Baiting Up Tools for Specimen Carp Fishing – How, When and Why.
By Alan Stagg
Bait and baiting is a critical aspect of targeting big carp. Knowing when to bait, what to bait with, how to introduce it and how much bait to put in is always the hardest decision to make whilst on the bank. As always it is extremely advantageous to be in touch with your water, knowing what has been caught recently and how the fish are behaving. However not all of us are fortunate to have this information available to us on a regular basis, particularly if we only visit a venue very occasionally or perhaps for the first time.
Introducing large beds of bait when carp are not feeding hard can be detrimental to your own angling, and to others fishing the water at the same time as you. However, the best possible potential of an area will not be realized if we introduce too little as you run the risk of not attracting numbers of fish into your area. Sometimes it can be beneficial to start a session adopting a softly approach and gauge the fish’s reaction before baiting heavily – you can’t take it out if you have over baited, but you can always add more if circumstances dictate.
So what items to carp anglers have available to them to introduce bait and how best are they used in practice?
Catapults need little or no introduction to most anglers. Over the ages they have allowed anglers an easily mastered and extremely accurate means of firing out all manner of baits. They are available in a large number of styles and sizes, and depending upon their intended use will have different power elastics and pouches that are designed to work with specific bait types, from particles and boilies through to 40mm feeding balls, and at different ranges.
They are an absolutely essential item in all anglers baiting equipment, and with a small amount of practice offer us an accurate and quick method of firing bait out. With a powerful catapult and a large boilie, single baits can be fired accurately up to 80 meters, but where they truly excel in carp fishing is for accurately firing boilies from 10 to 40 meters with great precision and speed.
Larger free standing continental style ground bait catapults have been made to fire ground bait over 100 meters but these are still relatively uncommon, and large and heavy so are genuinely only wheeled out for really specialized situations and for serious competition use.
Catapult for 40mm feeding balls
Throwing Sticks are used as a method to accurately bait with boilies, and can be used to introduce bait at very long range, in the right hands at over 150 yards range with dense large hard baits. Throwing sticks are very good for creating a spread of bait and can be used to induce fish to move as they search for more bait. This can be beneficial as when a carp moves from one bait to another whilst feeding it is much easier to hook when feeding in this manner. Fishing a pop-up in this fashion can be an effective method and can make the hook bait stand out amongst the freebies, and may also offer greater hooking potential as the hook itself is less likely to be impeded by an weed that may be present on the lake bed.
Throwing sticks can be challenging to use at first, but practice makes perfect when using one. It is common to find the first few baits landing a few yards out in the lake, but after time baits can be accurately fed around a marker at long range. Gardner Skorpion Stiks come highly recommended and are useful as they are made in a range of colors (yellow, green and orange) and sizes to suit boilie sizes up to and including 18mm, 22mm, 25mm and 30mm to suit a range of sized baits. All these throwing sticks are usually used one handed, but for maximizing range you can use two hands will reduce the strain on your arms and also ensure you can reach extreme ranges.
Gardner Video - In the following video you get to see the Scorpion Throwing Sticks in action and get a couple of tips on how they are used.
When using a throwing stick soft baits can split in flight. By rinsing your stick out with water can help stop this problem, as this will reduce the spin created whilst firing baits out. Air drying soft baits can also be beneficial but they will become lighter due to drying out, the best solution we have found is where possible to fire them out whilst they are still frozen.
For more information on Throwing Sticks read the in-depth article.
Spods and Spodding
Spods come in an extremely wide range of colors and sizes and are an excellent way of introducing small baits at any range, whether you are applying a wide spread area or large volume of small baits such as small or chopped boilies, particles and pellets.
Spodding can require specialized tackle as some larger spods can weigh over 8 ounces when totally filled with bait and as such heavy rods and shock leaders may be needed to deal with the force of casting these heavy weight projectiles long ranges.
However it is not all doom and gloom and some spods can be used on normal fishing gear. I particularly like the Gardner Pocket Rockets as they come in 3 different sizes, pocket rocket, XL and XXL. What I particularly like about these spods is that between the three different sizes there is a rocket to suit all circumstances and situations an angler is likely to face.
The small Pocket Rocket is ideal when using normal fishing rods of 21/2 pound test curve and they can be cast relatively long distance, probably up to 70 yards easily. The XL version is slightly larger as its name states and is used for long range baiting with today’s stepped up carp rods of over 3Ib test curve commonly used by many anglers. The XXL is ideally used with specialized equipment when wanting to apply larger quantities of baits at long distances.
All the Pocket Rockets float nose first up to the surface when the bait has emptied out so you know when they have dropped their payload, which means they can then be used as a marker to cast at if need be. They are very aerodynamic and stable in flight - demonstrated by the fact that the XL size Pocket Rockets have been launched to a mind boggling 200 yards by top UK surf caster Bradley Risborough.
There is a ‘Fluoro’ colored version of XL Pocket Rocket which is ideal when baiting up in the dark or when there are low light levels. Charge them by leaving them out in the sun or with a UV torch and see exactly where your bait is landing at night.
To prevent ‘spod spill’ on all conventional styles of spods, it is best to add a small plug of stiff ground bait, or by wedging a couple of nuggets of Gardner Rigwise Dissolving Foam in the top of the spod before casting. By doing this you make sure that there is no spread of bait between the casting position and the baited area, focusing feeding fish where you want them.
