The materials I use for building steel leaders for sharks or mackerel are: Malin Hard Wire #4 (40lb test); Bill Fisher crane barrel swivels size 10 (100lb test); for the ‘nose hook’ an Owner “Flyliner” live bait hook (size 1); and for the ‘trailer or stinger hook a VMC inline treble (size 4). These materials should make at least seven to ten mackerel rigs. I like to make my rigs so they are between 54” – 55” long when complete.
To start, I cut two wires. The main line is measured at 50”. This is the section that the barrel swivel and the nose hook are attached to. The next piece is ideally cut to a length that will accommodate the live bait or dead bait that will be attached to the nose hook. This length is critical to prevent the bait from spinning while you are trolling for that king mackerel. I have had great success by cutting the second wire to at least 8” or 9”.
Starting with the longer wire, I will begin the process with the barrel swivel. Take an end of the wire and thread through one of the eyes of the swivel. Create a tag end of about 1.5”. Then cross the tag end over the main line and start twisting. This is what is known as the “Haywire Twist”. Do the Haywire Twist in a clockwise direction for 5 – 6 turns.
When the Haywire Twist is complete, you will need to end the tag end to 90 degrees (perpendicular to the main line) from the main line. Continuing in a clockwise direction, make three or four tight roll wraps, known as the “Barrel Wrap”. When this wrap is complete, don't use cutters to remove the remaining tag end, as this will leave a sharp end that could cut you later. Instead, I bend the tag end back and forth a couple of times; this will break the wire smoothly so no sharp ends exist. When you are done with the swivel end, you can restart the process to attach the nose hook.
I prefer to have a single hook over a treble hook for the nose hook. There are manufactured mackerel rigs out there that do have a treble hook for both the nose and stinger hook. The preference is yours on the configuration of the mackerel rig that you are building. If you elect to use a treble hook for the nose hook, the same treble hook that is used for the stinger hook is just fine.
The length of the stinger is determined by the length of the bait. I like to have the stinger hook embedded at the midpoint between the dorsal and tail fins. In most situations, this will be about 6” from the nose hook, so plan on a short piece of wire between 8” – 9” inches in length. This will provide the ideal length.
I like to start the haywire twist from the nose hook by threading the end of the short wire through the eye of the nose hook, ensuring that the wire does not exit through both the initial haywire twist loop and the hook eye. Finish the twist off using the barrel wrap, and remove the tag end. All that is left to do is to attach the treble hook using the same process.
Now that I have explained how to build your own mackerel rigs using single-strand wire, you can modify the process by cutting a length of the wire for a toothy freshwater fish. Along with attached the barrel swivel, you can replace the hook with a snap swivel. For the fly fishing addict desiring to target sharks using a reddish-colored fly (or any large fly for any toothy fish) can attach the fly to a single-strand wire using the haywire twist. The exception would be to attach the short wire leader to the leader from the fly line using the Albright knot.
In summary, if you use single-strand wire, I would highly recommend you use the haywire twist over crimping. In most situations, the single-strand wire will pull through the crimps. The advantage of single-strand wire is that it is much lighter and thinner than multi-strand, allowing it to be almost invisible in the water.
So when you have a day that will prevent you from fishing, why not take the time to learn the haywire twist for that next trip on the water?