Feathering for mackeral

Mackerel caught fresh on a multi-hook feathering rig is hard to beat as bait for a day’s sea fishing. But did you know that cod, bass, coalfish and pollack also fall to the right feathers?

Hooks dressed with feathers are often used to catch mackerel for use as a bait, as well as for whiting, pollack, cod and coalfish. Less commonly, bass, ling, conger, haddock and garfish are taken by ‘feathering’. The tackle is set among a shoal and jerked up and down to simulate the erratic movement of small fish. The use of several feathered hooks helps create the impression of plentiful food. Once a shoal has been located a greedy mackerel, whiting or codling can often be taken on each of the hooks.

Boat or pier

This technique has been employed for generations in Scottish and North Eastern coastal waters, but has now spread to the South. Feathering is most frequently prac-tised from a boat, using either a rod or a handline, wherever shoaling occurs. Pier anglers, again using either tackle, can also take advantage of incoming shoals.

The rig for feathering consists of up to six feathered hooks on traces or ‘snoods’ of about 5in, which are attached to the reel line. A line of 15-20 lb b.s. Should be used, for with a fish on every hook it will have to take a considerable load when being reeled in to a boat or a pier. The snoods should also be strong enough to avoid losing any fish when hauling in the catch and should be set 9-10in apart so that they do not tangle. The blood loop dropper is the strongest and most reliable knot to use to attach snoods to the main reel line. A fairly heavy lead should be used at the end of the reel line, for a smaller weight may take a long while to sink, by which time the shoal may have moved on, the feathers not having had a chance to attract them. For mackerel a size 1 or 1/0 hook is suitable; for cod a larger hook, a size 3 for example, is recommended together with plain white feathers.

Feathering

Mackerel caught fresh on a multi-hook feathering rig is hard to beat as bait for a day’s sea fishing. But did you know that cod, bass, coalfish and pollack also fall to the right feathers?

Hooks dressed with feathers are often used to catch mackerel for use as a bait, as well as for whiting, pollack, cod and coalfish. Less commonly, bass, ling, conger, haddock and garfish are taken by ‘feathering’. The tackle is set among a shoal and jerked up and down to simulate the erratic movement of small fish. The use of several feathered hooks helps create the impression of plentiful food. Once a shoal has been located a greedy mackerel, whiting or codling can often be taken on each of the hooks.

Boat or pier

This technique has been employed for generations in Scottish and North Eastern coastal waters, but has now spread to the South. Feathering is most frequently prac-tised from a boat, using either a rod or a handline, wherever shoaling occurs. Pier anglers, again using either tackle, can also take advantage of incoming shoals.

The rig for feathering consists of up to six feathered hooks on traces or ‘snoods’ of about 5in, which are attached to the reel line. A line of 15-20 lb b.s. Should be used, for with a fish on every hook it will have to take a considerable load when being reeled in to a boat or a pier. The snoods should also be strong enough to avoid losing any fish when hauling in the catch and should be set 9-10in apart so that they do not tangle. The blood loop dropper is the strongest and most reliable knot to use to attach snoods to the main reel line. A fairly heavy lead should be used at the end of the reel line, for a smaller weight may take a long while to sink, by which time the shoal may have moved on, the feathers not having had a chance to attract them. For mackerel a size 1 or 1/0 hook is suitable; for cod a larger hook, a size 3 for example, is recommended together with plain white feathers.

When fishing for mackerel as bait (which is hard to beat for its appeal to many species) a six-hook rig will provide a plentiful supply. A group of boat anglers must remember though to be careful when swinging these multi-hook rigs in board, especially in a wind, for painful accidents and lost fishing time can result from lack of forethought.

Three feathers only

Taking large catches of mackerel in this way – and they are extremely easy to catch – is regarded by some as unsporting, and is very wasteful if, as is often the case, many fish are killed, when not needed for bait or food. This is all the more serious when the mackerel, like other species, is being depleted too rapidly by the growth of commercial fishing. In any case, when gathering bait is not the objective, the sport achieved with a single feather especially one made to one’s own design, is much more enjoyable. Combine this rig with a lighter rod and line for best effect. Single feathers provide a good opportunity for experimentation and, with practice, for fishing selectively. Bass, for example, have been caught on a lure made from a salmon fly to which two white feathers are added.

When fishing for larger species such as cod, coalfish and pollack, it is impractical to use more than three hooks as the weight of these fish makes them considerably more dif-ficult to pull aboard the boat than mackerel or whiting.

One American innovation is the feathered jig, marketed with the pollack fisherman in mind. A bunch of dyed chicken feathers spills out of a white rubber or plastic collar behind a flasher strip shaped like a large head. With a barrel swivel above the head, the nylon reel line passes through the feathery body to a swivel and large single hook. Its finished appearance and the jigging technique is said to simulate a squid’s characteristic, jerky move-ments through the water. It is claim-ed that the feathered jig will take pollack as successfully as king ragworm – a natural bait in increasingly short supply.

Traces of feathers can be bought ready-made from tackle dealers, but it is cheaper to make them yourself, using chicken feathers. These, taken from the neck, where the length and quality are best, are used in bright shades of blue, green, orange or red. They are whipped firmly on to sea hooks of a size suitable for the fish sought, and are then ready to be attached to a snood of reel line.

 

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.