When someone goes fishing in the ocean for the first time there is always one fish they want to catch the most, sharks! Having a large shark start ripping line off a reel is a rush and defiantly and it typically a great experience. Sharks are commonly caught offshore and from the beach.
After catching lots of sharks they become more of a hassle when they try to eat other fish being reeled in.
This happens with hammerhead chasing Tarpon and a Dusky shark eating tuna or that fish you did not get to see because the line starts peeling off the reel and then gets cut. Location and time of year is important depending on the shark species being targeted.
Once you get a few miles offshore and put chum in the water sharks will generally appear. Fishing near shore can be very seasonal so checking fishing reports to see when sharks are expected to be in your area is important. Often times sharks come around the same time every year and in big numbers.
Hopefully when a shark bites a steel leader is being used and the rod and reel are large enough to land the shark. Most shark species are protected and can not be harvested and the ones that can be generally have to be a minimum of 54 inches in length to keep.
In our experience it is better experience when the shark is released safely. This can be done with a large de-hooker or by cutting the hook with a large bolt cutter.
Below I have listed the best shark fishing rigs and baits to catch big sharks. I have a lot of experience fishing in the Florida Keys for sharks.
AFW Stainless Steel Wire Leader
AFW stainless steel leader works great for most sharks. Generally leader is bought about 20 pounds heavier than the line being used. Sharks are not that picky when it comes to the leader. Just have nice bait ready and if sharks are around they typically bite.
Crane swivels are good to use with the wire leader. These are small are rated from 78 to 511 pound test.
This is what the setup should look like. The swivel should be in the loop opposite the hook. If a loop is on the end of the wire as shown in the picture a snap swivel could be used. This if an alright idea when trying to get the bait into the water quickly. Generally using the crane swivel is preferred to prevent tangles.
Wire was chosen to be the number one setup because it works great and allows rigs to be made without a crimp kit. All that is needed is a good pair of pliers and a wire cutter if the pliers does not cure wire. To make the rig first cut off three or four feet of wire, wrap one end through the swivel and twist it back on itself. Twist the other end on the hook side and you have a nice shark rig ready to catch sharks or any other toothy creature that decides to bite. Generally we use this when expecting sharks to be 5 feet and under. For bigger sharks we would switch to a steel cable. Wire rigs can certainly be used to catch sharks over 5 feet. The cable does sometimes get bent which is not ideal and can make it a pain to store the leaders after use. A fresh water rise of the rig should be done after each used and it should be stored in a dry location to prevent rust.
When making a heavy duty shark rig the 250 lb cable is the best option.
This is a basic crimper. This works with the single or double barrel crimps made from copper or aluminum sleeves.
Mini Copper Double Barrel Crimp Kit 100pcs each .8,1.0,1.2 and 1.4mm 50 – 180lb crimps.
Owner Super Mutu Circle Hooks. These hooks are bigger than they look in the picture. Size 10/0 is a good size for most sharks. Know what size shark is being targeted. If small reel with 50lb line is being used a 16/0 hook is probably not the correct size.
Circle Hooks are the way to go for most shark situations. These hooks help prevent the shark from getting hooked deep in the mouth or gut. Even with circle hooks the drag should be tighten up the drag quickly once a shark is pulling line of the reel. In the Gulf of Mexico circle hooks are always required by law. A good bloody fish type is the best bait to use for most sharks. We have had luck with most fish as bait with the exception of catfish, don’t use catfish as bait unless it is the only bait available. For offshore fishing a piece of bonita is a perfect bait. The baits can be suspended off a balloon or waited with a egg sinker and sent to the bottom.
Goture Stainless Steel Fishing Hooks Long Shank Extra Strong hooks for Saltwater, size 6/0-12/0 with 10 hooks per pack.
J hooks work great when the shark can be seen from the boat and the bait is basically pitched to the shark. This way when the shark takes the bait the drag can be tightened quickly so it gets hooked in the corner of the mouth where it will be easier to remove.
DU-BRO Fishing E/Z Load Chum Bag, 14 inch diameter opening with a 6 foot rope.
Although a chum bag is not a lure it is a must have when fishing for sharks. Sometimes catching other fish brings sharks to the area but most times chumming is needed to attract sharks and other fish to the area. Once chumming starts sharks typically show up in 15 minutes to 1 hour. After 1 hour if no sharks show up it is a good idea to move to a different location. The boat should be anchored when chumming otherwise their will not be a good scent trail leading back to the boat. Try and have baits in the chum slick, neat the surface and deep near the bottom. Shark can easily be missed if baits are not at the right depth. Fishing for sharks can be relaxing with some down time while waiting for shark to show up.
Additional Must Have Item for Shark Fishing
ARC DeHooker Big Game 34 – Inch Hook Remover
DeHookers are great way to remove hooks from fish. This is also true for sharks. Hands should never be near the mouth of a shark during the release. Use extreme caution when releasing sharks. Where protective gloves when handling the leader. To remove the hook tension should be added to the leader line and the hook should then be pushed forward with the Dehooker. This should dislodge the hook. After the hook is free tension should remain on the leader and Dehooker while the hook and Dehooker are removed from the sharks mouth. If this does not work cut the wire or cable as close to the hook as safely possible with large bolt cutters. Cutting the hook is another good option because the other half will likely slide out over time. Hooks do eventually rust away but depending where the hook is located this can still case problems for the shark.
Thanks for visiting Global Fishing Reports. I hope these suggestions help you catch more sharks!
If you have any suggestions for top shark baits, leave a comment below!
Captain Cody has worked on charter fishing boats in the Florida Keys, Virgin Islands and Alaska. Cody grew up in Pennsylvania and has also done extensive freshwater fishing including bass fishing tournaments. Cody strives to provide detailed information about the best fishing gear and tactics to help both novice and experienced anglers have a more productive and enjoyable time on the water. Cody also has a background in aerospace engineering and neuroscience but really only takes pride in being good at one thing and that is fishing!