What Is The Best Fishing Bait For Mackerel?

Last Updated on September 19, 2023

For a good reason, anglers enjoy mackerel fishing. These fish are prized by commercial and recreational fishermen for their tasty flesh, making them a favorite catch. To catch fish, however, choosing the correct bait can be crucial, just like with any other type of fishing.

This article will give you a thorough overview of picking the ideal mackerel fishing bait. By the end of this article, you will have all the knowledge necessary to improve your chances of a productive mackerel fishing trip. Let’s get going!

What Is The Best Time To Fish For Mackerel?

Mackerel are best caught at dusk or dawn, and at high tide. Spring high tides are often the best because they push bait fish closer to shore, attracting mackerel. Overall, Mackerel can be caught at any time.

Understanding Mackerel Feeding Habits

Understanding Mackerel Feeding Habits

Mackerel can be caught using a variety of baits and are renowned for their ravenous appetite. However, you must be aware of their feeding habits to improve your chances of a successful catch.

Prey, such as small fish, squid, and crustaceans, attract mackerel.

Because they are also drawn to motion, using a bait that imitates the movement of the prey they would usually catch can be especially effective.

It’s crucial to consider the time of day and location when mackerel fishing. The best times to try your luck may be in the early morning or late afternoon when mackerel are typically most active. Additionally, mackerel frequently congregate in areas with strong currents, so search for these areas.

Types of Fishing Bait for Mackerel

When fishing for mackerel, there are numerous baits to choose from. Each type of bait has benefits and drawbacks, so choose wisely.

  1. Lures: Lures can imitate the movement of small fish, attracting the attention of hungry mackerels. They are, however, more expensive than other types of bait and may necessitate some skill to use effectively.

  2. Feathers: Another popular choice for mackerel fishing is feathers, which consist of several small hooks dressed in colorful feathers or other materials. They are relatively inexpensive and easy to use, making them an excellent choice for beginners.
Sabiki Rigs

3. Sabiki Rigs: Sabiki rigs are multi-hook rigs explicitly designed for catching bait fish, which can then be used to catch mackerel. They can be effective in areas with a lot of bait fish but may be less effective in areas with fewer fish.

4. Live Bait: Using live bait, such as sand eels or small fish, can be highly effective for catching mackerel. However, it can also be more challenging to obtain and may require more skill to use effectively.

How to Choose the Best Fishing Bait for Mackerel

There are a number of important factors to take into account when selecting the best mackerel fishing bait. The most effective bait may depend on the water’s temperature, the time of day, and the weather.

It’s crucial to experiment with various techniques and types of bait in order to find the one that works best for your circumstances. While some fishermen might find that live bait works best, others might favor artificial lures or cut bait.

I’ve gathered examples of productive mackerel fishing outings to get you started, highlighting the most effective lures and strategies in each instance.

You can increase your chances of catching something and have more fun on the water by experimenting with different methods and picking up tips from these examples.

Keep in mind that being adaptable and willing to try new things is the key to selecting the best bait for mackerel fishing. You can find the lure and strategies that work best for you by keeping an open mind and experimenting with various methods.

What Is The Season To Fish For Mackerel?

The season for mackerel in the south of the United Kingdom is longer than in the north. In the South West, the mackerel run usually begins in late spring. In the far north, the season may start later, in the middle to late summer.

Massive spawning shoals of mackerel break up into smaller shoals that ascend the shallows around the British coast in June and July. They gorge themselves like adolescents on herring, sprats, sand eels, and whatever else they can find to snap at. After the craziness of Spring has subsided, the mackerel remain on the coast into Autumn and beyond. I caught them in Cornwall on Christmas Eve 2021.

Mackerels have contrasting black and blue stripes. This pattern mimics the movement of light on the water’s surface. It makes it difficult for birds to see fish from above and confuses their vision.

Winter is a good time to catch mackerel, and the largest fish are usually caught. In the south, mackerel can be caught fairly easily in December. However, the best time to catch mackerel is in the early summer.


How To Fish Mackerel With Feathers?

When fishing for mackerel, it’s common to see anglers cast to the horizon. However, mackerel are frequently found close to the shore as they drive baitfish up against harbor walls or into harbors.

To locate the fish, I recommend casting close in and gradually increasing your distance with each cast.

It couldn’t be easier to catch mackerel feathers. Cast away your feathers. Allow them to sink to the bottom, then wind in until the feathers are a few feet above the sea bed with your rod held high. Then, while retrieving your feathers, jig the rod in an upward and downward motion to see your feathers flutter through the water columns like fleeing baitfish.

When using this method, be aware that mackerel are schooling fish, and it is common to hook more than one fish at the same time, making it a very enjoyable method to fish.

When it comes to fishing tackle, there is no finesse required in the fishing gear. We require a rod capable of bringing in multiple fish at once as well as hauling fish up the shore or harbor walls.

To deal with the rigors of feather fishing, I recommend a 10-12ft rod with a fairly heavy casting weight. We’ll need a 60-size saltwater fixed-spool reel. This provides the necessary cranking power to deal with the numerous catches that you will undoubtedly encounter.

How To Fish Bait For Mackerel Like A Pro?

Once attached to your leader, use mackerel feathers or a sabiki rig, along with a lead or metal jig for casting weight.

Cast as far as you can and tighten up a few seconds after the lead hits the water. Then, like a big lever, immediately begin the retrieve by simply pulling the rod back in one continuous sweeping motion while keeping the butt at waist height.

The rod is then brought forward and down while reeling in the slack line quickly, and the process is repeated.

This is referred to as pumping and winding. When you hit a shoal of mackerel, everything suddenly solidifies and it’s simply a matter of slowly winding them in.

Cast as far as you can with a small single lure and let it sink for a few seconds before beginning a fast, erratic retrieve without moving the rod too much. The lure will have its own action built in.

If you’re not getting bites, try letting the lure or feathers sink for a little longer before retrieving – mackerel feed both near the surface and near the bottom, so figuring out where they’re hanging out is critical to getting a good haul.

Work your way up the water column until you find them.

It’s thrilling stuff, mackerel fishing, especially when you have a full set of six lively fish on the line at once – it’ll put a pleasing bend in your rod!


Using the right bait for mackerel fishing can increase your chances of a successful catch and make your time on the water more enjoyable. I encourage you to experiment with various bait types and techniques to find your personal favorites.

Tight lines!

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