Traditional handlines are still the most common method of fishing used to catch mackerel in the summer and winter. A simple wooden frame holds around 40 metres of nylon gut to which a set of 'feathers' (or plastics) are attached on a swivel. A one pound lead weight keeps the line taught while fishing. There are subtle variations on this rig, some fishermen use a ring at the swivel end to hold the line clear while the fish are shaken off.
The fisherman relies on his knowledge of the tide, weather and other conditions to select a particular spot to fish. The handline is trailed over the stern of the boat at slow speed. Once fish begin to bite, the rudder is put hard over to one side and the boat begins to come round and circle on the same spot. On hauling the line, half a dozen hooks or so are shaken or flicked at a time to release the fish into the boat.
There is an art to avoid getting any of the 24 or more hooks caught in your hand! The line is returned to the water as quickly as possible to keep the fish 'interested' and maintain their feeding pattern. A top day's fishing in the winter might see over 300kg caught by one boat.