Jan Porter – Catching Carp on “The Spoddler”

Jan wrote this article for us back in 2013 and as a mark of respect to the great man, his love of fishing and encouraging young anglers, we thought we’d keep a bit of him alive on this relaunched version of the Angling Gazette magazine

The water temperature is really starting rise rapidly as we enter May/June and the carp’s metabolic rate increases, as they build up their reserves for spawning ,in usually in late May or early June.
It’s a time when the spom or spod & zig approach begins in earnest as all across the land hundreds of commercial and syndicate waters receive a barrage of particles, chopped baits & slop at range by the ton.

The leads are cast out with baits on the deck, popped up or zigged high up in the warmer thermoclines. All good methods on their day but all missing a trick about the way carp feed when spodding takes place on heavily stocked waters like *Thorpe Lea and Daventry Reservoir, to name just two prolific day ticket waters.

Coming from a match angling heritage it still seems strange to me that many carp anglers are very set in their ways, in terms of their approach to angling.

Don’t get me wrong there is nothing to a laid back attitude, chilling out with a couple of bottom baits or popped up boilies is something I do regularly. A zig rig will fix the bait at a set depth thermocline in the water, “set” being the operative word. I wanted to consider this aspect as I think it is one area that is hardly given any thought.

A fixed bait or static as I would call it on a river, catches loads of fish, but so does a moving bait and sometimes fixed baits are considered ‘unnatural’, especially on clear water during daylight hours.

This is very often when a bounced bait will invoke bites that a static won’t.

I realise that this may seem like comparing apples to pears but stillwaters have tow & currents of their own, so in a similar way this theory holds up. But it’s the way carp feed that will determine the ‘dangerous bait’, or at least bait they become wary of.

Of course you can critically balance a bait to try and compensate for the weight of the hook, but there is still the hooklink material and the length of it, that will affect the behaviour of it under a fishes fin/mouth investigation.

On heavily pressured day ticket large biomass commercials like Linears’ Braisenose 1 & 2 a static bait sometimes is the last bait a carp will pick up. If any fish blows or causes a vortex near the baits surrounding the hook they will freely move all except the only one that is the one weighted down by the hook, rig and mainline.

Floater fishing using dog biscuits and such like means for much more of a concentrated effort on the part of the angler. And again it forms a fixed bait, albeit drifting it rarely emulates the loose feed.

The only area then that is rarely, if ever, considered is a bait falling through the water, or on the drop as match anglers term it. When you introduce feed in the warmer months on heavily stocked waters, fish will start to compete and move closer the source of entry i.e. up in the water.

Spom & spod, or even the less popular, but highly effective & underrated carp swim builder “groundbait”, lend themselves perfectly to this scenario. Yet how many times do carp anglers build up there swims with hectic spod work, only to fish the bottom of the lake.
A boilie or hookbait pulled through the water with a 2oz plus weight would maybe tempt a barracuda but at breakneck speed you’ll never catch a carp this way, fairly at any rate. However, working on the basis that heavy spod activity will initially attract carp to the noise and then to the food source, it is quite reasonable to suppose that they will come up in the water as they compete.

Enter the “Spoddler”! This is an adaptation of spodding (and spomming these days I hear) but incorporating a much smaller spod, modified from a large Korda Skyliner. And in conjunction with a hook, is something I have been using for nearly ten years now, but kept under wraps in the carping media until about 2008.
The spoddler is so called by me because it’s actually a small scaled down spod, but in reality it’s more to do with being a variation of the bagging waggler. However, it’s much easier to use and requires much less technical knowledge of how to prepare the groundbait.

The texture to keep a ball of soft groundbait on a frame feeder fixed under a large pike float (bagging waggler) and cope with a cast, then quickly break down on impact requires experience and effort in preparation. Top match anglers have this technique off to a tee but again it means much more thought, prep, understanding & experience to get it dead right.

