What this rig is all about:
This rig is for catching the keeper kingfish, or king mackerel, off of a boat while trolling offshore around the Atlantic ocean and in the Gulf of Mexico. This specific rig uses a planer setup with an artificial lure, is super simple, and works very well. Note though during the retrieval of the fish once it’s on the hook, that retrieval requires hand lining. This makes it so that you don’t need any type of quick release mechanism which maintains this rig’s simplicity. Read on to learn more!
Here is a list of materials/items that you will need to make this rig:
Links include pricing info on Amazon and are the suggested products for this rig.
- 80-100 pound braided main line
- 50-60 pound mono leader line (100ft in length)
- 300 lb snap swivels
- Planer (can use different sizes for getting to different depths)
- Yoyo Hand Reel
- Offshore spoon lure
Recommended rod and reel (conventional):
- Penn Squall Conventional Fishing Reel 50
- 30-60 pound class rod
- The first step is to connect the main braided line to your heavy snap swivel. You can use your favorite secure knot here but I recommend a palomar knot:
Snap the freely moving ring of the planer onto your snap swivel. That’s all you need to do for this part of the rig.
- The second half of the setup is just to rig up the leader and have it ready for when you go out to fish. Tie another heavy snap swivel to one end of roughly 100 foot long 50-60 pound monofilament leader line and the lure to the other end. Then, for ease of storage and transport, wrap the leader rig around a yoyo hand reel. Note: You can use a wire leader but it is not a requirement. If you do choose to use a wire leader, use roughly 6-12 inches, no heavier than 4-5 maximum.
- And that’s all the setup needed. Read on to learn how you would actually use this rig on the water.
How to use this rig:
You can find kingfish anywhere from close to the shore to about 150-200 ft of water. But typically, in the middle of the bell curve, the kingfish will be around 70-130 ft deep in the water column.
Kingfish are going to be where the bait fish are. They eat all day long and are very aggressive. If you stick with that bait, then you will catch kingfish as long as you are with the bait.
How do you find the bait though? A good place to start is to look near structure, wrecks and reefs in that 70-130 ft depth range. You can bounce from reef to reef and try your luck. However, if the bait are on the surface, the kingfish will be there right with the bait. It is not recommended to go blindly trolling. You should find the bait fish first and then drop the bait in the water. 9 times out of 10, you will catch more fish this way.
The steps to trolling this rig are:
- First, with the leader rig (not connected to the main line), let out all 100 feet of the leader line from the leader wheel into the water while you’re moving at 5-6 knots (roughly 6-7 mph). Be sure to keep in mind when the last bit of line is about to leave the wheel because you don’t want to lose your leader. Don’t let go of the line.
- Once the length of the leader is trolling behind you in the water, connect the leader’s snap swivel to the end of the planer which is attached to the main line snap swivel via the freely moving metal ring.
- Now, everything is connected to the rod and reel. Let out the main line with the planer setup in the “set” configuration) (see below picture) into the water anywhere between 50 to 100 feet behind the boat with the reel in free spool. Once it is at the length behind the boat that you want, set the drag light enough so that planar is still in the set position. You don’t want the drag so tight that if you hit a wave, that the wave’s resistance trips the planer. You want the drag to almost creep off if you hit a little bit of resistance in the water. It should look like this:
Once the fish hits the lure, the planer will “trip” and essentially unset itself so that there’s less resistance in the water. The “tripped” configuration looks like this:
- Once the fish is on, you’re going to reel the line in until the planer gets to the rod tip. At that point, you need to start hand lining the fish in. You should be wearing gloves for this. As you are retrieving the line, allow it to feed into the water and not in the boat. This will allow you to let out some line if the kingfish decides to run and it won’t get stuck on anything inside the boat.
Some things to keep in mind:
- For best results, you want to troll two of these rigs out at one time. However, they should be far apart in both distance behind the boat as well as depth in the water. You don’t want to get these tangled.
- For different depths, try using different planers to get down to those depths.
- You can switch out the spoon lure with a squid skirt and strip bait (sardines, bonito, etcs) setup. In fact, if you’re trolling two of these rigs, you should have two different baits/lures on to see what is working for that particular day. Once you find out what is biting, then you can switch that setup on to both rods.
This rig isn’t pretty or fancy but if you just want to put kingfish in the cooler, then this rig will work! Go out there and test it out! Let me know if this rig is working for you and rate it at the top of this article.