Shark Rigs 101 including a full mullet bait presentation technique
In the FL forum we had a long debate and tackle discussion about shark fishing and I realized it might have been improved if we continued in the open forum and perhaps added some pictures to explain our terms. So I felt I'd give a few pointers on the things I've learned in the past 7 yrs of serious sharking. I hope others might add as well so we have a nice large catch all for sharking. This sport has gained popularity recently, especially on this forum.
Some basics component info before we get into rigs. First, always use cable, not single strand wire. Sharks will kink and pop single strand in a matter of seconds. If you can find coated cable it's even better because it dampens the electrical signal your wire will give off that the shark could pick up. I use 250-300# cable because it's thicker. I've had small (~40#) sharks actually cleave 135# coated cable near shore. The added pressure of the shark being up close and the wire getting caught between teeth will cut it like a pair of shears. The 350-300# cables are all 49 strand wire and hold up very well to long fights.
Second, when considering your leader to follow the steel cable think abrasion resistance, not size of animal. Eighty pound mono leader may be right for the size of the shark, but its skin stands a very good chance of fraying that leader to pieces before you can get it near shore. I tend to use 200-300# mono depending on what is cheapest and available at my b&t when I need a refill. Even with high test mono I tend to have to change out leaders after a few long fights when the line is visibly frayed and scuffed. Just watch your leader and make the judgment call.
Last, choose circle hooks and make them in the 10 o/-18 o/ size depending on the shark size you want. the 18o/ range of the spectrum should be for large 4-8# dead baits and large sharks while 10 o/ will give great hook ups for small to medium sharks (3-6'). Circles give a clean hook in the corner of the mouth reducing bite off and gives a better release so the shark can live to fight again. Now to rigs...
There are two major schools of thought for beach sharking (at least for FL), those are long leader yaking and short leader casting. RR recently came gave a bible thread for pulley rig (hybrid of both schools) design for sharking, but I haven't really had time to try it so I'll stick to what I know and let him fill in the holes. His thread in the bible is great for that.
Long leader rigs are just as they sound. They use more steel and mono leader. The rule of thumb is twice the length of the shark you're targeting. This is to keep the mainline from getting wrapped around the animal and being abraded off. I tend to use a 15-20' leader. It's composed of an 18 o/ circle crimped to some 300# cable.
I tend to use 2' of cable, but some people claim anything less than 4-5' is risky on larger sharks. I have yet to be bit off with 2', but hey different strokes. I attach this cable with a 350# swivel that is also crimped to my mono mainline.
I use swivels in the steel to mono so they rig can pivot if the shark is thrashing heavily. The worst thing that can happen in a fight is if the shark can wrap up in your line and possibly rub you off at the mainline or get a chance to bite through the leader/mainline. Swivels help the rig pivot and with continuous pressure you can keep your rig away from the shark and prevent a full wrap up. The snap swivel in the picture is what I use for weight attachment. It allows me to have the rig act like a fish finder rig and also change weights out dependent on the conditions.
I use either regular drop sinkers or sputniks. I found in FL a 6oz sputnik will hold as well as a 10oz drop sinker even in tough conditions. The sputniks are more expensive, but they also help hook sets. The sputnik buries in the sand and when the shark reaches the end of the leader the weight in the sand creates the pressure needed to set the circle hook in the corner of the jaw. Since switching to sputniks I've increased my hook ups noticeably.
Your finished rig should look something like this and this one is 17' long and ready for a large bait of your choosing.
The casting leader is made the same way only I used lighter cable and mono (200# cable, 200# mono) to reduce weight. The hook is a 10 o/ owner, cable is 12-18", and the mono is 6'. This allows a rig that is able to be thrown with a 12' heavy rod a good 75-100 yds depending on bait and winds. The sinker is set up fish finder style again so that it will rest close to the bait making the entire rig easier to cast.
Some additional gear I always keep around are thick leather gloves, measuring tape, NOAA Apex Predator Program tags, and needle dart tagger. If you want to tag sharks as well, make a request to the address listed on the Apex Predator Program website (in my sig). I've tagged ~40 sharks in the 1 1/2 yrs I've been a part of it and already they've recaptured one and gave me all the info on its migration and growth. Really cool to get the info, help science, and get a great free hat if they recapture one of your sharks.
