Feathers and Daylights

Fishing with feathers and daylights is hugely popular with UK anglers. A visit to any pier, breakwater or steep beach in the summer months will see masses of anglers using strings of feathers and daylights to catch mackerel. Feathers and daylights are so popular because they are cheap and very effective – cast a string of six into a shoal of mackerel and an angler can potentially catch a fish on every hook. While feathers and daylights are overwhelmingly associated with fishing for mackerel they can also be used to catch other species such as pollock, coalfish, gurnard, greater sandeel, small bass and a range of other species may occasionally be caught on these type of lures.

Mackerel caught on a string of daylights.
Mackerel caught on a string of daylights.

This article is about the different types of feathers and daylights available to anglers, for information on the methods and techniques to fish with feathers and daylights click here.

Feather Rigs

Trace Builder Mackerel Feathers
Trace Builder Mackerel Feathers

Lures made by dressing a hook with a feather go back centuries, as a feather pulled through the water looks very much like a small fish. Modern feather rigs do not vary much from this design and generally consist of either natural or synthetic feathers which have been dyed in a range of colours (most commonly red, yellow, orange, green, blue, white and black). These feathers are then mounted onto hooks and tied into a rig with most having three to six feathers. While some rigs can consist of feathers of a single colour most anglers prefer to use a mix of colours, although it should be noted that mackerel are unfussy feeders and will snap at anything resembling a small fish, regardless of colour. While six hook feather rigs will potentially catch more fish, many anglers prefer to use three hook feather rigs due to the cheaper cost and the fact that they less likely to tangle when casting or reeling in. Buy WSB Coloured Mackerel Feathers (in three hook or six hook rigs) from Sea Angling Shop by clicking here, or WSB White Mackerel Feathers by clicking here.


White Daylights
A white daylight rig.

Daylights consist of a strip of synthetic plastic material which is mounted to a hook. When pulled through the water they look like small fish, and predatory fish are tempted into attacking. Daylight rigs can come in a range of different colours, but reflective silver and white are by far the most common. Sometimes daylights can have different coloured head sections (as the picture to the right shows). While feather rigs are often either three to six hooks, daylights most commonly come in rigs with four daylights included. Daylight rigs are just as popular as feather rigs with anglers, with some anglers preferring them over more traditional feathers. WSB Flasher Daylights are bright silver daylights that are available on rigs containing four lures and come complete with a link and swivel. Click here to view and purchase from Sea Angling Shop for £1.19 each. Similarly, WSB White Daylights can be viewed and purchased by clicking here.

Other Artificial Lure Rigs

Hokkais consist of a bead, plastic section and feathers.

Other types of artificial daylight-style lures include hokkais (also spelt hokeyes). These are another type of artificial lure which usually consist of a luminous bead, a plastic section (which resembles the head and body of a small fish) and feathers and/or artificial fibres attached to the hook. While these are most commonly used for boat fishing many anglers use hokkais fitted with smaller hooks to catch fish from the shore – high-quality TronixPro Lumi Hokkais can be purchased by clicking here. Other types of daylight-style lures include tinsella lures which are made of multiple strands of silver synthetic material. Koike Silver Star Lures are a type of tinsella lure that can be purchased from Sea Angling Shop by clicking here. For anglers looking to purchase an inexpensive but effective fishing lure for mackerel fishing, Cronus Budget Mackerel Lures are available in green and white for only 89p per packet. Finally, feather and daylight lures which are specifically designed to catch smaller species such as herring are also available, such as these TronixPro Apache Feathers which come fitted with size 4 hooks.

What is Best: Feathers or Daylights?

Coalfish Caught on Daylight
Species other than mackerel can be caught on feathers and daylights, such as this coalfish.

There is no evidence that there is any difference in catch rates between feathers and daylights, with the decision on which to use coming down to anglers’ personal choice. Some anglers prefer daylights as the artificial material can reflect sunlight better and there is the belief that fish can see daylights more clearly than feathers in deep and murky or coloured water. Daylights are also seen as more robust and potentially longer-lasting than feathers. However, other anglers prefer feathers due to the natural movement in the water and believe that they imitate the movements of a small prey fish better than daylights. Feathers also come in a range of colours and there is the belief that this may be more attractive to predatory fish. Despite ongoing debate, there is no definitive evidence as to which is the most effective type of lure. The decision to use feathers, daylights, hokkais or any other type of artificial lure comes down to the simple personal preference of anglers.

Hook Size, Swivels, Links and Quality

The vast majority of daylights and feathers come with size 2/0 hooks fitted, which is the ideal size for mackerel which are the main target of most anglers using this type of lure. However, daylights which are designed to be baited and used to catch big cod and ling when boat fishing can come with size 6/0, 7/0 or even 8/0 hooks, while feathers and daylights designed for smaller fish such as herring can come fitted with size 4 or 6 hooks or even smaller. Anglers should therefore be careful that they are purchasing feathers or daylights with the correct sized hooks for the species they are targeting. Most feathers and daylights are manufactured in massive quantities in China and then imported to the UK meaning the quality of feather and daylight rigs is not the same as professionally tied bait fishing rigs. The better quality feather and daylight rigs may come with a link or clip for anglers to attach a weight to their rig, but due to the cheap and cheerful nature of these rigs, they rarely come with swivels included. Despite their mass-produced origin, most anglers find that ready-made feather and daylight rigs are perfectly sufficient for catching mackerel around the UK.