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.
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/daylights click here.
Feathers have been used as a fishing lure for decades, as a feather pulled though 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 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 containing either three or 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 are more manageable and less likely to tangle when casting or reeling in. Buy Trace Builder Mackerel Feathers (pictured above) in either three hook or six hook rigs from Sea Angling Shop by clicking here.
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 white and reflective silver 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 hook or six hook, 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.
Other Artificial Lure Rigs
Other types of artificial daylight-style lures include hokkais (also referred to as hokeyes). These are another type of artificial lure which usually consist of a luminous bead, a rubber section (which resembles the head and body of a small fish) and feathers and/or artificial fibres. While these are most commonly used for boat fishing many anglers use hokkais fitted with smaller hooks to catch fish from the shore. Other types of daylight-style lures include tinsella lures which are made of multiple strands of silver synthetic material, while muppets are large lures which resemble squid, and are generally used for boat fishing.
What is Best: Feathers or Daylights?
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. 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 do. 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 that daylights outfish feathers, or vice versa, and 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 are the main target of most anglers using this type of lure. However, other feathers and daylight can come with different sized hooks. Some designed for smaller fish such as herring can come fitted with size 4 or 6 hooks or even smaller, while 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.
Generally, feathers and daylights are manufactured in massive quantities in China and then imported to Britain. The quality of feather and daylight rigs is not the same as professionally made bait fishing rigs but is still usually sufficient for the type of fishing which is carried out by anglers targeting mackerel. 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 misgivings over quality most anglers find that ready-made feather and daylight rigs are perfectly sufficient for catching mackerel around the UK.