Another important component NOAA recommends, especially if you're tagging, is a guide to sharks. They'll give you a basic one, but recommend this one. It's by Jose Castro, written in the 70’s but the authoritative guide to all sharks in all the oceans and gulfs surrounding the US. I picked mine up for $3 at a flea market but they can also be found on Amazon. It has excellent drawings and great lists of markings and morphology to use to determine which species you landed. When sharks are small they are tough to separate, but this book does an excellent job.
BIG BAIT RIGGING
I use a lot of slab baits like whole 28" jack fillets or 4# chunks of stingray, and they work great. Another type of bait I got turned on to recently was using whole fish dead baits with a double hook rig. What I like about using a whole fish is small sharks and bluefish can't strip my fillet in quickly making me have to rebait and reyak my line every 45 minutes. They can take some chunks out of it, but the majority of the bait remains. Plus using the whole bait that has been dressed to accommodate hooks means it will leak a nice slow and steady scent trail even if torn up by little critters. With a big dead bait they last a good 4-6 hrs even if little sharks are trying to peck them to pieces. Here's an outlined procedure I used on a 24" horse mullet back in June. It was a nice 3# bait that fooled a 6.5' blacktip. All you need is you rig, bait knife, a bait, wax thread, and a mortician's needle.
First, stick the hook into the mouth of the mullet and thread the hook past the gills and out the gill covering. If you've got a double hook rig, pull the first hook through until you can position and thread the second hook through as well.
Now slit the bait's belly from just past the pec fins to the anus. Line up your hooks to see where they'll fit. If your hook spread is too large you may need to cut past the anus. The slit should be long enough to hide the shank of both hooks. Don't cut through the pectoral girdle (the bones the pec fins are connected) as this will provide a place to further thread your hooks into the body cavity. Now this girdle provides a strong brace so your bait isn't stripped from your hooks. Also as the bait is nipped it will still keep firmly attached to the hooks for when the large shark comes around.
Lay the hooks along the slit in the body cavity and position them for maximum gap exposure. Now you'll need some wax thread and a morticians needle. Both can be found at any offshore tackle supplier and are cheap.
Start stitching from head to anus along the slit. Try to keep the cable under the flaps of the slit so it stays buried in the body cavity. Every once in a while I will loop the wax thread a few times though both body cavity and cable to try and keep the hooks tightly positioned. When you reach one of the hooks, wrap around it 3 times at the base of the sit and pull tightly towards the anus and put a stitch in that direction so it keeps the tension. This will pull the hook away from the bait improving hook exposure and keeping the hook in this position until the shark takes the bait. Do the same at the second hook and then finish closing the slit. Viola, you've got a big, perforated bait that will hold tight and has two nicely exposed hooks to better snare the shark no matter where he grabs your bait.
ROD/REEL AND LINE
I am going to purposely leave out details on rod/reel set ups because everyone has something different and many times it's contentious. All I'll say is I like to use conventional (sealines and senators) for yakked baits, and spinning set ups (baitrunners mostly) for casting rigs. I tend to you power pro backing with mono top shots to give me 600-800 yds of line. When fighting the shark all you need is plenty of line to keep up with him as he paces the shore for hours. However, some sharks will go offshore and the best you can do is try to stop them or break off before they spool you.
I hope this helps some of the people who are looking to get into sharking and have questions. I also hope other people will chime in with their rigs and pictures and maybe more tackle tips. The more we share the better we'll all be at landing the big boys.
Tight lines fellas
NICE, Aaron! As usual...
Great presentation, but have a bit of a problem with the crimping technique. Here's a site that explains how I was taught.
Great job Aaron! Thanks for putting this out there. Definitely will be a help!
Thanks arron, I learned something new today.
