Using feathers to catch mackerel is often lots of fun during the summer when the mackerel are prolific. When there are lots of mackerel around its more than possible to catch well over a hundred mackerel in a session.
Some people call mackerel feathers "flies", but basically they are the same thing. Mackerel feathers can be bought in different colours with varying amounts of feathers on each trace. You can buy feathers that have three, six and even 12 hooks per trace. I would recommend sticking to no more than six works per trace.
Mackerel feathers don't always use bird feathers. A lot of the traces nowadays use silver pieces of plastic to imitate small fish. It doesn't really matter what you use, they will all be very efficient at catching mackerel.
When you use feathers you want to cover as much area of the sea as possible. Therefore, it's best to use a sturdy rod that is able to cast at least 4 ounces. There is nothing stopping you from using a small light spinning rod, however, be aware that it's not that easy to haul several mackerel up the side of the breakwater, or rocks when you're using a very light flimsy rod.
Attaching mackerel feathers to your main line is very easy. Simply tie a swivel onto the main line. Then tie your feathers onto the swivel using a strong blood knot. Then simply attach your weight to the bottom of the feathers and you are ready to go.
In order to use mackerel feathers properly, you need to put some action into them so they look like a group of small fish that mackerel feed on. Mackerel will often feed at various depths so it's always a good idea to test at varying depths of water. You can start off by retrieving the feathers in the upper layers of the water. Cast out as far as you can and count to 2 or three and then start retrieving the feathers. However, don't just wind them in, put some action into them. I like to use a method called the "sink and draw". Start winding and when you have taken up the slack line lift the rod sharply to about the 11 o'clock position. Some people prefer to keep the rod at the 9 o'clock position and pull the rod back behind them, either way, you are okay. You will know when a mackerel takes your feathers because as soon as you pull the rod back you will feel a resistance. Then all you do is simply reel the mackerel in.
If you're not getting any bites then you may be fishing at the wrong depth. It's quite easy to check the depth you are fishing at, one second equals about 1 feet in depth. If you're fishing over sand and don't neglect the bottom. You will often find the larger mackerel residing right at the bottom. So let the mackerel feathers sink all the way down and then bump them across the bottom. However, don't do this if you are fishing over rocks because the chances are you will lose your feathers.
Fishing mackerel feathers are simplicity itself, you can catch a ton load of mackerel very quickly. It's very easy to get greedy when you are using feathers, I've seen people carrying bags of mackerel home with them only to find them dumped in the bins. If you're not going to eat or keep them for bait then the best thing to do is return them alive.