Spanish mackerel biting strong at Grand Strand piers

Spanish mackerel
Robert Winter shows off one of dozens of Spanish mackerel caught yesterday from Apache Pier on a straw rig.

Straw rigs are bringing in limits of Spanish mackerel

The Spanish mackerel are running strong along Grand Strand beaches, and pier anglers are catching them in big numbers. From Apache Pier down to Springmaid Pier, these fish are coming through in schools, and anglers are taking advantage of them.

Some anglers are catching a few with Gotcha Plugs, but the bulk of the fish are biting straw rigs. Straw rigs are some of the simplest rigs to make and to fish, but they do take patience. When a school runs through, an angler can catch multiple Spanish on a single cast. Likewise, the time in between schools can seem to drag on.

A straw rig consists of six or seven No. 4 hooks with a small piece of red straw or white straw slipped over each hook. Most anglers alternate colors and space the hooks out about a foot apart. A 4-ounce bank sinker is added to one end of the rig. The other end has a swivel that is tied to the main line.

These rigs are fished vertically

Very similar to Sabiki rigs, straw rigs are easy to make, but some anglers also purchase mackerel tree rigs which are essentially the same thing, but already tied. And instead of the 4-ounce sinker, some anglers use large spoons. This adds the necessary weight while also giving the fish an extra lure to bite.

Long rods are usually used when fishing these rigs, and instead of making a cast, the angler simply opens the bail and drops the line straight down. Once the sinker hits bottom, they raise the rod tip, then lower it back down, over and over. It can seem mundane when nothing is happening. But once a school comes through, it’s more than worth the effort.

Spanish mackerel
Ricky Slate and youth angler “Dunkin” limited out on Spanish mackerel on the Apache Pier with red and white straw rigs.

Most anglers using this technique use a device called a rod rocker, which is a rod holder that pivots up and down instead of staying stationary. Other anglers just use the pier railing as a fulcrum, pivoting the rod up and down. This makes it easier on the arms, especially during a lull in action when the payoff takes a while.

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About Brian Cope 1998 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of He has won numerous awards for his writing, photography, and videography. He is a retired Air Force combat communications technician, and has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina. You can reach him at

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