Sabiki Rig For Mackerel

Mustad has directed great efforts towards the development of these high-end Sabiki Rigs. Using only the best quality UltraPoint®hooks and leader material. Each rig is selected with the right size hook and line combination to provide maximum efficiency. The Mustad Sabiki Rig is perfect for catching bait, but also targeting bigger fish, all depending on the hook size and location. The Mustad Sabiki rig is perfect for catching small Snappers, Mulloway, Flathead, Mullet, Sardines, Mackerel, Herring or Threadfin. Each rig comes with a snap swivel for attaching your weight on one end and a swivel, which can be tied to your main line.

Using a Sabiki Rig for Fishing

Did you know the large sabiki rigs can be used to catch fish? This is not a widely know fact because most bait shops only stock the smaller rigs for bait catching. Anglers havent been exposed to the possibility of using a sabiki instead of tying a multi-hook rig. The large rigs use as fishing rigs are so easy to use versus tying your own rig. The larger rigs are also great to use if you dont have bait or run out of bait, come upon a roadside fishing spot for a quick cast, are on a family fishing outing, or while on vacation since they dont need to be baited.

Blue Runner Bonito Little Tunny Spanish Mackerel Jacks Croaker Spot Snapper Black Sea Bass Striper Snapper And many more!

The shiny allure of the sabiki rig attracts more than bait fish. Use large sabiki rigs instead of a leader line rig and fish as you normally would. You have the option to bait the hooks with cut bait or shrimp bits but it is not necessary as the sabiki is designed to attract fish without bait. Add a chum cage to the bottom or top of the rig to draw in more fish. Fill the chum cage with whole shrimp, squid, cut up fish chunks, or fish chum.

You can buy “targeted species” sabiki rigs like the Hayabusa Blue Runner series which are designed to attract certain fish and with the proper hooks size and line weight. Also available are rigs that are legal in certain areas with the proper number of hooks and length like the Hayabusa Chesapeake rig with 2 hooks.

A JP 14 to the largest JP 22 sabiki with 14 lb or heavier main line can catch stripers, bonito, little tunny, Spanish mackerel, kingfish, croaker, spot, snapper and even redfish. The species of game fish you can catch are endless. Tipping the sabiki with bait can increase your catch. We read one report that an angler caught a 15lb, 37″ redfish on a JP 14 Hayabusa S531E 3-hook rig and it didnt break! This same rig has a lot of great reviews of anglers catching all kinds of sportfish.

Check your states regulations on rigs with multiple baited hooks. For example, in Florida, a sabiki or “trotline” that is baited with “live bait” must have circle hooks when used in the Gulf of Mexico.

The large sabiki rigs, if you buy a good quality brand like Hayabusa, will last a long time. These rigs have heavy line, both main line and branches, so they are easier to handle. And these rigs dont have as many hooks on them, allowing for more spacing between branches to accommodate large fish.

  • Hook Size: JP 14 to 22 (US 1 to 6/0)
  • Line Weight: 13 lb to 60 lb
  • Number of Hooks/Branches: 2 to 6
  • Distance between Branches: 11 to 14 inches
  • Since the larger sabikis are not widely available in retail stores, we have stocked Hayabusa large size sabikis on our store at great prices! Check out our table of rigs available on our store.

    To extend the life of your large sabiki rig, always rinse it with freshwater and store in a dry place. See Storing & Reusing Sabiki Rigs section above.

    Rigging and Using a Sabiki Rig

    Sabiki rigs come neatly packaged with a swivel barrel on the top of the line for attaching to your main line at the terminal end and a swivel snap at the bottom for attaching a weight or bait cage.

    The easiest way to setup your sabiki rod is to follow these steps:

