How to Rig a Spanish Mackerel

Learn how to rig a Spanish mackerel for offshore trolling.
Mike Murray
Spanish mackerel are one of the top blue marlin baits out there. A Spanish mackerel rigged on a circle hook makes a terrific pitch bait when teasing up big blues. Many crews also like to skip them in the spread. This particular Spanish mackerel rig can be used both ways.
MATERIALS: Fresh Spanish mackerel with innards removed, rigging floss, rigging needle, a 12/0 circle hook, barrel swivel and leader material.
If you purchase a sealed Spanish mackerel from a reputable bait supplier, the bait should come gutted. If not, you can do it yourself by making a small incision in the belly in front of the anal fin and squeezing out the innards.
Make a note of where you want to situate the swivel on the bait's head. The swivel will act as the pulling point for the bait. So placing the swivel in the center of the mackerel's head just a bit up from the nose will cause the bait to dig down a bit in the water and swim, even without a chin weight.
Push the rigging needle through the top of the Spanish mackerel's head. Make sure the hole is perfectly centered on the top of the bait, otherwise the bait will pull to one side or spin.
Pull the floss through the bottom of the jaw and push the needle through the side of the head to begin stitching the gills closed.
Pull the thread diagonally across the bottom of the Spanish mackerel's head and push the needle through the hard part of the pectoral fins. Cross the thread under the bait's head and push the needle back through the original hole in the gill plate, to form a strong "X" pattern.
Come back up through the head in the original spot where you started.
Thread a swivel onto both tag ends of the rigging floss.
With the swivel resting on top of the mackerel's head, thread your needle through the hole you made to close the gill plates.
Cross over the top of the bait's head and feed the needle through the mackerel using the hole you made in the pectoral fin.
Repeat the process for the other tag end to tighten the swivel in place, crossing the threads over the top of the bait's head.
Tie an overhand knot with the tag ends and cinch it tight.
Tie a second finish knot using both tag ends at once.
Cinch the knot tight. This will keep the rig tight so you can cut the tag ends.
If you're planning to troll fast for pelagics like marlin, sewing the mouth shut provides some good insurance. Take a small length of floss and run it up under the bottom of the bait's jaw and exit through the top of the bait's head.
Secure the floss with an overhand knot followed by a finish knot.
You will also want to sew up the incision made to remove the bait's innards so the bait does not wash out. Make a number of cross stitches along the belly incision.
When you reach the end, cross back over the original stitches in the opposite direction.
Secure with an overhand knot followed by a finish knot, and trim the tag ends
Crimp your circle hook to the leader (not shown) and feed the point of the hook through the swivel. The nice thing about this rig is you can prepare several Spanish mackerel and keep them in the ice chest. When you need to deploy a new bait, just grab a leader with a circle hook, run the hook through the swivel and drop the Spanish mackerel in the water. It's that easy.

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