The way an angling team prepares their equipment has a lot to do with
their success in any angling
tournament. The Bass Masters are known to spend a lot of
time and energy fine tuning their jigs,
buzz baits and spinner baits to assure top performance from them.
We have seen big game marlin
tournament anglers fly in tackle and engine specialists to remote
locales like Walker’s Cay to assure
top performance of their equipment. So if you are serious about King
Mackerel angling and want to
compete with the top anglers in this very competitive series you
need to prepare well in advance of
any tournament you are planning to compete in.
location and technique are critical to angling success but we believe if
everything else was
equal - that is we all have good baits, knew where the fish were and
were fishing with the proper
techniques - preparation and great rigging WILL make a large difference
in our placement on the
leader board. There is general consensus between tournament
anglers on the on the basic rigging
and presentations for king mackerel fishing, however beyond the basics
there is a great body of
discourse to confuse even the most ardent anglers. What size
trebles, pound test for the line, treble
or single hooks in the 'nose hook, length of wire leader, wire versus
fluorocarbon leader and on and
on and on. We want to provide you the basic rigs for successful
king fishing and offer you a few
'professional' opinions from seasoned tournament anglers. So sit
back and read on - you are sure to
pick up something from this section. For a super PRIMER on this
type of angling - we would
recommend the C&H lures video tape King Fishing Secrets. Dave
Workman - 3 time Southern Kingfish
Association (SKA) angler of the year - details ALL of the basics of the
sport and provides a great
instructional video on everything from rigging to deployment of
downriggers and everything in between.
This video can be ordered at
for around $25.
BAIT STINGER RIG
rigs we use to attract and catch fish must be based upon the feeding
habits of the fish we are
The King Mackerel are slash feeders, many times biting the tails
off their prey and coming
back a few minutes later to finish off the injured baitfish.
This is why Kings are known as notorious
Not to be outwitted by a wary predator, anglers have created a
solution to this feeding
The Ha-Ha (as its called in the Florida Keys) or stinger rig
allows the angler to better
present bait in a fashion which assures a much higher hook-up
ratio than a standard trolling rig.
The rig in the foreground of the picture below shows the basic 'single'
bait stinger rig the FishDancer
angling team deploys when
slow trolling for kings (the single stinger rig pictured has a
of wire than the 18 inches described in the basic instructions
coin in the center is a quarter and is there for comparison purposes.
From foreground to background of the
picture is a single pogy no color, a double pogy with a blue and white
C&H KingBuster skirt and a ribbonfish rig
with a pink jig head)
rig is effective on many species of fish and especially effective when
slow trolling for kings.
Start with a 40 pound barrel swivel, add 18 inches of #4 wire (darkest
color you can find). All
connections made with the wire will be done with a haywire twist - a
critical knot to learn for
making these rigs. Twist a #1 live bait hook (or #4 XS treble hook
if you prefer) to the tag end
of the wire. Haywire twist a stinger treble hook of your chosen
size to the nose hook with
about 4-7 inches of wire (depending upon bait size and type) and you are
ready to go. The picture
above illustrates the rig with a King Buster Skirt of pink and white.
There are as many variations
to this rig as there are anglers so get the basics down and try out your
favorite variation. Some
use shorter wire leaders, some use heavier mono rather than wire,
some use no skirts and some
even downsize the wire and hook sizes. Some anglers eliminate the
swivel and utilize an Albright
knot to connect the wire directly to the leader or fishing line.
In any case this basic rig can serve
you well in you attempt to catch a smoker.
simple concept of this rig is to hook the live bait (pogy, cigar minnow
or other favorite) through
the nose with the live bait hook and have the ‘stinger’ (Ha-Ha)
treble hook insure all short strikes
are converted into hookups. With
fish like Kings, stealth is important, The FishDancer team seeks
the darkest wire, and of smallest diameter with the smallest hooks we
dare to fish. In last years
TFC tournament out of Jacksonville we caught a large King approaching 30
pounds with a size
6 XS VMC treble hook and only 1 barb of the hook was imbedded and in the
fish’s tail to boot.
Apparently as the fish slashed at the bait it initially missed the
stinger and when it turned quickly
to get away the hook imbedded in its tail.
As Nancy brought the fish up after a lengthy battle it
came up exhausted and tail first – nothing to gaff…but we prevailed
and the fished weighed a
respectable 27.86 pounds.
