So, what fishing gear do I need to catch mackerel on feathers?
Firstly, it’s worth mentioning that if the mackerel are close in and in significant numbers it doesn’t really matter what you use. With a broomshank, some bent nails and last year’s Christmas decorations you’d still probably be able to pull in some fish, but for those days when the mackerel are scarce (such as at the beginning or end of the season) using the right gear may mean the difference between catching or not. So here’s the nitty gritty on gear:-
Which is the best type of fishing rod for feathering?
It has to be a beachcaster or surfcaster every time. It may mean the difference between putting you among the fish and dropping your tackle short of the fish. Sometimes the extra distance is needed to get you into a decent depth of water or, if you are fishing straight into deep water from marks such as Berry Head or Hopes Nose, it may simply to put you among mackerel if they happen to be a long way out.
Which type of fishing reel should I use?
Again, if a little extra distance if needed then a multiplier is the way ahead. Simply put, you can cover more ground with it. Now, some asshat will always argue that you can get the same distance from a fixed spool reel, but then they’ve probably just been sniffing too much bait enhancer (take tournament casting championships, for example – although fixed spools are still seen in this event where distance means everything, the preferred reel is definitely a multiplier.) Sure, when it goes wrong during a multiplier cast then it often goes horribly wrong. The resulting bird’s nest will probably relegate your favourite reel to the bottom of your tackle bag until you find a chainsaw big enough to cut all the crap away and buy another spool of line to replace it, but once you get the hang of a multiplier you’ll never look back. I guarantee it. When it comes to distance casting, they’re the dogs doo-dahs.
You don’t need some big-ass multiplier capable of towing a trawler fleet back into harbour though, something like a Penn 525, Daiwa 7HT or any reel with a quickish retrieve will do the job admirably – but remember you do still have to match your line to the reel and/or vice versa. Which brings us nicely onto the next point. Line.
What line should I use?
15lb mono is manly enough. The lighter the line, the farther you’ll be able to pump it. If like me you’re a braid freak, you can up it to 20-25lb if you fancy (depending on what other types of fishing you regularly do) as, generally speaking, for the same breaking strain, braid will be roughly half the line diameter of your mono (and sadly twice the price – at least!) But either mono or braid, it really doesn’t matter. It’s not like you need to feel the bottom or sense every little nibble.
For the last word on line, remember that you’ll probably be wellying that lead out from time to time, so ALWAYS USE A SHOCK LEADER! As a rule of thumb, you should have 10lb of breaking strain for every ounce of lead.
Also, remember to check out the mono thickness of your mackerel trace since this comes after your shock-leader. A few years back, I remember thinking I was safe with a 5oz lead and 60lb shockleader and tried to hit France on my first cast – only to find that the trace line was some faggoty Chinese shit more suited to mullet fishing. It cracked off half way down the trace. I’ve no idea where the 5 kajillion mph lead (still accompanied by a pair of foil covered hooks) ended up. Looking up and down the beach, though, I didn’t notice any other fishermen slumping to the ground so I counted myself exceedingly lucky – as would they if they’d realised what a chimp I’d been not to check the breaking strain of the mackerel trace first.
So, with rod, reel, line and shock leader covered, that just leaves 2 all important aspects of feathering for mackerel: the ‘feathers’ themselves and how to use them effectively.