ESPN Outdoors Saltwater Christmas features the "must do" saltwater fishing excursions along the coasts of the United States. Between now and year's end, we'll present a bucket list of fishing trips any angler would love to receive.
On the gridiron, defensive coordinators implement a wide array of "looks" designed as much to counter the offensive team's efforts, as they are to confuse QBs and conceal strategies of their own. The parallel to kingfishing is the myriad of wire rig options a team may use on any given day.
From "double-trouble" rigs (two baits on the same leader), to "zombie" rigs (live bait trailing a dead ribbonfish), the options for fooling wily kingfish are limited only by personal creativity. Accentuating rig designs, anglers often dress up the presentation with Mylar skirts known as "dusters." which pulsate in the water and add visual appeal. Also effective are flashy spinners and noisemakers like the Turbo Rattler.
Tackle color is also important, with coffee color leader wire greatly preferred over kingfish-spooking steel. Same goes for swivels — small and dark are best, but this is also to avoid unwanted peripheral interference.
Spanish mackerel — the king's smaller cousin — often strike at silver swivels because they resemble small baitfish. One hit from a mackerel and you've lost your leader, rig and bait.
When choosing hooks, most go with the standard bronze color, as this calls little attention to the manmade stuff. On the other hand, some like a little color strategy. Red hooks enhance a bait's appearance by adding the appearance of wounded, bleeding prey. Conversely, chrome-colored spray paint helps hide your stinger hooks against the shiny sides of a ribbonfish.
You'll want to keep various rig sizes and configurations handy so you can change with changing conditions, bait availability and fish preference. Zippered bags with detachable Ziploc sleeves enable you to organize rigs for quick retrieval.
If you use multiple rig bags, mark each one with a general category (ribbonfish, large baits, small baits, etc.) and mark individual containers with specific rig descriptions (hook and leader size, multiple stinger segments, etc.)
Notwithstanding the wisdom of carrying premade rigs, experienced kingfish anglers also know that getting caught without spare tackle can cause them to miss the big opportunity. For example, small kingfish, Spanish mackerel and bonita can wreck a lot of rigs in a hurry, and if you fall short on a specific rig configuration late in the day, you might find yourself unable to capitalize when the right combination of tide, moon phase and afternoon water temperature prompts a brief smoker rally.
If you need a rig you don't have, the window of opportunity may shut with you on the wrong side. Plan ahead and carry enough raw materials for at least another dozen rigs.