7 Best Lures for King Mackerel (2021 Buying Guide)

Kenneth ReavesEdited by: Kenneth Reaves
Michael DarmontReviewed by: Michael Darmont

Last Update:

The Rundown

Best Overall: Blue Water Candy (Click Here to View)
“Kings love live bait, and this Blue Water Candy rig is one of the best ways to rig up a pilchard, cigar minnow, or ballyhoo.”

Best Premium Option: Yo-Zuri Bonita (Click Here to View)
” The Yo-Zuri Bonita is one of the most dependable high-speed trolling lures you can find. Its patented design works great on kings, tuna, and wahoo, and it’s one of the best choices to include in a trolling spread.”

Best Budget Option: L.B. Huntington Eco Lure Spoon (Click Here to View)
“Spoons are a simple lure but they’re also one of the most effective. This drone spoon from L.B. Huntington is perfect for trolling for kingfish, especially the silver and gold ones.”

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King mackerel are one of the most sought after offshore game fish in the Southeast. They put up a fantastic fight, taste great, and even have region-wide tournaments dedicated to catching the biggest kings anglers can find. Whether you’re a professional tournament fisherman or a recreational angler,  you need to know which lures are going to work best if you want the best chance for success on your king mackerel trip. 

You typically will want to mimic the king’s favorite foods with your lure. They’re a fast-swimming pelagic fish, so you need high-speed lures that can hang around in the top 25 feet of the water column. You also want a lure you can combine with either a live bait or a big piece of cut bait to get the best effectiveness out of them. 

There are tons of lures on the market promising bites from kingfish, but not all of them produce as well as others. We’ve done the research and put together this list so you can stock up on the best and most successful lures out there when it comes to fishing for kings

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7 Best Lures for King Mackerel in 2021

Here’s our shortlist of the best king mackerel lures:

Blue Water Candy

Best for Most Anglers: Best Live-bait rig you can use for kings.

Blue Water Candy 40035 King Rig Tourn Skirted with Featherwrights, 5-Pack
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KEY FEATURES

  • Extra attraction coming from teaser skirt
  • Tooth-proof wire leader material
  • Dual trebles to snag kings on strikes

Kings love live bait, and this Blue Water Candy rig is one of the best ways to rig up a pilchard, cigar minnow, or ballyhoo. It’s also a consistent setup that doesn’t require a faster-trolling boat, making it a great choice for anglers of all skill levels and boat types.

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Lure Details

The skirt on the lure not only makes your bait look bigger, but it will shine and dance thanks to the swimming and struggling of your bait. The two trebles are great for attaching one near the head and a stinger near the tail of your baitfish, all while still letting it move freely to attract kings.

It has a tooth-proof wire leader that can stand up to hard strikes from big kingfish. The feathered skirt is also weighted so you won’t have any trouble getting your bait to the desired depth you want it to sit at. 

Best Ways to Use it

You’ll want to always rig this one up with a live baitfish. Hook the lead treble through the fish right behind the head, and then loosely hook the trailing treble near the base of the tail. This lets the baitfish survive as long as possible while also allowing it plenty of movement freedom.

Fish it around structure and other productive spots. If you can find a feeding school of fish or a good-looking weed line, you can also throw this out and give it a try there.

Yo-Zuri Bonita

Best Premium Option: Most durable high-speed trolling lure.

Yo-Zuri R1158-COB Bonita Trolling Sinking Lure, Orange/Black, 210mm 8-1/4'
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KEY FEATURES

  • Two-sizes and 7 color options
  • Super durable hard bait
  • Can be trolled with or without a lead weight

Aside from finding the fish and dropping live baits, trolling is your next best option for catching big kingfish. The Yo-Zuri Bonita is one of the most dependable high-speed trolling lures you can find. Its patented design works great on kings, tuna, and wahoo, and it’s one of the best choices to include in a trolling spread. 

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Lure Details

The lure has a patented power-body design that has a tight swimming action in the water. It can be trolled anywhere from 6-15 knots and is weighted to sit at the top of the water column. The body comes in two different sizes and up to seven different color patterns.

 It comes with stainless steel hooks and swivels that will not only not rust but will stand up to the big toothy fish you’re after. Fishing more than one at a time gives the impression of a baitfish school and works great for pelagic predators.

Best Ways to Use it

Obviously, this is a trolling lure, but you’ll want to be at the right speeds. For kings, troll between 6 and 8 knots, going over structures like wrecks and reefs that they frequent. If you can find a good weed line don’t be afraid to make a few passes up and down it to see if any kings are hanging around as well. 