Making the groundbait up for the spoddler isn’t as technical as for the bagging waggler, but it is also not a case of chucking a load of any old groundbait knocked up in a flash. It still has to be good stuff. Choose a good quality brown crumb as a carrier but always ensure that there is plenty of attractor inside the final mix. I now use Dynamite baits but used to use Richworth Lake as it is a soft base carrier. To that I add crushed marine pellet & swimstim, a bit of betaine and maybe some krill or green lipped mussel.
I also have the option of liquidised sweetcorn something I’ve used to great success in all my angling for the last 30 years. This is suitable as an additive but don’t over egg the mix with this sticky sweet liquid, as it tends to act as a binder.

Actually I prefer to use this as a porridge for the spoddler with crushed trout pellet although to bolster up the flavour. I have also used liquidised casters or dead maggots (frozen not boiled I hasten to add!)

Add all the main ingredients together & blend thoroughly then add your liquid little by little. Hemp liquid should never be ignored, the juice from one of the best particle baits available to man, is a superb carp magnet.

The key to success is to knock up the groundbait the night before, as this tends to bring out all the fullness of the additives and flavourings, just like a good curry or a chilli does.

Once the mix is to the required texture sieve through a maggot riddle. The mix should be fluffy after this stage of the preparation and slightly moist. If it’s too dry it will come out of the spoddler too quickly. This might be okay when the carp are lined up and competing , but initially I like a moist mix that can be compacted to allow a slower release.

Then it is time to set up the end rig. I use a size 10 ESP raptor Big-T (Not T4 as in sketch) with the barb ground down or Mustad Power hooks in 14’s to 10’s. Both patterns of hook are strong with sharp durable points, I use a hooklink of Silk Shock diameter 18 –22 dependent on the size or the mood of the fish.

Drayton (a very heavily stocked UK carp reservoir) is the ideal place to catch fish to order but I have caught fish on many waters using the spoddler so don’t let that put you off using it for bigger fish, just scale up the hooklink.

I tend to fish a maximum depth of about 8 feet but prefer 4 – 6 feet, as this helps to cast out easier with less chance of catching bankside vegetation.

This depth is never set in stone & I will explore the feeding target area periodically, as the fish get wary or move higher up in the water.

Hookbait wise, most anglers using the bagging waggler opt for 10mm chocolate white boilies, hard ones I might add. However I have come up with another unusual bait that has caught me loads of carp recently.

As the trend towards artificial baits continues to gain momentum, I’ve found the best of the bunch to be Artificial Corn.
alien corn
I liked the alien baits variety because these are very hot colours and the yellow one is my favourite.

They also manufacture this plastic corn in floating & sinking options, so as the whole concept is for “on the drop” fishing, I want the hookbait to sink through the water as slowly as possible i.e. almost neutral buoyancy, including the weight of the hook.

By altering a combination of sinking & floating hookbait, with a little fine tuning, I can fashion a superb slow on the drop bait that spends much more time than a regular sinking bait attached to a hook.

Plastic corn is also very robust and this is important when catching lots of fish which is what the spoddler is designed to do. However it will tempt those wary fish (sometimes really big ones!) that feed on the spod contents as they fall through the water upon entry.

Another trick I have devised is using a drilled plastic bead with some hi density foam inside. Again I can get the buoyancy counterbalanced with the hook/hookbait and these beads are multicoloured and available very cheaply from Hobbycraft. The orange ones are the best as they fluoresce under ultra violet light.

I mocked a up few up with a header card and passed them around a few of carp anglings biggest carp names for a lark, complete with own sketched header card and poly grip bag with a variant of this message on the back.
2 x Pop Up Beads 2 x Bottom Beads.

Use in conjunction with PVA sticks/bags,method/feeders
(Oh & Spoddlers)

Flavour foam or paste core.

Good Luck & Great Angling!!

