For novice carp anglers, or those simply trying to improve their catches, navigating the various tactics which can be used to bait up can be somewhat daunting. There are a range of different baiting up tools out there, being able to incorporate them correctly into your fishing game will improve your ability as an angler. Here we run through the main baiting up techniques, what they are, and how and when you would use them.

Spodding

A spod is a rocket-shaped hollow tube, that is open at one end and closed at the pointed end, this missile is covered in holes to allow the contents to exit once it enters the water. Your bait is inserted into the tube – particle baits or a mixture of particle baits, hemp and pellets work best when using a spod. The loaded spod is then attached to the line and cast out; a fully loaded spod will carry some real weight, so a strong line and reel are needed when casting.

A spod

You can bait spots at distance when using a spod, through the use of a line clip on the spool of your reel – when cast, the line catch on the clip allows for accurate baiting. Once the spod lands on top of your desired spot, give it a few seconds to upright itself (as the nose is made from a buoyant material), the bait will then slowly drift towards the bottom, resulting in a large patch of bait spread over an area.

This tactic can be particularly deadly if you are fishing zig rigs (the zig rig features in our article Five Great Carp Rigs). Zig rigs suspend a very buoyant bait at different heights within the water, a spod can partner well with this rig, if it is loaded with a watery spod mix, as it will cloud up the water. This means that the lighter particles of bait will drift slowly or stay suspended in the water, prompting a feeding response from the carp. The idea is that this will then lead to the carp picking up your bait, and you know the rest.

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Spod mixes are a mixture of bait that you want to introduce into your spot. Ideally, the mix will contain some freebies of your chosen hook bait, to get the fish comfortable feeding on it. The contents of a spod mix can range from pellets, boilies, hemp and maize and well as many other baits, all mixed together. By mixing the baits, you can get the fish feeding with confidence, leading to the carp either rooting and grubbing around on the lake/river bed looking for your bait or actively seeking it as it drops or is suspended in the water.

Some anglers prefer to use braid over line when spodding, as they believe the spod casts in a smoother fashion and that the braid reduces tangles. If you decide to use braid instead of line, it is advised that you look to purchase some finger protection to prevent cuts.

What your spod mix should look like

Catapult

Catapults have been around for centuries and must be the most widely used method of baiting up an area. They are a vital tool in many a carp angler’s arsenal. Catapults work well at medium ranges and when the user is somewhat experienced with them, they are very accurate and will result is a well-baited spot. One of the best features of catapults is their versatility, they can be used with a range of different baits and sizes, yet you can still be confident when you place your rig over a baited patch, as the ‘pult’ will normally spread the bait well.

The ‘pult’

Boilies are well suited for catapult use, as they travel well when launched, which means that they can go some distance. Particles can be used in a catapult, but you’ll find the range reduced, as the bait is a lot lighter which causes it to scatter in the wind. The way around this issue is through the use of PVA products. If your swim is close to the edge, then, in theory, you can use loose particle baits with your catapult, but for anything further out you will need to put your particle bait into a PVA webbing bag. This will allow you to hit medium range targets without worrying about the particles not making it. The only downside of this technique is that obviously you need to use a few PVA bags to create a decent spread of bait, which can be expensive.

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When feeding boilies with a catapult, you can feed them in singles for precision, or you can use them in small handfuls (between 3 and 7 boilies). This will allow you to create a baited spot with only a few uses of the catapult, which is very efficient, but less accurate.

Loaded and ready to go

PVA

Poly Vinyl Alcohol, or PVA as it is commonly known, is a water-soluble material that can be found as tape, string, sheets or as a mesh stocking. When it interacts with water, the material quickly disintegrates. This means that when it is used to hold bait, it will leave behind a pile of free bait around your rig and hook.

A range of PVA products

PVA has changed the way that we anglers bait up a swim. Simply tie up a PVA tunnel webbing tube that has your chosen bait inside, attach it to your rig/hook and you can be almost certain that there will be some free bait around your hook to attract fish towards it. As the PVA bag is connected directly to your line, you can pretty much cast it at any distance, which makes it one of the most adaptable ways to bait up an area.

Using a solid PVA bag requires you to use a short rig that is no more than 4 inches in length. The rig is then either used with an inline lead set up or on a lead clip set up, the rig and lead are then carefully placed into the bag. Once the hook set up is positioned inside the bag, the chosen bait is then packed in there as well – the bag is then twisted at the top to make it as aerodynamic as possible. Fishing with this solid PVA bag method gives you the ability to fish in almost any situation, as there are no worries about tangles, as the rig is all neatly tucked away inside the PVA bag. Therefore, this method of baiting up is widely used in areas with many snags, such as weedy lakes.

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PVA tape and string can be used to either tie off solid PVA bags, or to thread five or six boilies which can then be attached to the rig, again, to present the hook bait with some freebies close by. This is can be useful when boilie fishing but can also affect the way that your rig lands, leading to suboptimal presentation if used incorrectly.

Five boilies linked by PVA string

Personally, my favourite form of PVA is PVA funnel webbing. Load your bait into the bag and thread it down your mainline towards the rig, you can actually position it over the hook point. With this method, you can be confident that your hook is well presented, as you know it is covered with free offerings. This is the beauty of PVA, as no matter the situation and location that you are fishing in, if you have some form of PVA with you, you can be sure that there is bait close to your hook.

Throwing Stick

When throwing sticks came onto the market they were seen as a bit of joke by many in the angling community. Since then however, they have been adopted as a key baiting tool by many carp anglers. Made from PVC tubing which has a curve at the top, throwing sticks are intended to be used with boilies.

A throwing stick

The idea is to place a single boilie in the top of the stick and then use a forward throwing motion, without letting go of the stick. The boilie will then fly out the end of the tube and land in the water, from anywhere between 50-200 yards away. It takes a bit of practice to be able to get the bait into the desired location, but after using the stick for a while it will become second nature. Most carp anglers use throwing sticks to create a scattering of boilies across a large area. However, you can put more than one boilie in the stick at once, but this will reduce the distance that you can reach and the landing becomes more unpredictable.

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In action

Bait Boat

A bait boat is essentially a remote-controlled boat with a hopper at its rear that is used to dump its contents – your rig and any freebies/loose feed that you want to use in the area. Bait boats are ideal for positioning your rig in a very precise area, this is often a spot that you would be unable to reach under normal circumstances, because of snags, etc.

A common mistake that people make when using bait boats, is to load up the hoppers to their maximum capacity. By doing this, you offer too much free feed to the fish, which can result in the carp missing your hook bait as they are too busy hoovering up all the freebies. Many carp anglers now put solid PVA bags which hold their rigs into the hoppers, this prevents any tangles when the bait boat releases its hold. Despite being very convenient and easy to use, bait boats come at a significant cost, usually starting at around £599.

Summary

To wrap things up, all of these baiting up tools have a place and being able to use them all appropriately will improve your catches. For me, I always carry at least one PVA product at all times when on the bank, as I find that there is almost always a situation to use it. My throwing stick lives in my rod holdall and is a useful tool when feeding boilies to a spot that is a significant distance away. The catapult is probably my second most used baiting tool though, just for its versatility. I don’t use spods that much, again this is all personal preference, just because I don’t use particles as a baiting option all that much.

It is worth getting out there and experimenting with all of these tools to find your personal preference for various situations. Enjoy!

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