ROB HUGHES: Where to clip your spod rod in relation to your hookbait

ROB HUGHES: Where to clip your spod rod in relation to your hookbait

Where should you clip up your spod rod in relation to your fishing rods? Rob Hughes is here with the definitive answer.

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One of the questions I get asked probably more than any other is where to clip up the spod rod in comparison to the marker float.

Some say leave it at the same distance, whereas others say shorten it by a foot for every 3ft of depth. Now, that’s a significant difference of opinion.

I’d harboured my own thoughts on the matter for a while, but armed with a couple of trusty helpers – Harry Charrington and Lee Morris – I set out to find the precise answer.

The test

Just like with the casting experiment last month, we set up a 1.5m-by-1.5m square box on the bottom of the lake, in 11ft of water 50yds from the bank.

Rob laid out a boxed area on the lakebed in order to test the theories

Rob laid out a boxed area on the lakebed in order to test the theories

A marker float was cast out to the spot and an Impact Spod was clipped up to the same distance as the marker lead.

A filled spod was cast out and, having hit the clip correctly (and this is important), it deposited the bait 3ft behind the target zone.

The same test was repeated, and again it fell 3ft ‘too far’.

As usual, I was bedecked in my diving gear watching all this happen underwater, so I then moved the spod until it was touching the marker float on the surface, and asked the lads to clip up once more and try again. This time the bait landed in the box, and it did so again several times when we repeated the experiment.

The ‘clipping-up’ conundrum

Having seen that the bait was landing 3ft farther than the marker with Mozza’s casting style when the spod was clipped up at the same distance as the marker lead, we then checked the difference between the one he had clipped up and the one I had set ‘bang on the money’.

Our conclusion was that in 11ft of water you could take 3ft off your spod rod line to end up baiting in the middle of your marked spot.

Now, don’t be fooled into thinking that this will be 1ft for every 4ft of water depth across the board.

An equally important factor is the distance you are casting, so I would follow the law of diminishing returns.

If your water is half as deep again – ie almost 18ft – then I’d perhaps add half again to the amount you take off the spod rod before clipping it up, so I’d take off 4.5ft in total, as opposed to the 6ft it would be if it were a foot for every three.

The key, as mentioned previously both in this piece and also in the casting accuracy feature we covered last month, is to be accurate and consistent.

How much line (in ft) to take off spod depending on swim depth

Consistent casting

I mentioned a moment ago that it was important to hit the clip ‘correctly’, but what exactly does that mean?

Casting consistently takes plenty of practice

Casting consistently takes plenty of practice

Hit it too hard and it will bounce back off the clip, too soft and it will not get to the spot at all. Cast too low and there is again a risk of bounce back, too high and it will be carried by the wind away from the drop zone. So where exactly is the best place to hit the clip?

Ideally the cast needs enough power to get to your chosen spot, and then start dropping.

You should be hitting the clip between 2ft to 6ft above the water to get the best and most accurate drop. The lower it hits the clip the further away from you the bait will spread.

The higher you hit it, the more chance there will be of sideways spread as the wind and bow in the line take over.

Remember also that bounce back is exaggerated when using braid, as we all do on our spod rods.

It’s easy to think that because you hit the clip that the spod made the distance, but if you hit it too hard and you get a bounce back of 6ft (which may not look a lot from the perspective of the bank) it means that the bait will drop well short of the target.

The key is consistency, and you can check this by looking at how much line you have to reel in before you ‘connect’ with the spod before rewinding to reload.

Ideally, you shouldn’t have to reel in any slack at all – you should be in direct contact with the spod on the surface, after it has deposited its load.

Where do you want your freebies?

It’s important to remember that different people want their hookbait in different places relative to their bait spread.

For example, Harry likes his smack bang in the middle of his baited spot, Lee prefers to be on the near side, whereas I am quite happy having the hookbait at the back (albeit ideally off to one side).

It’s important to remember that proper accuracy and consistency is the key here.

If you cast differently each time, your bait will spread differently. Equally if you are not accurate, your spread will be wide. I can’t emphasise it enough – practise ‘consistent’ casting to take that hugely significant problem out of the equation.

I’ve just come back from an incredible session on a water that really responded to accurate baiting. In 48 hours I managed 20 fish, including six over 50lb and countless other whackers.

Accuracy and keeping the bait and rigs tight was, without any shadow of doubt, a key factor in my success.

Spread betting

So, with the ‘clipping up’ distance covered, the other major thing to consider is how certain baits fall through the water and how far they spread out on the way down.

Boilies fall in tight groupings

Boilies fall in tight groupings

The mass, size and shape of the bait being fed all come into the reckoning, and certain baits are more suited to certain situations and weather conditions.