BAIT STINGER RIG
anglers utilize a variation of the single bait stinger rig and tie a
double bait stinger rig. The
setup is the same for both. 40 pound swivel and 18 inches of #4 wire
tied to the nose hook
(which ever you choose). Now in between the 4-7 inch stinger wire
and the nose hook, add about
11 inches of wire and an additional treble hook. The 11 inches are
important as too small of a
separation between baits will allow for the baits to tangle and too
large will appear unnatural to
the wily king mackerel. These double bait rigs can also be adorned
with color or fished au natural.
These rigs are highly effective in properly presenting the bait and
score many large kings on the
tournament trail. This rig can also be used to slow troll larger baits
like small bluefish, trout and
Spanish mackerel. It is critical to prepare enough rigs well in
advance of heading out to fish as
tying rigs on a rolling ocean is not recommended. The FishDancer
team carries a minimum of 50
rigs for each tournament day, pre-rigging hundreds of these rigs during
the angler masters the basic rigging techniques, one can move to more
advanced rigs. The
Atlantic Cutlassfish (aka Ribbonfish or silver eel) is a great bait for
large king mackerel.
However it requires special rigging due to the size and shape of the
bait itself. Utilizing the basics
we have just learned, anyone can tie an effective Ribbonfish rig.
Choose your swivel and wire
(silver wire is preferred to match the baits natural color and
camouflage the wire) leader length
and then haywire twist the nose hook onto the wire. Many anglers
use a jig head for the nose hook. This
offer the advantage of keeping the rigged silver eel running true when
trolling. Next you need to
treble hooks (these should be silver as well) every 4-6 inches to the
length of the ribbonfish.
Since bait sizes are highly variable on ribbonfish (we have had them as
small as 12 inches and as
large as 30 inches) you need to rig as many hooks as possible to fully
cover the side of the
ribbonfish. Two of the three treble hooks should be imbedded in
the side of the ribbonfish.
The nose hooks can vary from a larger live bait hook to a jig head
depending upon your preference. On 'secret' we have designed for
our ribbonfish rigs is to reduce the size of the treble hooks as the rig
made - so sometimes we use 6XS, 4XS, and 2XS trebles with a GREAT hook
in the tail. By great
we mean SUPER SHARP and extra strong. This hook will see a lot of
action and must be able to
stand up to the strike of the king. You can add color to these
rigs if you like and can fish these
rigs deep or on the surface. These
rigs are best utilized on downriggers but can also be used as
a flat line – long or short. One
interesting variation of this rig is the ‘voodoo rig’ that is a
combination of the single pogy stinger and the ribbonfish rig.
The main issue with either of these
rigs is that they run true…. a spinning ribbon is a wasted line and
will see NO action, so test out
your rig BEFORE you deploy it, if it swims naturally you are set – if
not try again.
an angler masters the 'art' of rig tying you are ready to deploy the
baits in a bait spread.
In our experience this deployment is the single most critical factor in
your angling success and will
determine whether or not you fill your fish box. We have always
tried to create the illusion of an
active food chain coupled with fleeing bait fish in our spread. We
fish six lines and the placement
and utilization of each is important. We ALWAYS fish 2 downrigger
lines. At the start, one will
have a ribbonfish and the other will be a double bait stinger rig. We
stagger the depths and baits
on these two lines to fully probe the water column for bites. If
the ribbonfish gets bit, we will
add another and vice versa. The long line will also have a double
bait stinger rig and it is fished
well behind the boat. Be considerate in a crowd and shorten you
long line to avoid tangling other
anglers. The 2 flat lines we fish from 90 degree rod riggers and
one will have a single and the
other a double bait stinger rig. These are staggered in terms of feet
behind the boat to find the
spots where the kings are biting. Some days its short others its
farther back. Be flexible and keep
adjusting your spread and baits until you find a productive
pattern. Finally we have one line in the
prop wash and will deploy a variety of baits and rigs in this spot.
Our experience indicates that
bait condition is also important. Don't keep dragging near dead
baits - or red nosed pogies.
Constantly freshen them up and move the lines. We have gotten many
strikes while dropping back
or pulling in our lines. Perhaps the additional movement catches
the eye of a wary Kingfish trailing
your bait? Follow these tips and you just may find your King
fishing adventures more productive.
Good luck and tight lines.