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October 26, 2001

Baitless Rigging for Spanish Macks

An "old salt" showed me this baitless rig.

I was fishing off New Folly Beach, South Carolina, when a school of Spanish mackerel came slashing through a school of bait on a rising tide. An "old salt" showed me this baitless rig, and he and I caught seven of these voracious fish while others around us fishing with cut bait or small silver or gold spoons saw little or no action.
This rig works with 14- to 30-pound mono line. All you need are six to 10 #4 gold hooks and a 2-ounce bank sinker. Using clinch knots, tie the hooks directly onto 6 to 10 feet of line, 12 to 18 inches apart. At the end of the line, about 12 inches from the last hook, tie the bank sinker.
Jig the rig up and down in a smooth, fluid motion. The flash of the gold hooks excites the mackerel, causing them to strike. This rig works better than rigs with highly visible wire leaders, snaps or swivels because mackerel are "leader shy." The price of more strikes is an occasional cut line from the mackerels' sharp teeth.

- Mark Beale, Charleston
South Carolina