  • Open the top of the sabiki package exposing the top barrel swivel and the bottom snap swivel. Do not remove the rig, only the two swivels.
  • Release a few feet of line from your rod and lock it.
  • Optional: Create a stopper so you dont reel the sabiki thru your rod guides when retrieving. Thread a large plastic bead larger than your rod tip eye or something similar (plastic washer) tied on to the rods line.
  • Attach the sabiki to your main line on the rod by threading the line from your rod through the barrel swivel on the top of the sabiki. Attach using your favorite fishing knot. The stopper bead or washer will be above the swivel.
  • Attach a sinker or chum cage to the snap swivel which is the bottom of the sabiki.
  • Now gently pull the whole unit out of the package keeping it taunt and away from you.
  • Optional: Tip each hook with small pieces of bait, shrimp, squid or fishbites if your conditions warrant.
  • Open your rods bail and gently drop or gently cast your sabiki rig underhanded. Your goal is about 20 feet behind your boat, near a bait school or near structure. Never try to cast over, you could get hooked!
  • Let the sabiki sink. To attract bait fish jig it gently a few times. Let the rig settle vertically in the water, there is no need to work the rig anymore. When you feel or see the rig has fish, let it sit for a few minutes so all the hooks hopefully get fish.
  • To retrieve, reel the rig in slowly. Keep a constant pressure on the line as you reel in so the fish dont tangle.
  • Once you have brought the rig on shore or on the boat, position the line full of fish over your bait bucket or bait well. Using a de-hooking device, flip the fish into their new temporary home. Do not overcrowd the baitwell, they need fresh oxygenated water to stay lively. Try not to touch the fish, they will be livelier and last longer.
  • Sabiki rigs are designed to be used “as is” out of the package with no bait. These rigs are extensively tested to attract fish with their elaborate decorative enhancements. If fish are not biting, you can entice fish to your rig by tipping each hook with tiny pieces of cut bait, squid, shrimp or fishbites. Be sure to use very small pieces of bait that dont cover the hook tip or you will prevent the fish from getting hooked.

    caution icon Check your states regulations on rigs with multiple baited hooks. In Florida, a sabiki or “trotline” that is baited with live bait must have circle hooks when used in the Gulf of Mexico.

    You can also increase your catch rate by disbursing fish chum. Fill a chum dispenser or chum bag with your preferred fish chum and let the chum drift into the area where the sabiki rig will be used. Sardines and herring respond well to chum. Fish chum is usually warranted when the fish arent biting, you are offshore in deep water or you want to bring in more bait. You can also add a sabiki chum cage filled with chum to the end of your sabiki to lure in bait fish to the rig.

    a sabiki rig full of fish closeupThe tiny hooks on a sabiki rig can be quite a challenge to get under control, they tend to stick into everything they get close to and tangle. The simplest way to reign in a sabiki for storage is to follow these steps:

  • Reel in the sabiki rig to about 6 inches from the tip of your rod.
  • Place the rod in a rod holder to steady the rig and free up both hands.
  • Hold the 1st hook located near your rod tip then grab the 2nd hook and interlock the 2 hooks.
  • Hold the 3rd hook then interlock it into the 4th hook.
  • Repeat until all hooks are interlocked into sets of 2.
  • Take your weight on the bottom of the sabiki and wrap it around your reel handle. You may have to release some line reach the handle.
  • Once the weight is around the handle, crank gently to pull in slack on the line.
  • Take the main line and wrap it around the middle rod guides to secure the rig to the rod.
  • Wrap the rig around an empty leader line spool wheel.
  • Use a pool noodle and stick the hooks into it.
  • Cut an 8 inch section from a pool noodle and wrap the rig around it.
  • Use a 4 foot length of ¾” to 1″ PVC tube and drop the whole rig into it.
  • Once your sabiki is properly secured to the rod it is ready for your next bait catching adventure. If you plan to use it on another day, rinse it with clean water and dry by either placing the rod in the sun or patting down with a towel.

    With so many styles and brands of sabiki rigs, how does one figure out what to buy?

    Sabiki rigs come in freshwater, ice fishing, and saltwater versions. The primary consideration is hook size. The hook size and line weight determine what size bait or fish you will catch – the larger the hook, the larger the fish. Sabiki rigs are used primarily for catching bait fish, but they can be used to catch sport fish. See section below for details.

    Price usually indicates quality; you get what you pay for! Hook size and line weight influence the price for each unit, which range from $1 to $15. A $1 rig is usually a single-use product that may or may not reach the water once unpackaged if it tangles. Lower quality rigs also have hooks that can be easily bent or bit off by fish. High quality rigs, especially those with larger hooks, dont tangle and can last quite a long time if properly cared for.

    Where Will You Be Bait Catching? This makes a big difference in your choice of rig. Deeper offshore waters require longer lines and bigger hooks for bigger fish. Shallow inshore waters should have shorter main lines and smaller hooks. The size of your sabiki rig is based on the waters you will be in and the bait fish normally inhabiting these waters.

