What Size Sabiki 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.

Catch and release fishing is a popular and sustainable practice that helps protect fish populations for future generations. If you’re looking to join the ranks of responsible anglers, you’ll need to invest in the proper equipment. One item that’s essential for catching mackerel is a sabiki rig. But when it comes to sabiki rigs, size matters. The size of the sabiki you choose will have an effect on the size and number of mackerel you catch. In this blog post, we’ll be discussing what size sabiki you should use if you’re looking to catch mackerel. We’ll explore the differences between the various sizes, how to select the right size for your needs, and provide some tips and tricks for using your sabiki to catch mackerel. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned angler, this post will help you maximize your chances of catching your limit of mackerel.

Rigging and Using a Sabiki Rig

With a swivel barrel at the top of the line for connecting to your main line at the terminal end and a swivel snap at the bottom for attaching a weight or bait cage, Sabiki rigs are neatly packaged.

The steps below are the simplest way to set up your sabiki rod:

  • 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.
  • It is intended for Sabiki rigs to be used “as is” right out of the box without any bait. These rigs’ elaborate decorative additions have undergone extensive testing to draw fish. If fish aren’t biting, you can get them to come to your rig by putting tiny pieces of cut bait, squid, shrimp, or fishbites on each hook. Use tiny pieces of bait that don’t cover the tip of the hook or you won’t be able to hook the fish.

    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.

    Additionally, you can increase your catch rate by releasing fish chum. Your preferred fish chum can be placed in a chum dispenser or bag and allowed to drift into the area where the sabiki rig will be used. Sardines and herring respond well to chum. When the fish aren’t biting, you’re offshore in deep water, or you want to bring in more bait, fish chum is usually warranted. To attract bait fish to the rig, you can also attach a sabiki chum cage filled with chum to the end of your sabiki.

    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.
  • Your sabiki is now prepared for your upcoming adventure in bait catching once it has been securely fastened to the rod. If you intend to use it another day, rinse it with fresh water and pat it dry with a towel or by exposing it to the sun.

    How does one choose from the numerous brands and styles of sabiki rigs?

    Sabiki rigs come in freshwater, ice fishing, and saltwater versions. The primary consideration is hook size. What size bait or fish you will catch depends on the hook size and line weight; the bigger the hook, the bigger the fish. Although they can be used to catch sport fish, sabiki rigs are primarily used to catch bait fish. See section below for details.

    The price of each unit, which ranges from $1 to $15, is influenced by the hook size and line weight; generally speaking, you get what you pay for. A $1 rig is typically a one-time use item that, depending on how it unpacks and tangles, may or may not end up in the water. Hooks on lower-quality rigs can also be easily bent or bit off by fish. High-quality rigs, particularly those with larger hooks, don’t tangle and, with proper maintenance, can last for quite a while.

    Where Will You Be Bait Catching? has a significant impact on the rig you choose. Longer lines and larger hooks are needed for bigger fish in deeper offshore waters. Smaller hooks and shorter main lines are recommended for shallow inshore waters. Your sabiki rig’s size will depend on the waters you’ll be fishing in and the bait fish that typically live there.

    When choosing the size of your rig, think about the hook size first, then the line weight. The decorations to take into account are all based on the fish you plan to target and the state of the water.

    After deciding on the size of the rig you want to buy, you must choose the features you want. The sheer number of available styles can be overwhelming, with literally thousands to choose from. By becoming familiar with the common features, you can drastically reduce your options.

    Always carry multiple sabiki rig packages on you at all times. You will probably only get one use out of each of the cheap, dollar-store equipment purchases you make. One sizable fish can destroy your rig in a matter of seconds, so you never know what fish will attack your sabiki.

    Hook sizes The size of the fish you will catch is determined by the hook size. Depending on the brand you use, the hook size numbers correspond to different sizes. Hook sizes on Japanese sabiki rigs made by Hayabusa range from 3 to 22, with the higher the number, the bigger the hook. The hook sizes available from American sabiki manufacturers range from 16 to 6/0; the larger the number below zero, the smaller the hook. This is very confusing, so we made the chart below to clarify things for you. The confusion increases when purchasing sabiki rigs online because product advertisements typically do not specify whether the hook size is JP or US.

    NOTE: Because we carry and prefer to use the premium Japanese sabikis, we use JP hook sizes on this website.

    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 come with one hook on each branch line and are sold in packages of 2 to 8 hooks. Large rigs are perfect for catching game fish because they have fewer hooks. Check your state’s gear regulations before buying a rig as some states have restrictions on the number of hooks permitted per rig.

    The most popular sabiki hook styles are razor-sharp J or octopus hooks. High-carbon steel hooks have a shiny gold or silver (nickel) surface. Colored hooks that blend in with the hook dressings will be used on rigs designed to resemble live bait, such as shrimp. To make fish removal easier, some anglers will remove the barb from the hooks or bend them down.