L.B. Huntington Eco Lure Spoon

Best Budget Option: Mimic the flash of a baitfish with a classic trolling spoon, made to handle the teeth of a kingfish.

L.B. Huntington Eco Lure Spoon, Silver/Silver Flash Scale, 3.5-Inch
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KEY FEATURES

  • Easy-to-use
  • A large variety of colors and sizes
  • Mimics the silvery flash of kingfish natural prey

Spoons are a simple lure but they’re also one of the most effective. This drone spoon from L.B. Huntington is perfect for trolling for kingfish, especially the silver and gold ones. With quite a few colors to choose from and experiment with, this is a great trolling option for fishermen on a budget. 

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Lure Details

The stainless steel construction of the spoon and solid nickel rings are corrosion-resistant and won’t rust in the saltwater environment you’re fishing. On the spoon is a large flash plate that reflects a ton of light and really helps bring fish up from the bottom. 

Best Ways to Use it

You’ll want to troll these spoons around 6-8 knots with a planer, ideally fishing one near the surface, one at ten feet, and one around 25 feet down. Make sure to use a wire leader so you don’t get bitten off, and let the flash and shake of the spoon do the work for you, attracting kingfish. 

Rapala Countdown Magnum 14 Fishing Lures

Most Well-Rounded Lure: Tough enough to withstand even the toughest of strikes and able to be cast or trolled, the Countdown Magnum is a great lure for kingfish.

Rapala Countdown Magnum 14 Fishing lure (Silver Mackerel, Size- 5.5)
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KEY FEATURES

  • 7 coats of paint keep it looking new after strikes
  • Tank tested to run properly
  • Runs between 9-25 feet down, perfect for kingfish

The first of the lures on this list that can be both trolled or cast is the Rapala Countdown Magnum 14. Like the Bonita, it’s incredibly durable and made to stand up to harsh strikes. It’s an overall great trolling lure that also offers you the ability to cast it, making it a well-rounded option for fishermen targeting kingfish.

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Lure Details

The fixed lip lets the lure run between 9 and 25 feet down, right where you want to be for kingfish. It’s got steel VMC hooks and rings that won’t rust or break in a king’s mouth. The lure body itself is coated in 7 layers of paint, so if a tooth scrapes off a section it will still hold its pattern. Additionally, all of their lures are tank-tested to ensure they run at proper depths and with the right action, so you can feel good about the quality of your purchase.

The silver mackerel is generally considered to be the best option for kingfish since it most resembles their typical prey species. The lure comes in a variety of patterns for you to choose from, so don’t be afraid to experiment. 

Best Ways to Use it

The best way to use the Countdown is to troll it. The magnums are a little unwieldy when it comes to casting, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done! Don’t expect extremely long casts but you can whip out a magnum and throw it to a king you’ve spotted feeding near the surface. Ideally, you’ll want to troll a couple of these at a time, passing by underwater structures, weed lines, and even oil rigs to get the most action.

Nomad Design DTX Minnow Floating

Best Diving Lure: The strongest and deepest diving lure you can find, the Nomad DTX always swims straight and is always ready to go back in for another fish.

Nomad Design DTX Minnow Floating 120-4.75' Super Deep 26ft Trolling with Pat. Pending Autotune Technology
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KEY FEATURES

  • Diamond weave internal pattern for structural integrity
  • Self-correcting attachment point to keep it swimming straight
  • Maximum depth between 4.5 and 8 knots

The guys at Nomad really put a ton of work into the DTX Minnow. From adding strength to the lure body to its Autotune attachment points, the lure is perfect for trolling for kings, mahi, wahoo, and plenty of other pelagics. It’s a great choice for any angler, especially those who want to troll at higher speeds.

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Lure Details

The DTX has a DIamond Weave internal structure that both provides flash and makes the lure almost uncrushable. It has a recessed forward hook attachment that allows it to be trolled faster without kicking out and comes with an optional attachment for a helper hook. 

The lure has an Autotune feature, which essentially self-corrects the lure to make sure it swims straight consistently. It makes using it as easy as tossing it into the water and taking off. You can choose your size and pattern based on the fish you’re targeting, and for kings, the 28-foot diver is your best option.

Best Ways to Use it

One of the best ways to use the DTX minnow is to locate a group of kings on your fishfinder. Once found, you can drop the lure and let it sink below the depth they’re hanging around in, then take off and pull the lure through the group of fish. You’re likely to end up getting at least one of the fish’s attention, and it’ll chase down the DTX and get hooked.

C&H, King Buster Lure

Best Skirt: Paired with a dead bait, skirts can help get you hooked up with huge kingfish.