    When deciding on the size of your rig to purchase, first decide on the hook size, then the line weight. The decorations to consider all depend on the water conditions and fish you are targeting.

    Once you have decided on the rig size you would like to purchase, you have to decide what features you would like. There are literally thousands of styles to choose from, which can be quite overwhelming. By learning the standard features, you can narrow down your choices considerably.

    TIP! Always have more than one sabiki rig package with you at all times. If you purchase inexpensive rigs that cost only a few dollars, then you will most likely only get one use out of each one. You never know what fish will go for your sabiki, one large fish can shred your rig in seconds.

    Hook Sizes Hook sizes determine the size of the fish you will catch. Hook size numbers mean different sizes depending on the brand you use. Japanese sabiki rigs made by Hayabusa have hook sizes ranging from 3 to 22 where the larger the number, the larger the hook. American sabiki manufacturers hook sizes range from 16 to 6/0 where the larger the number below zero, the smaller the hook. This is quite confusing so we created the below chart to help you out. When you are online shopping for sabiki rigs it gets even more confusing as there is usually no information given on product ads as to the hook size rating of JP or US.

    NOTE: We use JP hook sizes on this webpage because we carry and prefer to use the high quality Japanese sabikis.

    Your first consideration in selecting a sabiki rig is hook size. Hayabusa USA has put together a pdf icon Sabiki Size Chart by Target Fish to help anglers determine the size of hook based on target species. We will sum it up here:

  • Size JP 4, 6 – Threadfin Herring, Spanish Sardine, Blueback Herring
  • Size JP 4, 6, 8 – Pilchard (Scaled Sardine), Cigar Minnow (Round Scad, Hardtail)
  • Size JP 14, 15, 16, 18 – Google Eyes
  • Size JP 8,10,12,14 – 4-7″ Blue Runner
  • Size JP 20, 22 – 7″ Blue Runner
  • Number of Hooks Sabiki rigs are sold in packages of 2 to 8 hooks, one on each branch line. Large rigs have fewer hooks making them ideal for catching game fish. Some states have regulations on the number of hooks allowed per rig, so check your states gear rules before purchasing a rig.

    Hook Styles The most common sabiki hooks are super sharp J or octopus hooks. Hooks are made of high carbon steel with a gold or silver (nickel) shinny surface. Rigs styled to mimic live bait like shrimp will have colored hooks that blend in with the hooks dressings. Some anglers will cut off the barb on the hooks or bend them down to make removal of fish easier.

    Line Material Sabiki rigs are made using either fluorocarbon or monofilament fishing line. Some rigs can have a combination of the 2 types, main line one type and branches another. Below is a summary of the features of each type of fishing line.

  • Barely visible in the water because light passes through it
  • Has good sensitivity because has little elasticity
  • Drops in the water fast because it sinks
  • Diameter is thinner than mono
  • UV resistant so it last longer
  • Doesnt absorb water
  • Abrasion resistant and lasts a long time
  • More expensive than mono
  • Can be seen by fish in the water because it tends to refract light
  • Floats, good when fishing with top-water baits
  • Absorbs water so the line is more relaxed
  • Strong line with elasticity which is good for fighting fish but can wear over time
  • Available in many colors
  • Inexpensive and a trusted choice by anglers for a long time
  • Line Weight The line weight is expressed in pound test. The main line will always be a heaver test than the branches. Main lines are from 5 lbs to 40lb and the branch lines from 3 lbs to 30lbs. The thicker the line is (the higher test number), the larger the fish it can handle and the less it will tangle. With multiple fish on the line, if the line cannot handle the weight when its full of fish, the whole rig can snap off under the weight of your catch.

    Main Line Length The length of the main line is usually between 55″ and 112″. Select a length that is appropriate to the depth of the waters you will be bait catching.

    Branch Line Length The branch line is attached to the main line with spacing between each branch. The branches extend out from the main line from 1″ to 6″.

    Branch Line Distance Between Branches The branch lines are spaced evenly along the main line based on the number of branches included. The distance between branches can be between 1″ to 18″ which is dictated by the main line length. The longer the rig, the more distance between the branches.