    Fishing line made of either fluorocarbon or monofilament is used to make sabiki rigs. Some rigs may combine the two types, using one for the main line and the other for the branches. Here is a list of the characteristics of each kind 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. Always put more stress on the main line than the branches. Branch lines range from 3 lbs to 30 lbs, while main lines range from 5 lbs to 40 lbs. The larger the fish it can handle and the less it will tangle, the thicker the line is (the higher the test number). When there are several fish on the line, the entire rig may break under the weight of your catch if the line cannot support the weight.

    Main Line Length The main line is typically 55″ to 112″ long. Choose a length that corresponds to the water depth where you will be bait catching.

    Branch Line Length The branch line is separated from the main line by a distance. From the main line, the branches branch out in lengths of 1″ to 6″.

    Branch Line Spacing Between Branches The number of branches included determines how far apart the branch lines are from the main line. The main line length determines the distance between branches, which can range from 1″ to 18″. The longer the rig, the more distance between the branches.

    Color The basic colors are white, red, pink and green. When unsure of the type of fish present, a combination of red or pink and green makes a good starter sabiki. When a rig is dressed in several contrasting colors, there is a greater chance of attracting various species. Your color choices might not always be successful. Weather patterns and environmental factors change constantly, so a color that worked today for one species may not work tomorrow, bringing in fish every drop one day and nothing else. It is best to keep a few different colors on hand so you can see which ones work the best that day.

    Red and pink are preferred by sardines, pilchards, and cigar minnows, while green (chartreuse) is preferred by threadfin.

    The lower your rig drops, the less intense colors are due to low light conditions. The video below demonstrates how lighter colors are easier to see in deeper water than darker colors. Because of this, larger sabiki rigs tend to be painted in lighter hues like pink, green, and silver. Despite conflicting reports, darker hues are said to be more effective in deep water, murky water, and choppy waters. The vast number of variables involved makes it difficult to understand the science behind why fish are drawn to particular colors.

    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 first created in Japan, some rig styles are referred to by their traditional Japanese names. After extensive web searching in an attempt to determine the meaning of the following three names, we have come to the following conclusion using the Japanese translation of the words: Hage = bald, Japanese name for “the fish” Aurora = dawn, daybreak, sunrise – multiple shimmering colors similar to the northern lights Kawa = leatherery skin

    A rig has a smooth surface and a range of colors if it is described as Hage Aurora. If we are incorrect on our assumptions, please contact us.

    Specific species are the focus of some sabikis in a special series that mimic live bait. The right hook sizes, number of hooks, line weight, and decorations are included in these special rigs to fulfill the intended purpose. Additionally, there are rigs created to be legal in a specific location. For instance, the Hayabusa Chesapeake sabiki is authorized in the Chesapeake Bay and is made to catch spot and perch. Other sabikis target snapper, google-eyes, blue runners or other species. The real series mimic shrimp and minnows. The “jigging sabiki” style, which combines a dressed jig and a sabiki, is another noteworthy trend.

    Avoid chrome swivels and snap swivels; they are typically used in inexpensive rigs. Swivels and Snaps Your line will be instantly severed by mackerel and barracudas attracted to the shiny chrome color.

    Price Product features and line material determine Sabiki rig prices. The price increases with the size of the rig (line weight & hook size). Additionally, the brand and country of origin affect price. If properly maintained, superior sabikis made by reputable companies like Hayabusa will perform better, catch more bait, and last for more than one trip.

    What weight should a sabiki rig be?

    For simple attachment to a sabiki rig when bait fishing, a trolling weight has been modified to have just a single brass eye. The most popular sizes along the Gulf Coast are 1, 1 1/2, 2, and 3 oz. depending on current.

    Designed with extreme detail and Hayabusa Hooks known to be exceptionally strong and sharp. Hayabusa Sabiki® saltwater fishing rigs are one of the most sought after models in the world – and for good reason! Hayabusa Fishing is identified as The Pride of Japan due to the tremendous engineering invested into each and every fishing rig and fishing hook. Experience the Hayabusa Fishing Advantage for yourself!

    The Sabiki® EX129 – UV Mackerel Skin by Hayabusa Fishing imitates a variety of crustaceans and bait. Double ultraviolet hues are present on the flasher and narrow, soft fish skin of this Sabiki® EX129 – UV Mackerel Skin. Target fish can easily see the Sabiki® EX129 – UV Mackerel Skin thanks to its ultraviolet color, which improves light reflection. These characteristics make the EX129 very efficient in both bright and dim light conditions in clearer water. Numerous bait fish, as well as target fish, will be attracted to and caught by the Sabiki® EX129 – UV Mackerel Skin.


    What size sabiki rig should I use?

    Depending on your needs, either a size 6 or an 8 sabiki rig should do. Most important to me is that it glows.

    What size hooks for mackerel?

    Hook size. Mackerel have small mouths, so if you frequently miss bites, consider lowering the hook size by one or two sizes. You can use a size 4 or even a size 6 hook, depending on the size of your bait.

    How do you catch mackerel with sabiki?

    The items you need will be two-ounce weights, 20-lb. monofilament fishing line, Sabiki hooks and a bead. Spending a little more money on your Sabiki rig will pay off. The quality of the better hooks makes a big difference.

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