Trolling for Spanish mackerel is a great way to locate fish when searching a large area. According to John Boy Koonce, a Charleston-area guide, you can make trolling as simple or as complex as you like; it’s a good way to fish with clients with children who aren’t as accomplished with tackle.
Three basic trolling rigs for Spanish mackerel include the planer rig, the Carolina rig and the jig-and-spoon rig. All three incorporate the same basic components: a 15- to 20-foot section of heavy monofilament or fluorocarbon leader between the weight and the bait — almost always a gold or silver Clark Spoon or Diamond Jig, but occasionally a chrome or silver Rat-L-Trap.
The planer rig uses a No. 1 or No. 2 trolling planer to take they lure deep without the need for heavy sinkers. While in trolling position, they run at a 45-degree angle. When a fish is hooked, the planer returns to the surface, allowing you to fight the fish without interference.
Koonce prefers a Carolina rig because it’s quick to deploy, can be cast into place and trolls closer to the surface than a planer. A Clark Spoon or Diamond Jig is the terminal tackle.
The jig-and-spoon rig utilizes a 3-way swivel to provide weight to the rig and a second hook, a bucktail jig. The weight of the bucktail can be adjusted to run deeper or shallower and frequently results in multiple hook-ups when a fish strikes one bait, causing other fish in the school to zero in on the struggling fish.