When Rigging Up for Kingfish the very first thing you MUST do is get a copy of all the fishing regulations in your area to include closed seasons, bag and size limits, and gear type restrictions.
For fishing knots, the two best books that I always recommend are Bob McNally’s “Fishermen’s Knots, Fishing Rigs, and How to Use Them” and Vic Dunaway’s “Baits, Rigs, and Tackle”. Get both of them. Combined they are the Bible of fishing knots. Once you have learned at least the ‘improved clinch knot’ and the maybe the ‘uni knot’ for monofilament, look for the ‘haywire twist’ for single strand wire. If you are new to this type of fishing don’t get braided line or any of the super braids yet.
You will need to tie the haywire twist if you are fishing for toothy fish like kings and Spanish mackerel. There’s one other knot that I have used almost exclusively for monofilament and braid and that’s the Gene Turner Ti-Zit knot. You need the little tool as shown in the diagram, but they can be easily made from a wooden dowel or a small piece of high density poly.
Once you have learned these few knots, you are almost ready to go fishing. Of course the more knots you know the more versatile you will find your fishing gear to be. The haywire twist for single strand wire will be the most difficult one to learn and the knot that will take the most practice at home. Practice with 30# test as it is easier on your fingers and it’s fine for most every day fishing. When tournament Fishing, I use #4 (or 40#) coffee colored single strand wire (don’t even think of using multi-strand wire, kings won’t touch it). Another tip for wire is practice in front of the TV at night. You will find the knot in either of the two books I recommended or there are hundreds of videos on the Internet that will show you how. Just practice. When you go fishing make sure you have a bunch of these wire leaders made up and in your tackle box. You can roll them up with the hook and swivel attached into a small plastic bag or even cheap sandwich bags so they don’t get tangled, just be sure you’ve got a lot of them. For Spanish mackerel I only use a short wire, maybe 6-8 inches long, but for kings I make sure I have at least two foot long wire leaders. If you plan to get into a kingfish tournament, all my tournament wires are 6 feet long. A big king can beat your mono or braided line in half with his tail in the first run. For just plain old fun fishing or fishing for dinner a 1-2 foot wire is fine. You will find the wires come back after one or two fish looking like a coil spring. Cut it off, put it in the trash, and tie on a new wire/hook rig. That’s why you need so many when you go fishing.
Nest decision; what am I going to use for bait/lures? The easiest, most common, and effective lure is the silver spoon. I’ve used Clark Spoons for my entire fishing career because I knew the inventor and his family and their spoons catch fish! I always had a variety of sizes from 0/0 to size #4 in silver and in gold. They now have flashy colored decals available, but as long as you have a variety of sizes, you will be able to catch practically anything that swims in saltwater. As for your swivels; don’t buy the cheapest ones you can find. Get coffee
colored ones in a number of sizes. The most common one I use for kings is Berkley brand McMahon Swivels in size 7. They are coffee colored and tiny enough so they can’t be easily seen in the water and they are 60# test. I keep a variety of sizes of these swivels in my tackle drawers in 1, 3, 5, 7, and 1/0 and they are all coffee colored (black). For tournament fishing I use only Sampo swivels in the dark color. Would you really risk losing a $20,000 fish for a cheap swivel?
Hooks; If you are going to fish for any fish classified as a reef fish in the Gulf of Mexico, you are required to use a non-stainless, non-offset circle hook when using natural baits. For kings(pelagic fish) I use Mustad 3407’s in a
double hook rig with size 3/0 tied to the wire and a size 4/0 hanging in the crook of the 3/0 (for tournaments I move up one size to 4/0 & 5/0). To get the eye of the larger hook over the smaller, you will need to use a pair of wire cutters to slightly open the eye of the larger hook. Use the tip of the wire cutters as if you were going to ‘cut’ through the open space of the eye. DO NOT bend the eye sideways with a pair of pliers because when you bend it back IT WILL BREAK. It only takes the tiniest movement of the eye for the smaller hook to go through it and then you can use regular pliers to close the eye tight again. Hook the smaller hook through the nose of your bait and let the larger hook just hang. You will find that every fish you catch will be hooked on the second hook. If you are gong to live bait for Spanish mackerel just go down to a 2/0 & 3/0 or even a 1/0 & 2/0. Personally I prefer to troll spoons for Spanish though.
If you just don’t want to live bait fish for kings, no problem. I troll large Clark spoons, large L.B. Huntington Drone Spoons, and of course the Head Start Fishing System. I also pull lipped lures such as Rapala X-Rap or a Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnow, or a Bomber A-Salt. They are all great lures and are perfect for almost all species in all salt waters.
Sometimes the kings just don’t want to eat on or near the surface. That’s when you break out the downrigger or planers. For the economy method you can use torpedo sinkers 5-8 feet in front of your lure or live bait but even though I used them occasionally I never liked them because it was a pain to land a big fish with that sinker swinging around right at face level. If you own a downrigger then you already know how to use it. If you can’t afford a downrigger right now, you can use a planer. Planers can be
bought in a variety of sizes like most other tackle. You can use the smaller sizes tied directly to your fishing line but you will need a strong rod, small planer and heavier test line. The other option is to Tie your planer to a cleat on the stern of the boat then attach your fishing line via a rubber band rig on a snap swivel on the planer line and let it down. I never wanted to rig that way running charters because it was just too much work. So for the deeper kings I would pull large lipped Rapalas or the Head Start fishing System and always had good luck as long as the fish were there.
For fishing with live bait be sure to check out my other posts on live bait. You’ll also find trolling tips, bait well tips, cast net tips, using oxygen in your well, just about anything you want to know about fishing in salt water.
Rigging Up For Kingfish
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