    Color The basic colors are white, red, pink and green. A good starter sabiki is a mix of red or pink and green when you arent sure which fish are out there. When a rig dressed with multiple contrasting colors is used, it increases the chance of luring in different species. Your color choices may or may not work every time out. One day a color will bring in fish every drop; another day nothing! Weather conditions and environmental variable change constantly, so a color that worked for a certain species today may not work tomorrow. It is best to have on hand a few different colors to find out what is working best on that day.

    Certain bait fish have been known to prefer certain colors: Red and Pink – Sardines, pilchards, cigar minnows Green (chartreuse) – Threadfin

    Colors lose their intensity the deeper your rig drops due to low light conditions. In the video below you can see how lighter colors are more visible than darker colors in deeper water. This is the reason larger sabiki rigs have mostly lighter colors like pink, green and silver. Although there are contrasting reports that darker colors work better in deep water, murky water and rough waters. The science behind fish being attracted to certain colors is murky due to the enormous array of factors involved.

    Decoration Styles Sabiki rigs come in many styles that are used to attract different fish. The style you choose should imitate the food your target bait fish normally feeds on. Most styles are shiny to reflect light and with small shiny hooks, each dressed hook will shimmer in the water resembling plankton, minnows, shrimp or other food sources attracting fish. Styles can be one or more of the following that also come in an array of colors: sabiki rig diagram of the parts of the hook decorations

  • Fish Skin, natural (more effective) or artificial
  • Flashers and holographic sheets reflect light, good for low light & murky water conditions
  • Feathers
  • Tassels or yarn
  • Skirts
  • Fluff tails that resemble plankton
  • Beads – solid colors or glow in the dark that mimic fish eyes
  • Plastic squids, minnows or imitation shrimp – resemble actual bait
  • Glow in the dark – absorb light then re-radiate it back out
  • UV enhanced – reflect light around
  • View the Hayabusa sabiki hook style Features.

    Since the sabiki rig was originally developed in Japan, there are traditional Japanese names used to describe some styles of rigs. We searched high and low to find out what the following three names mean and found nothing! After a lot of web surfing we have determined this is what they might mean by using the Japanese translation of the words; we may be wrong, but we think we are close: Hage = bald, Japanese name for “the fish” Aurora = dawn, day break, sunrise – multiple shimmering colors like the northern lights Kawa = leatherery skin

    So if a rig is described as Hage Aurora, then it has a smooth surface with a spectrum of colors. If we are incorrect on our assumptions, please contact us.

    Special Features There are special series of sabikis available that mimic live bait or target certain species. These special rigs contain the correct hook sizes, number of hooks, line weight and decorations to serve the designated purpose. There are also rigs made to be legal for a certain area for example the Hayabusa Chesapeake sabiki is legal in Chesapeake Bay and is designed to catch spot and perch. Other sabikis target snapper, google-eyes, blue runners or other species. The real series mimic shrimp and minnows.Another style worth mentioning is the “jigging sabiki” which combines a dressed jig with a sabiki.

    Swivels and Snaps Avoid chrome swivels and snap swivels; they are usually used in low cost rigs. The shiny chrome color attracts mackerel and barracudas which will bite off your line in an instant.

    Price Sabiki rig prices are determined by the product features and line material. The larger the rig (line weight & hook size), the larger the price. Price is also determined by the brand and country of origin. Better quality sabikis by top notch manufacturers, like Hayabusa, will work better, catch more bait, and last more than one trip if properly cared for.


    How do you catch mackerel with a sabiki rig?

    The Mustad Sabiki Rig is perfect for catching bait, but also targeting bigger fish, all depending on the hook size and location. The Mustad Sabiki rig is perfect for catching small Snappers, Mulloway, Flathead, Mullet, Sardines, Mackerel, Herring or Threadfin.

    What is the best sabiki rig for mackerel?

    If you are just targeting macks a size 6 or 4 size subiki should be just fine. Then tip the hooks with squid or mackerel. If they are thick use a heavier weight. If you don’t then you might get one of the worst tangles known to man.

    What is the best size sabiki rig for mackerel?

    If you are just targeting macks a size 6 or 4 size subiki should be just fine. Then tip the hooks with squid or mackerel. If they are thick use a heavier weight. If you don’t then you might get one of the worst tangles known to man.

    What fish can you catch on a sabiki rig?

    If you are just targeting macks a size 6 or 4 size subiki should be just fine. Then tip the hooks with squid or mackerel. If they are thick use a heavier weight. If you don’t then you might get one of the worst tangles known to man.

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