Here we are again, after a full 12 months, ready to look forward to another year’s shark fishing and the 2019 season! There's plenty to think about this season, so do take the time to read our handy guide.
UK Shark Fishing Guide
With the 2019 season set to be more popular than ever - we look ahead, take a closer look and break the sport down into bite sized chunks in our fishing guide.
Many charter boats now have excellent gear on board but most anglers will enjoy using their own tackle and a basic outfit for blues needn’t be that expensive. Have a look at the NEW Daiwa Super Kenzaki Rod in the 40/60lbs class teamed with a medium multiplier such as the Avet LX Reel and you’re ready to go!
There has been a tendancy over the past few years towards lighter gear but just bear in mind the target species when you plan your outfit. Lighter gear such as suitable spinning rods are fine for summer blue sharks but not for early or late season porbeagles. Its always best to check with your skipper on what he advises. You can also check out our blue shark tackle and porbeagle shark tackle pages for recommended kit.
With anglers targeting larger specimens, we supply shark fishing belts and harnesses. Fishing for summer blue sharks may not require any support from a belt or harness, but you may need to consider one for porbeagles. We are also frequently thrilled to help some of our older customers or those with injuries, set themselves up with a belt and harness combination that enables them to continue to enjoy or embark on a shark trip. It is certainly easier to do this in our showroom than over the phone, but we are very happy to help advise and set up belt and harness combinations to match the rod, reel and line.
We also stock specialist spinning reel harnesses and straps to cater for anglers using this type of gear.
Terminal tackle hasn’t really evolved past the style of rigs that Rok Max have been providing for over 20 years. A 4ft bite trace of around 400lbs, attached by a snap link to a 12ft rubbing leader of 275-400lbs wire and your choice of main line is the normal set-up. We are repeatedly asked about monofilament rubbing traces and some anglers insist on using these above the 4ft bite trace. Our advice, based on the fact that we have seen to many sharks bite through mono traces, is to not recommend them for shark fishing. If the shark rolls, it has taken up the first 4ft of wire. If it rolls again its 4ft up the trace and if its mono, even a modest blue shark will slice through the line like a knife through butter. The reason for the link between the bite trace and the rubbing leader is to allow the skipper or angler to disconnect the bite trace safely.
We have spoken about wire before but just to recap. We use AFW 49-strand fishing wire because it is the best. It is manufactured to tight tolerance in terms of stranding and breaking strain. Cheaper wires may not break at the stated strain, and will almost certainly not stand repeated bouts of tension without the breaking strain reducing. Why risk losing the fish of a lifetime because you have compromised on the wire?
Snaps & Swivels
With regard to swivels and snap links. It is very unlikely that you will break a decent quality barrel swivel. We sell both traditional barrels and the ball bearing barrel swivels. The ball bearings provide a smoother action under load, but in reality, both types in anything over 300lbs will be adequate.
Snap links are a different issue though. Situated between the bite trace and the rubbing leader to allow the rig to be separated, the snap link is in prime position to be involved in the section when a shark rolls, which they do frequently.
Imagine this scenario. If you take a section of wire with a snap link in the middle, you will never pull it apart, even with two people. Now imagine if the wire was looped over a large shark that was twisted or had its body bent. Image the force that that shark can exert by straightening its body out. Again, in a straight pull, the shark will never pull open a snap link of 250lbs, but if that same shark is using its body muscle to leverage against the wire then this can bend out weaker snap links. For this reason we recommend using 440lbs Rosco or AFW snap links.
Components can be purchased from us to make your own traces or you can purchase our ready made shark traces.
Shark Fishing Hooks
Hooks for shark fishing is a topic for debate. Some skippers now use circle hooks exclusively, and the results cannot be disputed. Other skippers insist on a larger hook size and this to can have its benefits in terms of avoiding deep hooking.
One of our favourites is the ultra-sharp Owner Tournament Mutu Circles in 10/0. These hooks are deceptively fine, but have been responsible for the landing of some of the biggest sharks last year. If you want something heavier then have a look at the Cox & Rawle Mutsu Circles, again in 10/0 or the ever popular Mustad 39960D Hooks.
For traditional J hooks, we favour the 10/0 size, and the most popular pattern is the Mustad 7731D Hook.
Whatever hooks you choose, we strongly recommend you don’t use stainless steel patterns in case you need to cut the trace leaving the hook in the shark. Tinned patterns such as those mentioned will rust out very quickly.
