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Bubble Rig for Spanish Mackerel: The Best Rig for Mackerel?

Bubble Rig for Spanish Mackerel: The Best Rig for Mackerel?

Spanish mackerel are a ton of fun to catch, especially on light tackle. They’re one of the faster species of mackerel and fight like crazy for their small size. We like fishing for them from both the shore and from our boat using light spinning tackle. Spanish mackerel also taste great and make for a delicious meal if prepared correctly. So what is the best way to catch them? We like using a bubble rig for Spanish mackerel the most.

A bubble rig is one of the most simple types of fishing lures, yet it works wonders when fishing for Spanish mackerel. In this article, we’ll teach what exactly a bubble rig is, how to make one, as well as the proper ways to fish a bubble rig for Spanish mackerel. We’ll also go over the best tackle for Spanish mackerel, as well as how to identify Spanish mackerel.

What is a Bubble Rig?

First things first: what exactly is a bubble rig? A bubble rig is a type of fishing rig that implements a clear plastic bubble float along with a lightweight lure. Some of the common lures paired with a bubble float are different types of flies, lightweight rubber tubes, and plastic straws. We like using saltwater flies and plastic straws when fishing for Spanish Mackerel. 

Author Note: We like using the bubble rig for Spanish mackerel because it’s super easy to make and super cheap. All you need is some fishing line, a bubble float, a plastic straw, and an appropriately sized hook.

It’s worth noting that there are plenty of other lures that work well for mackerel. Check out our best mackerel lures article for more information on what like to use the most.

How to Make a Bubble Rig for Spanish Mackerel

Now that we’ve convinced you that the next time you’re fishing for Spanish mackerel you should try a bubble rig, here’s how to make one. You’ll need 40 lb test fluorocarbon leader, a bubble float, a 2/0 Mustad treble hook, fishing beads, a colorful straw, and barrel swivels.


Once you have the above materials, follow the below steps to make your bubble rig for Spanish mackerel.

  1. Start by cutting a 3-foot long piece of your 40 lb test fluorocarbon leader. 
  2. Tie your 2/0 treble hook onto one end.
  3. Cut your colorful straw into a 3-inch piece, and slide that onto your leader with the hook on the end.
  4. Now tie the open end to a barrel swivel using a Palomar knot.
  5. Next cut a 2-foot long piece of your fluorocarbon leader.
  6. Tie one end to the barrel swivel side of the 3-foot long leader with the hook on it.
  7. Slide a fishing bead onto the open end.
  8. Then slide the bubble float on next, followed by another fishing bead.
  9. Lastly, tie another barrel swivel onto the open end.
  10. Your bubble rig is done!

How to Fish Your Bubble Rig

Lucky for us, Spanish mackerel are voracious eaters and are triggered by fast-moving baits. This means that the best way to fish your bubble rig for Spanish mackerel is fairly easy.

  1. Cast your bubble rig into a school of Spanish mackerel or close to where they are swimming.
  2. As soon as your bubble rig hits the water, feel free to begin reeling in. Speed here is key! Reel your rig rapidly. Spanish mackerel react to fast-moving lures and baitfish the most. Don’t worry about the bobber splashing, since it is clear most fish will think it is a bubble. That’s why it’s called a bubble float!
  3. Another added benefit of the bubble rig is that you’ll most likely be able to see a Spanish mackerel strike your lure. When you do, don’t be afraid to set the hook aggressively. Spanish mackerel have hard mouths that can be hard to hook without a good jerk.
  4. Once you have a Spanish mackerel on, let it run and enjoy the fight! If you’re using lighter tackle, you’ll need to tire it out before reeling it in all the way. Take your time! Bubble rigs also work really well for Jack Crevalle.

What Exactly are Spanish Mackerel?

In case you’re wondering how to identify a Spanish mackerel, we decided to include a quick description for your reference. Spanish mackerel are greenish silver in color with several yellow or olive spots all over their bodies. They usually grow up to 13 pounds and live up to 12 years old. Spanish mackerel can be distinguished from King mackerel by the absence of a lateral line and their significantly smaller size. 

There are two distinct populations of Spanish mackerel – one in the Gulf of Mexico and one in the Atlantic ocean. They both frequent the coast of Florida during the winter and travel north during the warmer summer months. Spanish mackerel are a schooling fish, so if you catch one there’s a high likelihood you’ll end up catching more.

The Best Tackle for Spanish Mackerel

If you don’t already have fishing tackle you can use for Spanish mackerel, we recommend getting the following. For rod and reel, we recommend using a medium to light saltwater fishing reel and a medium fishing rod. Surf fishing rods are a good choice if you plan on fishing far from shore, or if you want to increase your casting distance. The only downside is that most surf fishing rods are oversized for Spanish mackerel. 

Author Note: As far as the fishing line goes, we recommend using braided for your mainline and fluorocarbon for your leader. The braided line has a higher sensitivity than monofilament and will give you added length due to its smaller diameter.

Tips for Catching Spanish Mackerel

Before we close, we wanted to list some general tips for catching Spanish mackerel. If you follow these you’ll have a much better chance of catching them!

  • Look for birds and fish feeding. The goal is to find a school of Spanish mackerel. They can usually be spotted by looking for activity on top of the water as well as birds diving. Once you find a school, it will be game on!
  • Retrieve your bubble rig sporadically. Retrieving fast is always a good idea with Spanish mackerel, but you should also try retrieving your bubble rig with shorts bursts and jerks. This action will imitate a wounded fish and entice Spanish mackerel that may be tentative.
  • Don’t use shiny swivels. The last thing you want is to give away that your bubble float isn’t actually a bubble. A flashy swivel will attract the eyes of curious Spanish mackerel and give away your deception.

Parting Thoughts

Using a bubble rig for Spanish mackerel is one of the most affordable lures you can buy for Spanish mackerel and is a ton of fun to fish if you use it correctly. Next time you get fast food, ask for some extra straws! This way you’ll have plenty of options for bubble rig lures. Got an epic bubble rig fish story you want to share with us? Let us know about it in the comments below.

Happy Hunting!


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