I am just getting into this whole shark thing. I live in Atlanta, so I only get to go 2 or 3 times a year, but LOVE it. Up until now, I've always just chartered a boat, but would love to try some fishing from the beach. I don't have a yak, and don't see myself getting one any time soon, but what would be a good casting setup from the beach?
here is an excellent field guide to shark id -- over 20 sharks - one to a page - great sketches & tips on id
Depends on how expensive you wanna get:
Originally Posted by pbmang
Rod 12' OM Heaver $130 - Reel Daiwa Opus Plus 5500 $75
Very informative , great Pics.
Also to note I've done wax thread tying of chunk baits to double hook rigs to aid the exposure of the hook. I do this by stitching along the first hook shank and down the cable leading to the second hook and ending with a few shank wraps. This also allows a big chunk bait to have two nicely exposed circlehooks and they tend to turn into the bait less. So the hooks find corner mouth, not the bait itself.
I always had trouble avoiding them! If I were going to seriously fish for sharks, I'd use a trolley rig. A long mud rod with a sputnik to anchor with and a fighting rod which releases to fight the shark unencumbered by a heavy sinker.
You can hook a bait almost any way and a shark, if hungry, will eat it. I would use half of rotten stingray for bait. It's called 'shark candy' to the unwashed.
Send This Thang to the Bible!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thanks, I've been looking for info on the sliding trace for days and you were the first one good enough to actually post pics and shows how it works.
Dude, this isn't the best rig to be honest. Go to sharks on the sand and join up. My username there is bunnlevel sharker
Where is Bunn Level?
Originally Posted by NC KingFisher
Any other Sharkers in Bunn Level?
Pictures by the original poster revealed some pretty nice stitching on that Mullet, so quit being so negative
My Shark rig may not be a pro rig it is a Mustad 92553 9/0 with a 100 pound test bite leader and with a Mullet head (No stitching required) it sure attracts Sharks though
I was referring to the crimping techniques and the way he led tag ends Garbo. And good luck finding Bunnlevel on a map my favorite shark rig for the most fun is 8ft of 400lb mono with a 12/0 mustad and a big bluefish or whiting. I like your rig to, but I usually bust em off when they get close on it
I just like that this post is from 2007. Dr. Jones bringing up the archives.
If you consistently have crimps failing, it's likely due to improper crimping (something many people do). Just my .02.
Originally Posted by NC KingFisher
And to think back in the day of plenty of big biters from the pier all we used was 15' or so of cable and a single 20/0 J hook run thru a big Tuna head. No multi hook or stitching required...Wish I had known then we were doing it all wrong, wouldn't be any biters left for y'all I guess.
true dat Mike,still a couple of old skool boys doing it on the northern banx,the only thing i have added over the years is panduit shrink wrap over the leashes,really makes a difference
Originally Posted by AbuMike
I shrink wrapped my cable swedges even back then
Originally Posted by sunburntspike
I use a trailer hook or two sometimes but I rubber band it, stitching seems like to much work for me.
I all ways Bust off the Sharks when they get close....that is what my Shark rig is designed for to get the Sharks off as soon as possible
Originally Posted by NC KingFisher
I would agree on differing crimping techniques and I would use two crimps and double crimp them to eliminate slippage
The Shark rigs I remember from the old days were straight 30 foot sections of 400 pound aircraft cable and sometimes a forged Chain Bite leader for the larger type Sharks and no crimps, they used small cable clamps with nuts and bolts and a 20/0 J hook as was mentioned previously.
There is a pretty neat old story on the Internet that was taken from a Study done in 1901 or so off the Outer Banks where a fella was commercially catching Sharks with nets, set lines and harpoons for the Tannery Trade...........Sharks were more prevalent then and things have just been getting worse for the Sharks in general
Evidently the best eating Shark at that time according to the Author was the Man Eater Shark as it was termed in those days.... ie. White Shark....White Pointer.....Jumping Jack.....or as we know it in the USA ...............Jaws
Any harpooners out there?
Hey I'm just getting into land base shark fishing and live close to you and looking for someone to fish with. I went this month to PC beach and caught some little black tips and sting ray but not much luck with my big boy rod penn 14/0 125 pound test line and I'm about to buy a yak and going back in oct and while there I learned a lot and now learning more and the same oct is good fishing and full moons are good for big hammers and that's what I wanna catch!! Have u had any luck?