Car wrecks, floods, and tornadoes — these are among the hazards typically considered by insurance companies. However, if an actuary were to calculate the survival chances of monofilament line’s collision with a set of dagger-sharp teeth moving at 30 miles per hour, your kingfish rig would never get a policy.
Even if an attacking kingfish spares your mono, this predator feeds by slicing meals into immobilized chunks and gobbling the easy mouthfuls. Anglers taming these wily speedsters use an assortment of rig designs to put the brakes on one of the sea’s most fleet-footed denizens.
SNARING THE SPEEDSTERS
King mackerel roam the entire Gulf of Mexico, but wherever they go, the essential element for consistently bagging the big ones is a stinger rig. In its simplest form, the stinger comprises a front hook set through the nose, mouth or forehead of a baitfish and a treble hook connected to the first hook with a 3- to 5-inch piece of wire affixed to the eye or bend of the lead hook. Essentially, the lead hook just tethers the baitfish, while the trailing stinger usually ends up snaring the king.
Rigs occasionally hook kings in the mouth, but other times the treble grabs the kings in the face, gill covers or head area. Either way, stingers beat kingfish at their own game by ensuring that the bait bites back from practically any attack angle.
The big “smoker” kings are keen-eyed and cautious, so it often takes some creative rigging to tempt and fool them. With considerations such as water clarity, weather conditions and expected fish size influencing specifics, rig options are innumerable, but these specialized configurations cover just about any kingfish scenario.
MAKING MANY POINTS
Large live baits like jumbo blue runners, ladyfish and mullet offer more meat for a king to bite, so you’ll want to protect this real estate with multiple stingers. Big baits intimidate smaller kingfish, but those hefty enough to merit extended rigs appeal to the smokers you want. Considering the biting power of a kingfish in the 30-plus-pound range, No. 4 leader wire and No. 4 or 5 wire on the stinger segments is a good bet for Gulf waters.
Starting with a single 2/0 lead hook, add trailing segments wired to No. 4 treble hooks. Some anglers will “peg” all stingers on a big-bait rig, as this keeps the hooks right near the strike zone. However, others let the last stinger dangle because this provides more mobility for the hook to snag kings that may miss the bait on an awkward pass.
Converting standard stingers into multiple rigs is simply a matter of attaching additional trailing segments. Conversely, lengthy rigs are shortened to suit bait needs by clipping off unneeded stingers.