The King Mackerel has a long thin streamlined body that is typically dark blue to black dorsally, with iridescent areas of blue and green spots with silver to whitish sides. The King Mackerel has two dorsal fins separated by a deep notch and a series of 7 to 10 finlets posterior of the anal and second dorsal fins. The lateral line starts high and drops sharply below the second dorsal fin, a key to identification. The caudal fin is deeply forked and lunate. It has a large oblique mouth armed with 30 triangular sharp teeth on both sides. The King Mackerel reaches a maximum of 1, 6 meters in length and up to 100 pounds, and has a life span of 11 years. The King Mackerel is a pelagic carnivore that feeds primarily on crustaceans (squid and shrimp) and small schooling fishes (anchovies, menhaden, sardines, etc.). Immature fish have yellow to yellow-orange spots on their sides.
When targeting these toothy critters you are going to need a rod with a good amount of lifting power, yet you want a rod that is great to cast. Match the rod with a high quality machined large arbor reel with a capacity to handle a heavy fly line and a reasonable amount of backing.
There are two ways which can be used by themselves or combined to target King Mackerel. Anglers can blind cast with the use of use chum or without chum. The tactics are varied slightly depending on what works best at the particular venue.
The skipper will target structure like a pinnacle, wreck or drop-off that is not too deep as to allow you to target the fish drawn to it. He will then position the boat as to allow you to cast up current and get your fly to sink to the structure. Even though you will be blind casting, with the aid of modern day eco sounders you will have a good idea weather there are fish present or not. Use a long leader and a fly that will sink quicker than your fly-line, as to allow your target species to see the fly before the fly-line. Always use a full fly-line whether it be a full-sink or sink-tip. Reason being is that often a fish will take at full length and you do not want to end up trying to set the hook with backing or braided running line in your hand.
Often the combination the above mentioned tactics and the use of live bait or chunking works best as it allows you to draw fish from deeper areas. Chunking is the use of finely cut up fish pieces thrown in the water to make a chum line. Once you have found your target area its often best to set anchor or a parachute as to allow you to concentrate on one spot.
Blind casting with the aid of live bait
With the use of a sounder the skipper will target a pinnacle, wreck or drop-off which is holding fish. Once he is convinced a suitable area has been found communication will be made with a crew member to start chumming, at the same time he will imitate predators attacking a bait ball by doing a series of tight circles with the boat After a couple of rotations the engines will be turned off and the chumming will continue. It will take a few minutes, but this will often bring the fish to the surface allowing you to get a few casts in. The secret is to use just enough live bait to keep them coming to the surface as too much will take the emphasis away from your fly. When selecting your fly pattern always try to match the size and colour of your live bait. This is a process that needs lots of live bait, an experienced skipper and crew.
- Fly Rod: Quick action 9 foot 10 to 12 weight fly rod.
- Reel & Backing: Saltwater series reel that can hold 400 or more meters of 50 – 60lbs braid. A Bimini Twist to Double Surgions should be tied into the braid, following which the fly line and backing should be joined using the loop to loop method.
- Fly Lines: 500 to 750 grain sink-tip line with 50lbs braided loops nail knotted on both ends.
- Leaders: No 5 – 50lbs single strand wire or 40lbs Berkley seven strand steel. When using No 5 – 50lbs single strand wire we always match the diameter of the mono to the diameter of the steel.
- Knots: No 5 – 50lbs strand wire: Fly to leader – Haywire Twist; Wire to Leader improved leftys non slip; Leader to Braided loop Perfection Loop. Or 40lbs Berkley seven strand steel: Fly to Leader – Barrel knot with two rotations; Steel to Mono Two Barrel knots back to back with the mono having three rotations and the steel two; Leader to Braided loop Perfection Loop.NB mono has a stretch factor and a tendency to slip before seating, when tying your knots make sure you leave a tag and seat them property with the use of pliers. But in saying this be extremely careful not to stress the knot.
- Flies: Synthetic Mega Clousers and Deceivers in chartreuse and white or black and white, heavily tied on a Gamakatsu SL12S in 4/0 – 6/0 (Link to fly patterns)
- Sunglasses: Dark amber or blue mirror grey lenses.
Before leaving on your trip you will be briefed in detail by the FlyCastaway guides as to exactly what fly patterns you are going to need and how you should prepare your tackle. For all our destinations we have compiled a comprehensive tackle list.