TIPS FROM THE PROS!

The reasons for using surface lures over other presentations are quite varied, but most anglers will use them when they can, because a strike on the surface from a fired up fish is very exciting!

Check out the below insights from some expert anglers who share their preferred tackle and techniques for targeting hard-fighting topwater kingfish.

What's your favourite aspect of topwater fishing for kingfish?

Most likely the anticipation before the bite. Not knowing what’s about to happen next.

What's your favourite type of topwater lure to use for kingfish?

Floating stickbaits.

What's one thing you know now, that you wish you knew before you started casting topwater lures for kingfish?

Expensive Japanese lures are good, but there are cheaper options that work just as well! Ha ha.

What do you believe are the key signs to look for when casting topwater lures for kingfish?

I like to fish topwater around current, bait, pressure edges, islands and steep rises or pinnacles… or sneaky bust ups!

If you could only use one topwater combo for kingfish, what would it be?

Shimano Ocea Plugger Full Throttle 82MH paired with a Shimano Stella 14000XG and PE6 Ocea braid.

What line and leader do you use most of the time for kingfish?

80lb PowerPro and 150lb leader.

Any other tips you'd like to share?

Be patient as kingfish can be very fussy at times. Some days will be more difficult than others!

What's your favourite aspect of topwater fishing for kingfish?

It would have to be the visual aspect of laying a cast, seeing a follow and getting the bite. The surface hits can be brutal.

What's your favourite type of topwater lure (popper, floating stickbait etc) to use for kingfish?

My preference is stickbaits, they cast better than most poppers and have a realistic body profile. Kings are pretty cautious fish so the closer you can match your lure to the local bait the better. We mainly use 115 to 150mm stickbaits, and we definitely get more fish on the smaller models as they match our bait better. If I could only take one stickbait it would be an Ocea Pencil, those lures are amazing.

What's one thing you know now, that you wish you knew before you started casting topwater lures for kingfish?

When you get a follow, crank it even quicker. I remember in my earlier days slowing the retrieve and even pausing when a fish was following, but kingfish lose interest pretty quickly in a lifeless lure. Keep the lure moving. If you get to the end of your retrieve and the fish hasn’t hit the stickbait, get it back out and in front of it as soon as you can.

What do you believe are the key signs to look for when casting topwater lures for kingfish?

Spotting fish or bait is the key in my local waters. In the spring months we chase kings in the shallows which is pretty cool. This usually involves spotting packs of fish pushing over shallow water and then stalking them. In the warmer months and into autumn it’s all about the bluewater. We get some reasonable kingfish feeding together with our schools of bluefin, and that’s pretty cool fishing as we get both species hitting the topwater lures.

If you could only use one (Shimano) topwater combo for kingfish, what would it be? Why?

Targeting kingfish – especially the bigger models – demands quality tackle. You can scrimp on cheaper tackle for some species, but kingfish soon sort out the budget gear. My favourite topwater combo for kingfish is a Shimano Stella SWC 8000HG matched with a Grappler S80M which is 8’0” in length and rated at PE4. Because you’ll be laying a lot of casts in a day you want an outfit that has a bit of length yet still light-weight and capable of knocking over a decent fish. In my opinion, this outfit ticks those boxes for our local kings.

What line and leader do you use most of the time for kingfish?

I run PE4 Kairiki braid on my dedicated topwater outfit. I also have a lighter PE3 outfit I use, and while this casts even better than the PE4 it doesn’t offer as much pulling power and the fight time can drag out. I have used PE5 and PE6 but because we cast a lot of smaller 115mm stickbaits the casting distance wasn’t great on the heavier braid. From my PE4 mainline I run a 60lb fluorocarbon leader connected via an FG knot.

Any other tips you'd like to share?

If you’re going to throw surface lures at kings, check the terminal hardware on the stickbait or popper first. Some of the better topwater lures we use don’t need to be retrofitted – the terminals are HD straight from the box, but unfortunately not all lures are this well equipped. Check the hardware and retrofit with heavier terminals if they look on the light side.

What's your favourite aspect of topwater fishing?

Being able to see and manipulate your lure to get a fish to bite. 

What's your favourite type of topwater lure to use?

Probably floating and slow sinking stickbaits, I like the different actions and designs of stickbaits. The profile and finish of stickbaits is often very realistic, too.

What's one thing you know now, that you wish you knew before you started casting topwater lures?

Vary the retrieve speed and rod action. It’s amazing how kingfish respond to different retrieves. Sometimes, kingfish can be triggered by fast, aggressive rod sweeps. Other times, they can respond to a slower walk-the-dog action.

What do you believe are the key signs to look for when casting topwater lures?

The presence of baitfish is always good for confidence. I also like to concentrate effort around tide changes and wind changes. Early morning is always a good time to find kingfish around the rocks. 

If you could only use one topwater combo, what would it be?

Being mostly land based, I like longer rods. The Shimano Ocea Plugger Full Throttle 88H and Shimano Stella SWC 8000HG is a really light combo and you can cast all day with it. Also, the extra length helps with longer casts and to keep your lure in the water when up high.  

What line and leader do you use most of the time for kingfish?

It really depends on where I’m fishing and the bottom structure. I use PE3 and 60lb leader in some locations up to PE8 and 200lb leader for big kingfish off the rocks in New Zealand.

Any other tips you'd like to share?

Big fish off the rocks don’t come easy, be prepared to work for them and make sure your knots and terminal tackle is up to scratch. Some of my biggest kingfish have been caught on relatively small lures (120mm).