One of the most effective baits of all is fresh dead or frozen bait presented properly at the correct depth. Fresh dead bait is really effective, however tens of thousands of tuna, dolphin, wahoo and kings have been caught on frozen minnows free lined out the back of the boat while bottom fishing.
Free lined baits are extremely effective early and late in the day in low light conditions, on cloudy days, and, occasionally, all day long; but free lined baits only fish the upper layer of the water column. Some days the bite, and/or the larger fish may be 35 to 50 feet deep in a temperature break, or down deep enough that the overhead (bright) sunlight is dimmed for their liking. (They do not have access to Maui Jim’s, or Coasta’s.) The way I prefer to get down without adding a small egg weight to the line, is to fish a three-eighths ounce (gitzem) jig head with a stinger (Photo 1) just like a standard king tackle under a sliding float.
If you use larger baits such as Boston mackerel or large squid, you may want to use a half-ounce jig head (The three-eighths ounce tackle can be suspended by a three-inch cigar float. The one-half jig head require a larger float.) This sliding float can be set to fish any depth, but I have had good results when set at depths of 35 to 50 feet.
This jig/stinger hook combo actually kills two birds with one stone. First and foremost, it puts the bait down in the strike zone with a beautiful, natural presentation that gets bit. Secondly, the (planning) jig head swims the bait perfectly in the current without twisting your mainline.
Using this method, the jig hook point is inserted into the mouth of the bait, and out the top of the head of the cigar minnow, sardine, Boston mackerel or other. The stinger hook is connected to the eye of the jig hook (Photo 2) and pinned into the back section of the bait (Photo 3). With or without a silicon skirt, this is a proven killer for kings, dolphin, wahoo and tuna that are not on the surface.
You don’t have to use a Gitzem jig, but know this—it’s tried and true. Watch the non-stop king mackerel action video on the website “Kings at the Tower” using this set up. Also, watch the video of constructing this tackle @ www.barefootfishing.net. Catch ’em up.