Fishing for Mackerel in Ireland: A Guide to Pier Fishing with Mackerel Feathers and Rigs

Fishing for Mackerel in Ireland: A Guide to Pier Fishing with Mackerel Feathers and Rigs


Mackerel fishing is a quintessential Irish pastime, enjoyed by anglers of all ages and skill levels. Pier fishing, in particular, is one of the most accessible ways to catch these feisty fish. With Ireland's extensive coastline offering numerous piers and harbours, the opportunities are plentiful. This blog post aims to guide you through the process of catching mackerel from the pier using feathers and rigs, helping you make the most of your angling adventure.

The Perfect Season

Late spring to early autumn—May through September—is generally the best time to catch mackerel in Ireland. These months coincide with the mackerel's migratory patterns, bringing them closer to shore and within reach of a casting line.

Choosing the Right Time and Tide

The best time to fish for mackerel is during the early morning or late evening when these predators are actively feeding. Pay attention to the tides as well; many seasoned anglers swear by fishing during high tide or the initial hours of a falling tide.

The Importance of Location

While you can catch mackerel from various types of shoreline, piers are particularly effective because they allow you to cast your line into deeper waters. Look for piers near rocky outcrops or close to harbours, as these areas are likely to attract schools of mackerel.

Gear Up: Mackerel Feathers and Rigs

Mackerel Feathers

Mackerel feathers are colorful, multi-hook rigs designed to imitate a school of small fish. These are highly effective because mackerel are schooling fish themselves and are attracted to this kind of presentation.

Other Essential Gear

  • A medium action spinning rod between 8-10 feet
  • A spinning reel with a good drag system
  • 15-20 lb test monofilament or braided fishing line
  • Swivels and lead weights to keep your rig at the desired depth

The Technique: Casting and Retrieving

  1. Casting: Stand at the edge of the pier and cast your feather rig as far out as possible.

  2. Sinking: Let the rig sink for a few seconds to reach the desired depth. The depth can vary, but a good starting point is around 15-30 feet.

  3. Retrieving: Start reeling in at a steady pace. Make sure to jerk the rod occasionally to give the feathers a more lifelike, erratic motion.

  4. The Strike: When you feel a strong pull, set the hook with a swift upward motion of the rod.

  5. Reeling In: Keep the line tight and reel in steadily. Mackerel are known for their fight, so be prepared!

  6. Landing the Fish: Use a net to land the fish, being careful to avoid the sharp teeth and hooks.

Catch and Release or Dinner?

If you plan to keep your catch, it's crucial to know the local regulations regarding size and bag limits. Alternatively, catch and release is a responsible choice if you're fishing for the thrill rather than the grill.


Fishing for mackerel from a pier in Ireland is a rewarding experience that offers the thrill of the catch and the beauty of the Emerald Isle's coastline. By choosing the right location, understanding the best times and tides, and mastering the use of mackerel feathers and rigs, you're well on your way to a successful fishing adventure.

Happy fishing!