Shark Fishing Methods
An increasing number of anglers are now using lighter gear to target sharks, particularly the blues. It is always best to check with the skipper beforehand, but there is no reason not to target the blues with medium class spinning gear. This really is a great way to get the best from these sharks. Load the reel with a decent braid such as the Momoi Diamond Gen 3 Hollow Core Braid Line, and use the same conventional set up for terminal tackle.
There are a number of wind-on leaders available, which mean you can join the braid to heavy monofilament by a loop-to-loop connection, and wind the heavy mono onto the reel, but you still need to use the conventional wire leader set-up to prevent the shark rolling and biting through the mono. We supply the materials for making these leaders up as well as supplying ready-made wind-ons.
Some specialist anglers are using wire wind-on leaders. These do have advantageous particularly in a small boat where space and movement are limited but we would always urge caution if you intend to be directly connected to a shark by winding wire onto the reel for safety reasons especially if you are also strapped into a harness.
Those of you that have had experience or have heard about using fly rods to target sharks know that it is not fly fishing in the true sense of the word, hence the expression fly rodding. You are not going to delicately cast a large bunch of coloured feathers on a 14ft of wire trace without damaging something on your skippers’ delicate array of expensive electronics or your fellow crew members.
That said, the use of a fly rod differs significantly to the use of conventional tackle in that you are holding the rod all the time and in direct contact with the shark as it investigates and drops or takes the lure. To fight a blue (or porbeagle) shark on light fly gear truly adds a new level to the sport and outfits needn’t be expensive.
We would recommend a 14 weight Ocean Sticks Seawolf Fly Rod with a 11/12 Redington Behemoth Fly Reel.
Handling and Unhooking
We now advocate releasing sharks in the water, alongside the boat. We do not recommend taking the shark out of the water unless absolutely necessary.
To Chum or Not To Chum
Well we would never be able to reveal the exacting ingredients of some of the top skippers without ending up in the mix, but needless to say opinions and techniques vary. What is certain is that you must maintain a decent chum trail and that doesn’t mean sticking a bag over the rail at the start of the day and forgetting it. Chumming can be hard work and the best skippers are evident in their efforts to maintain a decent slick behind the boat. If conditions on the day mean you are not going to be able to achieve much of a drift to extend the chum trail, then consider power chumming, where you actually chum into the prop wash for the last half a mile or so to your chosen spot. This will give you a much better start if the tide or wind are reducing the drift.
Mixes vary, but you won’t go far wrong with a blend of mashed mackerel or herring, some horse bran to retain the oils, some fish oil, and some water to blend it. Make up a large enough batch to keep refreshing the chum sacks suspended round the boat as a strong and unbroken chum trail is often the key to success.
Halibut pellets add oil and release it at different speeds so these can be added to the mix.
Another tip is to pre-freeze your chum mix into blocks. This makes transporting easier, and can save time on the day. While it was always a traditional part of shark fishing to catch and make the chum, anglers now tend to buy their mackerel in bulk so they can make the most of their day actually fishing. For hook baits, consider mackerel, herring, squid and even trout, which is surprisingly successful and toughens up in salt water.
Choosing a Charter Boat
As a result of enquiries we will shortly be changing the charter boat section on our website to only feature boats that specialise in shark (and tuna) fishing. There are plenty of charter websites offering general wrecking trips, so we are going to concentrate on those that offer shark fishing.
Keep an eye out for the new abroad overseas section. As well as big game fishing there is some exceptional shark fishing to be had with hammerheads and mako in Madeira for example.
Prospects for 2019
First of all let’s hope the weather improves as the summer goes on! After such an amazing summer last year with long periods of calm, settled conditions this year’s weather patterns have been more erratic.
I’ve noticed a couple of trends so far this year:-
- There seems to be a much greater interest in catching huge six-gill sharks. These fish live in deep water and it seems their range is greater than many people previously thought. They reach huge sizes and are true sea monsters. If you are interested in targeting them you will need substantial tackle – for instance you will need a reel will a very large line capacity to fish the depths they inhabit. This will need to be filled with braid (ideally Momoi Diamond Hollow Core) to max out the line length held. Traces and terminal gear needs to be up to scratch to bring these fish to the surface.
- After such a great season last year lots of our customers will be targeting thresher sharks along the south coast for the first time. These are very powerful, acrobatic, hard fighting game fish and they require strong gear that is totally fit for purpose to land them.
Shark fishing has received some bad press recently and it is up to us as anglers to prove that we have taken steps to ensure these amazing creatures have a bright future in UK waters. The SACGB will be reviewing their rules and best practice to ensure that as many sharks as possible are released unharmed after capture. Please support these initiatives.
TIGHT LINES - ALLAN