To Catch A Kingfish
Season: Kingfishing perks up in October and November, but mostly for smaller fish. The “Smokers,” as large kingfish are called, arrive as the water truly cools in December. Excellent options stretch through February.
Location: You can catch kingfish off Florida in many places, but the Keys—especially Key West and the Dry Tortugas—produce large fish. In fact, about half the IGFA records, including a 90-pound world record taken off Key West in 1976, were taken off the Keys.
Rods: Ten, 11 and 12-weights can tame these fish. A 10-weight handles most any size king because they stay pretty close to the surface, but an 11 or 12-weight is better for casting, especially if there’s wind.
Reels, Lines, Leaders: You need a quality saltwater reel with lots of backing. Load it with a sinking line. I prefer a fast-sinking striped bass line, but clear mono-core lines and Teeny-style sink-tips work well, too. Short, stout leaders with a trace of metal in them are essential. Gulf waters are not very clear, so piano wire and knottable braided wire work well.
Stripping Basket: You do have to cast, sometimes for distance, so a stripping basket is valuable.
Flies: When throwing in live pilchards, it makes sense to match that baitfish. I follow the big fish, big food theory. My flies are simply six or seven-inch long synthetic baitfish patterns.
Easy to tie and relatively easy to cast, and they work.