By using the line clip on your reel spool you can ensure that you hit the same range every time day or night, and by using a feature on the far bank to line up with a high level of accuracy are easily achieved. If you are fishing to different areas at varying ranges then it’s simply a case of marking the ranges by tying stop knots comprising different colored marker braids at the correct distances. It’s just a case of remembering which color marker refers to each different area and away you go…The Bait Rocket is a larger version of the Pocket Rocket. They have a small foam insert in the bottom of the rocket which allows it to pop to the surface after the bait has been deposited. They are still extremely stable in flight, and are ideal for depositing big beds of larger particles and boilies. The Bait Rockets have holes molded along their length that allow the rocket to be retrieved on the surface of the water making it easier for the angler who is baiting at long range. Bait Rockets are large, so should be used with specialized spodding equipment and can be cast approximately 75 meters.
To prevent 'spod spill' on all conventional styles of spods, it is best to add a
small plug of stiff ground bait, or by wedging a couple of nuggets of Rigwise Desolving Foam in the top of the spod before casting.
Bait Bullets are a slim-lined rocket, which can be cast very long distances. It is nose weighted unlike other rockets or spods - that creates superb accuracy, stability and literally flies like a bullet!. The Bait and Particle Bullets incorporate a weighted ring which sits in a central position and this also helps to further stabilize the spod in flight. The unique cover mechanism ensures absolutely no spod spill, so 100% of the bait is deposited on your chosen spot. When the bullet hits the water the cradle drops off and the weighted ring slides back allowing water in through the flush port holes which are covered by the ring in flight. The port holes ensure the bait is flushed out of the bullet as soon as the bullet starts to be retrieved – even stodgy mixes.
The unique cover mechanism ensures absolutely no spod spill, so 100% of the bait is deposited on you chosen spot.
Being cleverly designed the bullet is retrieved nose first and is almost as easy to retrieve as a normal fishing rig. This can be extremely handy when reeling in repeatedly from long range.
It is an ideal piece of kit when wanting to present small patches of particles and boilies at extreme range. It is recommended that this spod is cast using specialist spodding equipment to reach its maximum range potential.
The Particle Bullet was designed on the success of the Bait Bullet – it is slightly wider so takes a larger payload and is ideally suited for delivering particles such as hemp, maize and pellet at long range. Again it is recommended that this spod is used using specialist equipment, and like the Bait Bullet allows for easy surface retrieve.
This is an excellent spod if you are suffering with bird troubles as the spod sinks, this confuses the birds and can make the difference between them homing in on the baited area or ignoring it..
Another spod in the range is the Marker Particle Bullet. These large capacity spods have a Fluoro nose cone and is ideal when casting long distances and you want to be very precise on where you want your bait to land. Ideal for use in rough conditions on big lakes as the nose cone will help you to see exactly where your spod is landing. They are also ideal for use in low light conditions.
Whilst on the subject of spodding it is definitely worth mentioning the Gardner Casting Gloves. These are an excellent piece of kit when casting heavy spods long distances
Gardner Casting Gloves - An essential piece of kit for all braid users!
Gardner Video - In the following video you get to see the Gardner Casting Gloves in action.
(or even the smaller rockets when they are being used a lot) as the double layered leather finger help protect the index finger which can easily become sore after periods of casting. A problem that is even more pronounced when using wet particles mixes as once your finger becomes wet it is more easily damaged by the force of casting a heavy rocket long distances. The gloves also incorporate a non slip grip on the palm which helps you hold on to the rod when you are giving your cast the maximum possible effort to reach long range.
Baiting spoons are an excellent invention, and can be used for a number of different purposes and situations and can open up a wide range of opportunities to the thinking angler who maybe wants to do something a little bit different.
They can be used to create a large bed of particles or boilies at relatively short range in quick time. As such a very popular use is for those anglers fishing the big lakes and river systems as an aid for baiting up off of boats. The spoons shape means that the bait can either be fed into a tight area, or if used with a sweeping throwing action a controlled spread of feed is created in an arc.
Gardner Video - In the following video you get to see a bit more on what makes the Baiting Spoon such a unique tool to have.
They can also be used to accurately hurl out balls of ground bait by adding a landing net pole using it in a throwing action. Another popular use is to put a spoon on the end of a long pole to present a rig and bait into inaccessible spots that would be impossible to cast to. Use a floating aid (net float) to make this process easier.
Baiting spoons are an item of kit which anglers should always have tucked away in their rucksack as it can be used in many different situations and when teamed with an adaptive angler can help to put that extra fish or two on the bank.
Bait Slings has been designed and developed to enable an angler to bait up an area with groundbait at distances in excess of 100 metres that would normally be unattainable with a spoon or catapult. With minimal practise, hitting those kind of distances is easily achievable. With practise and regular use accurate tight baiting should become second nature. Bait Slings can be used with your normal fishing rod and reel and 15lb mainline. For groundbaiting the Bait Sling is a ‘must have’ item.
The Bait Pouch is an essential piece of luggage that makes baiting up with either the Gardner Skorpion Stiks or catapults easier and more accurate.
It definitely saves all that spilled bait and grovelling around in buckets when baiting up.
The Bait Pouch sits open in exactly the right position and will not tip forward and spill, even when loaded with more than 2kg of bait.
It has elasticated straps to hold a catapult on either the left or right hand side, a neat front pocket for bits & pieces and a separate interior which can easily be removed and washed out.
There is a wide range of baiting tools available to anglers. Choosing the right approach to use and one you are happy using which fits in with your own angling is important. Practice makes perfect and get used to using each one in different situations as necessary will pay off and help you catch more fish.
Good Luck and get out there practicing.
He is 25 years old, and lives in Basingstoke, Hampshire.
He has carved a fierce reputation as one of the UK’s up and coming star specimen anglers by catching big fish of ALL the UK coarse fish species, including Carp, Barbel, Chub, Perch, Pike, Catfish, Bream , Crucians, Tench, Rudd and Roach.