’t cast any bait to it.
There are many spods on the market these days to suit all requirements. I tend to opt for one of three depending on the circumstances that I’m faced with. If I fish a small, intimate water that only requires a short cast of up to 50yrd I willchoose a Mini Skyliner. It lands on the water quietly, due to its small shape, and also holds a generous amount of bait. If I want to introduce bait in large quantities on a bigger water I’ll opt for the Skyliner MK11. Finally, for maximum distance and accuracy, I feel that you can’t get any better than the Skyraider. It’s aerodynamic shape means that you can literally bait to the horizon.
When spodding it’s very important to stand in the same position every cast and clip up. In other words, cast the spod to the marker float and place the line in the clip to ensure that it hits the same mark every time. You’ll also be needing a shockleader because 5oz of lead can cause lots of resistance on your line on the cast, especially if you’re giving it a huge whack! Learn how to tie a good, strong leader knot by taking a look at the sequence.
Spodding is all about routine so prepare yourself because it can be demanding on your body and especially your finger. Consequently, get yourself a fingerstall or thin golf glove to protect your finger. Cast the spod in a flowing movement towards your chosen mark and feather it down to the surface. This prevents it pounding against the clip, which will cause disturbance and at worst may even crack off. It also reduces the chance of the spod bouncing back out of position. One little tip to ensure that it flies through the air straight is to fill it three quarters of the way. This ensures that the majority of the weight is towards the nose of the spod and prevents it wobbling through the air, which could cause it to veer off at an angle.
Spodding allows you to introduce a variety of different baits whether that be small ones, big ones – literally anything, You can even introduce liquids for maximum attraction in the water but next to no food content. This can be mega effective in the winter when they’re not feeding hard. I spod liquids by taping up the holes of the spod with electrical tape so it doesn’t spill out on the cast. I then plug the end of the spod with some groundbait. I’m a big fan of spodding liquids because they’re mega attractive and cloud up the water column.
When I spod I always like to clip up behind the marker float so that the bait flutters through the water onto the spot rather than in front of it. You have to take the depth into account. I also do this so that the fish are approaching my hook bait behind the end tackle a bit like a food trail. The last thing I want is for the carp to be feeding over my end tackle because they’ll spook should they feel an alien shape on the bottom.
I hope that this feature helps you and shows just how effective spodding can be. Take a look at some of the fish I have caught using the method and it will certainly open your eyes. Get on the spod folks and good luck!
Carpe Diem, a carp a day.
See more spodding tips and my spod mix recipes from Michael.