Itís nearly summer and that means we can start putting some bait in again. For a bait junkie like me this is the signal to dust down the spodding gear and mix up a big bucket of sloppy stuff to get the fish feeding hard.

Why use a spod though? Isnít it just as easy to catapult bait out? Well, there are a couple of reasons why you just cannot ignore this piece of kit. Firstly, spodding enables you to get a bed of particle baits, be they maggots, hemp, maize or whatever, out accurately without using groundbait. Now, there are times when I am quite happy to use groundbait, but the hard balls needed to catapult long distances are rarely give the presentation that I am looking to achieve. I now even introduce groundbait with the aid of a spod to give a light covering, rather than great clods on the lakebed. Secondly, you can cast a spod much further than you can catapult a ball of groundbait. Now I have heard all sorts of distances quoted, but I reckon the limit with a catty is about sixty yards, whereas the spod can get you over the ton. A big advantage Ė sometimes!

Basic gear
If you are just starting out there is no need to splash out on specialist gear to get into spodding. If you have something along the lines of a 2.5lb test curve carp or pike rod, along with a fixed spool reel capable of holding 12lb line then you are OK. With this relatively light gear you wonít be able to cast huge distances with big spods, but you can fish at a good range using the smaller Gardner Pocket Rockets. These bright yellow spods put nothing like the same amount of strain on a rod and as long as you remember to lob them rather than thrash the rod you will be OK.

The set-up is dead easy. Simply tie the spod to the end of the line and you are ready to go. If you can get hold of a line that floats well then so much the better. You can spray the line with silicone line float (or I use the silicone sprays used for proofing nylon tents). A floating line makes retrieving a spod along the surface much easier. Now fill the spod with bait, top up with water (very important, or you will lose some of the bait during the cast) and gently cast it out. It will take a few goes to get used to the weight on the end, but you will soon find it no more difficult to cast than a baited rig.

These smaller spods are ideal for putting out tight beds of small particles, but their narrow profile does mean that they tend to clog up if you use them with groundbait. Much better to go with rapid-breakdown pellets.

Specialist gear
As you get more proficient at spodding, the chances are you will probably want to step up to fishing with bigger spods and at longer range. Now, it is no secret that I like to use a bit of bait, so my spods take a third of a pint of bait in a single chuck! If you put these out, even at moderate range, on a carp rod, eventually the spigots will break. Similarly, if you try to fish at really long range the rod wonít take it. After breaking loads of (carp) rods I was fortunate enough to be given a Giant spod rod and big pit reel. Obviously I am biased, but with this combination I can put a big spod a very long way indeed! Other companies sell spod rods and as long as they have a test curve of 4lb they should be OK. The one big problem with cheap spod rods though is the action tends to be too fast. Remember that spods are heavy things and the best casting action is a gradual increase in speed rather than a fast whack.

Use one of the smaller spods with this kit and you will be able to put bait out a very long way indeed. You will cast even further though by stepping up to a slightly larger spod that works the rod better. Look for a loaded weight of around four ounces to attain maximum range. Bigger spods can weigh around eight to ten ounces and although you wonít get the same kind of distance with these, they still cast well enough and mean a big bed of bait can be put out quickly. I tend to use the original Gardner particle rocket, or the new Giant particle rocket for putting out lots of bait.

If you havenít tried spodding yet then you are missing out on the best way of creating a bed of feed. Donít think that you have can only use spods in stillwaters though. They can work just as well for putting bait along the far margin of big slow flowing rivers, like the Thames and lower Severn, or even very accurately at shorter range under overhanging cover. Give it a go, you wonít look back!