Here I’ve compiled a list of the most commonly used types of loosefeed and, based on my observations when diving, how fast they sink and how far they spread.

A fish which Rob caught thanks to tight baiting

A fish which Rob caught thanks to tight baiting


If they’re round boilies, then they will fall quite quickly and end up pretty tightly grouped on the bottom. The spread in a swim 10ft deep will typically be between 1ft to 1.5ft.


Bigger pellets fall more tightly grouped than smaller ones, and in 6ft of water they will spread out by about 2ft, with the heavier ones in the middle and the lighter ones round the edges.


Partiblend, especially hemp, is pretty good at both sinking quickly and offering a decent, even spread as being pre-soaked it’s actually quite heavy so groups up well.

It spreads out by about 12–18ins in 6ft of water, and is probably the best bait to create a ‘carpet feed’ situation.


Sweetcorn is a lovely bait to spod. It has just the right amount of weight, and it flutters down gently, widening its spread. In 10ft of water it might open up to between 2ft and 3ft, depending on how the spod hits the surface.

Chopped boilies

Chops look lovely on the bank in a bucket, but when they fall through the water they separate out, with the heavier, rounder baits in the middle, and the lighter odd-shaped ones spreading out a little wider.

Weather issues

Besides the bait’s inherent weight, there are a number of other factors that affect how much your bait spreads out as it descends to the bottom.

These are: the way you deliver it, weather conditions, and water conditions (primarily undertow).

The weather can be a major issue, and wind in particular will play havoc with your accuracy, especially a cross wind.

Old-school spods drift an awful lot, and although they may have landed in the right spot, they don’t necessarily drop their load there. They generally only fully discharge when reeled in so bear that in mind when it comes to your choice of weapon, especially when you are spodding liquid or ‘slop’ over zigs.

Spombs and Impact Spods are significantly better at delivering bait where it should be. It sounds very simple, but if you are struggling to get your Impact Spod/Spomb out to the spot accurately, try a bigger size. It’s amazing how big a difference this can make.

Combatting undertow

Undertow is something that can have a big effect, but this primarily affects lighter baits.

Generally speaking, undertow will be working the opposite way to the wind, but it will not affect heavy baits like boilies or bigger pellets. Conversely, light pellets, corn and maggots/cloud mix can be badly affected, and on a big tow in deep water they could end up as far as 6ft or more off your spot.

Typical undertow explained

Typical undertow explained

The only way to combat a hefty tow is to use heavier bait that will sink quicker. Sack off the maggots and slop and get on the boilies.

If you are spodding slop for zig fishing it’s important to be very aware of undertow. If your bites dry up you may think that the fish have moved. They probably will have, but usually not too far as they are almost certainly following the smell. Try casting upwind a bit rather than down to see if they are there.  

Final considerations

One last thing to remember if you are fishing to an underwater feature is that the type of bait you are using has a massive impact on how it will work.

In weed, heavy boilies might sink into the green stuff whereas lighter pellets, particles and corn will catch in its upper layers. Don’t make the mistake of finding the edge of the weed, fishing on the clear area of lakebed next to it, and then baiting behind it, because the fish will feed on the freebies in the weed and not on your spot.

It’s better to bait short and then fish behind the bait, rather than feeding the weed behind your spot. This is a very common mistake and one that is costly.

The tops of bars or up marginal slopes are great places to fish at this time of year but bear in mind that if you are fishing boilies they can roll down and end up either hidden in stones, or drop into deeper water, taking the fish with them.

Ideally use chops. I know an angler who went from catching just the odd fish from a lake with steep margins to being the top rod after making one small tweak - chopping up his boilies. When whole, they had been landing on his spot and then rolling down the slope.

As soon as everything landed on the spot, and stayed there, his catch rate went through the roof.

Six key things to remember

1.      Be consistent. The more variation in your casting style, the more variation there will be in your loosefeeding accuracy. This is the golden rule.

2.      If you’re struggling to hit the clip, try a bigger Impact Spod. If you’re struggling with accuracy, try a midi-sized one.

3.      If you are using an old school spod, bear in mind that it will still be discharging bait until it’s reeled in. When it lands, give it a flick to clear the contents out, rather than letting it drift

4.      Different baits fall at different rates. Check the water and weather conditions to make sure you’re not caught out.

Six Spombs' worth of bait looks sparse on the lakebed. Up your baiting

Six Spombs' worth of bait looks sparse on the lakebed. Up your baiting

5.      “A couple of spods” is virtually nothing. I would say most anglers should double the amount of bait they are putting in to achieve what they think they are doing.

6.      Boilies fed via a Spomb/Impact Spod tend not to spread out. If you want a wider spread, use a catapult, or put a lot less in and make more casts.