How to Set Up a Mackerel Rig

Updated March 28, 2017

Mackerel are a popular sport fish for beach, surf and pier anglers. Known for tremendous fights, these species are found around dock pilings, shallow reefs and along the edge of piers. Mackerel tend to be group fish, meaning that where you find one you will likely find schools. Take advantage of this school mentality and rig mackerel setups with multiple hooks and live bait to enhance your chances for strikes.

Tie a swivel to the end of the fishing line using a Palomar knot. Clip the large 10/O barbed hook to the swivel.

Tie the three treble hooks spaced 8 inches apart to the wire leader. Your set-up should see three treble hooks along the leader ending with the large barbed hook.

Clip the egg sinker to the swivel and let it swing around the line on the swivel wires.

Cut frozen squid or mullet and attach them to the hooks. Make sure the bait goes onto at least one of the barbs on the treble hooks and goes through the curve and barb on the large hook at the end of the line.

Cast the set-up out into the surf or over the pier and wait for mackerel to hit. When a strike occurs, quickly jerk and snap the tip of the rod up to set the hook into the fish.

Things You'll Need

  • Wire leader line
  • Single 10/O barbed hook
  • 3 8/O treble hooks
  • Swivel
  • Egg sinker (barrel sinker)
  • Live bait (cut frozen squid)
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About the Author

A former Alaskan of 20 years, Eric Cedric now resides in California. He's published in "Outside" and "Backpacker" and has written a book on life in small-town Alaska, "North by Southeast." Cedric was a professional mountain guide and backcountry expedition leader for 18 years. He worked in Russia, Iceland, Greece, Turkey and Belize. Cedric attended Syracuse University and is a private pilot.