The added benefit is that you can add some liquid flavour into the foam but take this into account when trimming the foam. I use a bait drill to drill out the beads and hair rig them, I have also caught on these as pop up or bottom baits.

The spoddler works by simply filling it up with groundbait & casting out, just like a normal spom, spod or rocket. The buoyant nose cone ensure that it “turns turtle” as soon as it hits the water. The contents will then tip out or can be helped out by simply twitching the spoddler

Accuracy can be maintained by using a piece of pole elastic whipped onto the mainline using a sliding knot. I prefer to walk out the line to a set mark and then I can use this to set up the second rod. You can of course use distance sticks, Like Cygnets.
distance sticks
Being on target all the time is the key to success and once you get into a rhythm on a good water on the right day you will soon be into action.

The release of the groundbait can be varied by compacting it, which then makes the spoddler a floating stick.

Don’t be afraid to fish a very short hook link, carp will come almost to the surface in the warmer months and as long as the mono is strong enough, then you should be able to successfully land mid doubles without any problems.

I use my time honoured safety swivel and lead tail to attach the spoddler my main line. It ensures 100% that in the event of a breakage (crack off) on the mainline above the spoddler the hooklink instantly pulls free with little or nor resistance by the fish.

When I ‘retired’ from the domestic match scene in 1992, I spent some time on Layer Pits using long range 60cm home made wagglers, fished at 75 yards. Plus firing out balls of groundbait heavily laced with hemp & casters.

Carp were caught on the drop using a sinking and a floating maggot to slow the descent rate down. It caught lots of carp, and around the same a few time big carp anglers were attaching hooks to spods, and catching on the drop.

It’s an early indicator of the cross pollination between match & carp anglers, and a healthy productive poling of ideas. I have caught well on the particle spod with a hooklength attached over the years since.
Jan Porter Common Carp
The spoddler, my refined variation on the theme from what I knew and learned then, was specifically designed to mirror the bagging waggler.

This was very different from what the carp anglers were doing at Layer pits in as much as carp angler used spods with particles & match anglers used clinically prepared groundbait, fired out in catapults over large wagglers at extreme range.

Cutting a Korda large Skyliner virtually in half, removing the buoyant hot orange nose cone and re pinning it onto the shorter finned section, yielded a dumpy spod that is perfect for groundbait as it doesn’t get stuck inside the spod like it does with the standard “uncut” version.

Having proven it’s worth live in front of Sky TV’s Tight Lines film crew at the last Korda Carpfest at Thorpe Lea and catching to camera within 20 seconds, was a real pivotal moment.

The carp I landed wasn’t the biggest but I was so excited. To be able to explain the spoddler, and of course catching a fish when the red camera lights are winking at you, is always very, very special.

The evening before I put over 20 carp on the mat in less than 3 hours with many passers by having a go. Steve Ringer had his PB at the time on the Spoddler & a French visitor caught his first ever UK carp. A stray dog had three doubles! It really is that good on it’s day 😉 .

Safety Note

*This technique was banned at Thorpe Lea the last time I visited due to anglers not observing the basics in fish welfare and safe tackle usage so please always check fishery rules before attempting the spoddler & make your rigs 100% safe if you ‘crack off’

Never use cheap ineffectual clips or tether rigs for this technique if you value the carps welfare. I’ve seen some pretty horrendous examples of lead attachments that will never come loose.

If you don’t know how to make up a safety rig in any form of carping, then you shouldn’t be setting the traps in the first place.
There is lots of info available about good angling on the internet, so please do your research before attempting any new rig.

If you follow the example as per my drawing, then you can be comfortable in the knowledge that you are fishing a cheap, exciting and safe rig, which is bags of fun to use.

Use a minimum of 8lb for fish up to mid doubles but on water with upper doubles & higher 12lb is a minium requirement or you will get broken off on the bite as believe me, they hit you that hard.

Lets see how good you knots really are eh?

Good luck & great safe spoddlering !!!

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