so, what do you want to catch…

When putting together an optimum handlining rig for trolling the first thing you need to factor in is what exactly you want to catch. For instance, if you want to catch mackerel your rig would look something like this.

In my experience, this rig seriously rocks and is a perfect example of a highly evolved trolling rig for fish like mackerel, bass, pollack, and pretty much anything you’ll come across in that general fish under ten pounds zone. That said you’ll mostly catch mackerel and, more often than not, a LOT of mackerel.

While highly evolved the rig is really dead simple. Some line (net seine is my choice) followed by a planer to get the line down a bit with some (three to six) mackerel feathers on a monofilament leader with a spoon or small lure on the end.

Did I say this rig was deadly? While sailing in the English channel our biggest problem was that we were catching too many fish and it seemed that every time we put it in the water we’d have six or seven mackerel on the line.

Seriously, this rig will have you looking for a “101 Recipes for Mackerel” cookbook.

Of course, while this is a great rig for mackerel it’s hardly the thing to drag behind your boat when looking for pelagic species like Wahoo, Mahi, and Tuna which are on a whole different scale.

While sailing in the Med we mostly targeted Tuna and down here in the Caribbean we tend to look at Mahi as our fish of choice and gear up accordingly.

One issue you’ll need to address is what size of fish do you actually want to catch. Face it, most of us folk on sailboats don’t have huge freezers or the ability to process more than a finite amount of fish so knowing the size of fish you’re able to process and looking to catch is important. In our case, anything over twenty pounds starts being problematic while on passage so we optimize our rigging for fish towards a twenty-pound or so target range.

Yeah, I know of some cruisers who catch big Tuna, Marlin, and Mahi then grab some filets while dumping the rest of the fish overboard which is a practice we find abhorrent. Our preferred method is to release any fish larger than our needs but in most cases, the best practice is to target smaller fish whenever possible as catch and release often causes physical harm as well as being highly stressful to the fish.

More on the subject of handlines for trolling later.

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