MACKEREL TROLLING TIPS
Dave Magner provides some inside info to help you catch more Mackerel on hard-bodied lures.
Mackerel are a great sportfish. They hit hard, take long, drag testing runs and fight all the way to the boat. If looked after correctly once caught, they make great eating too. In my book, however, the best thing about them is that they love lures almost as much as I do, which means I can troll for them.
The secret to more effective Mackerel trolling is speed. If you want to catch more Mackerel on lures, troll faster. While 6 knots is okay, 7, 8, 9 or 10 knots is even better. The faster you can troll, the more likely you are to get connected. If you aren’t getting any strikes, most times you just need to troll faster to get the fish excited.
We spend a lot of time trolling for Mackerel and have refined our technique to suit. As we fish from a small boat, we run a pair of diving lures out the back and we troll them as fast as they will go. Over the last twelve months, we have devoted a lot of effort into trying to find out which lures fit this approach best.
LURES FOR HIGH-SPEED TROLLING
While many lures are advertised as being designed for high-speed trolling, we’ve come to find that only a few models will actually hold in at the top end of our speed range. Without a doubt, the most effective hard-bodied diving hard-bodied lures for mackerel in our experience are the Rapala X-Rap Magnums. Please bear in mind that I’m not sponsored by Rapala, it’s just that our experience shows that X-Raps are tough enough to take repeated strikes without disintegrating and best of all the fish love them.
While we catch a lot of fish on the X-Rap Mag 30, for all-around performance I don’t think you can beat the mid-sized X-Rap Mag 20. It is slightly smaller in profile, is easier to hang onto when trolling and dives almost as deep as it’s bigger brother. This makes it appealing to a wider range of species and we catch everything from just-legal Schoolies up to serious Spaniards on it. We’ve even had 20kg GT take them so they are certainly a versatile lure.
While the old faithful pattern of white with a red head will catch fish, another tip to fool fussy fish is to use more naturalistic colours. Try the Silver Blue Mackerel (SBM), Blue Sardine (BSRD) or the Gold Green Mackerel (GGM).
AVOID A WIRE TRACE
My final tip to improve trolling for Mackerel is don’t use a wire trace. Mackerel have incredible eyesight and in highly pressured fisheries, such as along the southeastern Queensland coast, they seem to be able to spot wire a mile away. In our experience, going without a wire trace is almost guaranteed to dramatically increase your catch rate. In place of wire, I normally just run a 15-20kg mono or fluorocarbon leader to a Mustard Fastach clip. You will occasionally get bitten off without a trace but losing the occasional lures is a more than acceptable tradeoff for all the extra strikes.
Get some deep diving minnow lures capable of holding in at 8-10 knots. Rig them without a wire trace and troll them at speed over known Mackerel hotspots than hang on and enjoy the fight.
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