Sharks come in all shapes and sizes, and this may require the use of various sized rods and reels, depending on your target species. It goes without saying that some species get larger than others, but in general, use common sense when targeting certain species. If you are targeting a large prohibited species such as a Great hammerhead just for sport, use the heaviest gear available, as you want to release the fish alive.
The Best Tackle for Sharks
Sharks can be caught using many types of gear, even on fly! The area and species targeted are the most important factors when choosing tackle. In general, whereas fly tackle is only effective on the flats and nearshore on calm days, spinning and conventional gear are interchangeable, each with their own pros and cons.
Spinning Tackle for Sharks
Spinning tackle is excellent for targeting sharks off the beaches and estuaries, where the easily-operated drag system can be used to fight the fish. It is generally the easiest to use and is therefore recommended for first-time shark anglers.
The “Perfect” Spinning Rod and Reel for Sharks:
- A 7-to-10 foot heavy spinning rod with fast action. Depending on the area fished, anywhere from 7-foot (inshore) to 10-foot (beaches) – heavy rods will have enough backbone for fighting sharks. A fast action will also allow for more powerful hook-sets.
- A heavy spinning reel. Choose a reel rated for 40-to-50 pound test line.
- A Spinning reel with a low-gear ratio. A lower gear ratio, which means that the spool will revolve relatively slowly when the handle is cranked, gives you more power to muscle sharks to the boat or shore.
Conventional Tackle for Sharks
When targeting sharks from a boat, a pier, or near structures that may cause breakoffs -- conventional tackle allows for more leverage over spinning tackle because of the physics of the rod-and-reel setup -– the line reels in parallel to the rod, and the reel sits on top of the rod, rather than below.
The “Perfect” Conventional Rod and Reel for Sharks:
- A 7-to-10 foot heavy casting rod with fast action. As with spinning tackle, a heavy rod will have enough backbone for fighting sharks. A fast action will also allow for more powerful hooksets.
- A heavy conventional reel. Choose a reel rated for 40-to-50 pound test line. A Conventional reel with a low gear ratio. As with the spinning tackle, a lower gear ratio gives you more power to muscle sharks to the boat or shore. Conventional reels give added leverage when compared with a spinning outfit, which can be particularly useful when fishing from a boat or pier.
Fly-Fishing Tackle for Sharks
Fly fishing is a popular method for targeting nearshore species such as blacktip, spinner, and bonnethead sharks. For inshore bonnetheads on the flats, a similar setup can be used as targeting redfish (an 8 to 10 weight flyrod), but use a heavier tippet – up to 80 pounds – for those teeth.
The “Perfect” Fly Rod and Reel for Sharks:
- A heavy 12-weight rod with fast action. The heavy weight rod, tied with a fast action, will give you more fighting power against the fish and a more powerful hookset.
- A matching 12-weight reel. The 12-weight matching line is often recommended for tarpon, and will be tough enough for most of the sharks you will catch on fly. You’ll need a fly reel capable of matching a heavy 12-weight rod, and heavy line attached to about an 80-pound tippet and big flies.
Summary: The Rods and Reels for Catching Sharks
It is important to remember to use heavy tackle when catching sharks, since many of them are prohibited from landing. Even for that blacktip you want to take home, getting the fish worked up is not good for the taste.
Use heavy spinning or conventional gear capable of 50-pound test line, and a 12-weight fly rod capable of heavy leaders and flies. When it comes to rods, a seven-foot rod with a very rigid backbone is excellent for muscling the fish to the boat or shore.