C&H, King Buster Lure, Style KB, HotPink/White/GoldBlueFleck Skirt, 1/8 oz (3.5 g) Head, 2.5 in (6.35 cm), 3 pc
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KEY FEATURES

  • Great teaser to add action to your baits
  • Chrome-plated brass head for weight and corrosion-resistance
  • Comes in 3-pack for great value

Sometimes dead baits are the way to go for kingfish, even if they don’t always prefer it. Combining your cut baits or live baits with a teaser is one of the best ways to increase your chances with pelagic species, and the King Buster Lure is designed to do just that with kingfish. It’s a great choice for fishermen who prefer frozen or cut bait instead of catching live baits or trolling plain lures.  

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Lure Details

The teaser skirt is designed to flare up and cause a ton of movement in the water, whether you’re trolling or letting a live bait squirm. It has a solid brass head for weight, which is plated with chrome for extra flash and corrosion-resistance. 

Best Ways to Use it

The best way to use this one is to either use a long strip of bonita or a whole ballyhoo and attach it underneath the skirt. The movement of the skirt and smell of the bait will attract the kings and give you a great bite.

Halco Max 130

Best for Casting: A sinking lure lets you try different depths and retrieval speeds to experiment and discover what gets the most strikes.

Halco MAX130#H57 Max 130 Lipless
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KEY FEATURES

  • Sinking plug that mimics baitfish
  • Can be trolled between fishing spots
  • Good body shape for high-speed trolling

Most of the lures we’ve discussed work best for live baits or trolling. The Halco Max 130 is one of your best choices in a casting lure for kingfish. Mimicking a bait fish and weights to sink quickly, the lure lets you cover a lot of water in a short amount of time. It’s a great choice for angler’s who aren’t interested in trolling or messing about with live baits. 

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Lure Details

The Halco Max is a simple sinking lure shaped like a baitfish. It has a few different colors and sizes to choose from, and the best ones for kingfish will usually be the Baitfish, Hot Sardine, and White Red Head. The dual trolling hooks are ideal for snagging kings on their quick strikes, and the hard body will stand up to crushing blows. 

Best Ways to Use it

One of the best places to use this lure is around oil rigs. Big pelagic species like tuna and kings frequently stop around them, and this is the perfect size lure to target them. You can also look for feeding schools of fish and weed lines to cast around.

What To Look For When Buying Kingfish Lures

Size:

Like with most fish, the bigger the bait, the bigger the fish that takes it. If you’re after trophy kings then you’ll want to fish bigger lures. Fifteen pounders are plenty of fun though, so you can go with smaller spoons, lures, and live baits. A good trolling rod will be your best bet for most kinds of these lures, as they’re rated for the lure sizes you’ll be working with.

Durability:

Kingfish are world-renowned for how fiercely they hit baits. It’s common for them to break or cut you off as soon as they strike, making it all the more important that you use a lure that can stand up to that abuse. Buying lures with extra internal structure, better quality materials, and even multiple coats of paint can mean the difference between replacing them early or using them long term. 

Action and Look:

Ideally, you’ll either want to use a lure that resembles prey fish in color or enhances the bait you’re planning to use. Skirts are great to use with live baits since they make it seem bigger and make it move much more frantically due to the bait struggling. Other lures like spoons flash silver or gold the same way bait fish do in the water, tricking and tempting the kings into a strike. 

Depth:

You want to easily control the depth of your lures, and picking the right one can make your life a lot easier. Kingfish typically spend their time in the top 25 feet of the water, but bigger ones can be found down to 60 feet. Like fishing for tuna, using planers makes it a lot easier to consistently keep down lures like spoons, weights assist with pulling down live bait rigs, and adjusting your trolling speed lets you keep your trolling lures at depth. Consider how you plan to fish, and what is possible for you to help make the best decision on which lures to purchase. 

Questions & Answers

Where is the best place to find kingfish?

King mackerel range from Texas to the Carolinas. You can usually find them offshore chasing baitfish schools. Look for weed lines that baitfish frequent, and check around structures like wrecks and reefs since kings tend to stop in around those quite often. If you have them in the area, oil rigs are a great place to go and drop a few live baits.

What kind of rigs work best for kings?

Whether you’re trolling lures, casting plugs, or dropping baits you want to use some measure of wire leader. Kingfish have a ton of sharp teeth and will easily cut through most monofilament or fluorocarbon lines given time. It’s even common for them to immediately cut you off on their strike. This is because they hit hard and fast, making it necessary to use a light drag so they don’t tear the hook out or break you off when they bite.