How To Catch Spanish Mackerel: Tips and Techniques

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Mackerel, or Scomberomorus, are one of the most sort after fish in the oceans and can be found all over the world, and for good reason. From their explosive speed, their menacing teeth to their great taste, Mackerel are a great sport fish.

Spanish Mackerel

A google search will come up with hundreds of ways in how to catch Spanish mackerel, some work and some don’t.

In this post I will go through the best ways I have found to target the most popular and common types of mackerel you may encounter.

Most people when they head out to target mackerel will genuinely troll. While this technique does work, you are taking a lot of the fun out of catching them.

Therefore, techniques you use on one type, may not work or be the best for another type. During this post, I will explain the best baits, techniques, and most importantly, how to catch Spanish mackerel and keep catching them.

There are many species of mackerel. The techniques I have listed below work great on all of them, but some fish can be very picky, so employing a few different techniques are recommended to greater your chances of catching your bag limit. The first thing you need to remember is that these fish are pelagic, so you will need to put in the work to find them.

They can be found all year round in warmer climates, all you need to do is find the baitfish. In your colder climates, you will need to find those warm water currents, some nice drop-offs, and of course, those baitfish. For a list of the best lures for Spanish Mackerel check out my post at ‘Best Spanish Mackerel Lures’

Spanish Mackerel (Scomberomorus commerson)

Other names Narrow-barred mackerel

Size Range Common length — 50–80cm, Maximum length — 150cm


  • numerous thin, wavy vertical bands on the body (the number of bars increases from as few as 20 in a 40 cm specimen, to as many as 65 in a 150 cm specimen)
  • iridescent blue-grey back
  • silver sides with bluish reflections; juveniles frequently spotted

Distribution Coastal waters to depths of 15 m to 200 m (a pelagic species)

Spanish Mackerel

Of all the different types of mackerel, the Spanish also known as narrow-barred mackerel is the most sort after. This is because they can get to very large sizes, put up a great fight, and are really good eating as well. Spanish mackerel are found in coastal waters and are often associated with structures such as reef edges and drop-offs. They will often be found in waters with sharp temperature changes, current lines, or bait activity.


The first thing you need is wire. This is essential when targeting these fish. Spanish have razor-sharp teeth that will slice through mono like its butter. When thinking line class and drags, don’t go overboard as Spanish mackerel are clean fighters and therefore do not require the likes of 65-80lb or 20kg of drag. Start with 20lb and 10kg of drag and work your way up as the fish get bigger.

The second thing I would recommend you get is a good gaff. These fish will shake and flick themselves around a lot, potentially dislodging the hooks. You normally don’t get many chances with these fish when they are next to the boat, so a good gaff is imperative. Check out my review on some of the best gaffs around at the moment at Fishing Gaffs.


When trolling for Spanish mackerel the easiest method is to wire on a couple of large 20cm+ fast running lures over varying depths and lengths. Don’t just stick with a couple of lures, change them up. Just because you have caught fish on a lure before, doesn’t mean that’s what will work again today. Speed, light, current, and tide will all play a factor in what works best on the day. Also, a dead bait such as a garfish with an octopus skirt and jig head works well.

Lures such as the Okuma Fishing Spanish mackerel Lure, Rapala X-Rap Spanish Mackerel Lure, and Yo-Zuri Crystal Spanish Mackerel Lure work great, or you can stay with the old faithful Halco Laser Pro. I’ve had good days with all these lures, and you will too. When I’m targeting them, I usually troll between 5 and 7 knots.


Jigging, though it’s a lot more work, is a great way to catch these fish. First, find your fish using your sounder. Then drop relatively large metal lures over them and crank them back up as fast and as erratic as possible. This technique requires high-speed reels (usually a ratio of 5.7:1 and above) as the secret to success with jigging is speed through the water.

Look for your knife jigs if you enjoy adding all the action to the lure yourself. This can be very tiring though. Bumpa Bars or Wax Wing jigs will put some action in themselves, enabling you to save your energy for the fight.

Spanish at night

Live Bait

Live baits work best. A simple 9/0 circle hook either through the shoulder or chin and then drift out the back of the boat is ideal. Try to keep the float/balloon and bait a fair way from the boat so as not to spook the fish. I like to attach mine to balloons and use the wind to take them far from the boat. Have about a few feet of leader from balloon down to the wire, then at least another foot of wire down to the bait.

Stick Bait

Stick baits are the best surface option as poppers tend to be hard for the fish to stay pinned due to the refraction of the water. Once you have located your fish ( look for them breaking the surface chasing baitfish) cast your stick bait over them and wind hard. The hit can be quite spectacular. Surface fishing for Spanish is by far the most exciting, as these fish will spear full length out of the water in chase of a lure. This is one experience you will never forget!

To Wrap Up

These are the most successful ways I have come across personally to catch Spanish Mackerel. I enjoy jigging myself. Trolling is easy, and I tend to do it when moving between spots looking for fish. I always have a stick bait ready to go on a lighter outfit in case I spot something on the surface.

I always have a life (or dead) bait out the back on a balloon when I’m jigging or bottom bouncing for reef fish. For Ideas on what lure to use check out ‘Spanish Mackerel Lures’. Remember to have that gaff ready so you don’t want to get your hands too close. To see reviews on some of the best around at the moment, check out Fishing Gaffs. 

I hope you have enjoyed reading this post, and maybe even learned a thing or two. The skill you have learned here will help you to track down and catch one or more of these beautiful fish. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below in the comment section.

As Always

Tight Lines

Tony, Creator of Get Reel Fishing

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