The waters around South Andros Island are extremely fertile – loaded not only with bonefish, but also mullet, jacks and countless other smaller critters. That means lots of food for sharks, which in turn means lots of sharks, which itself means that we like to fly fish for sharks.
South Andros has populations of bull sharks, nurse sharks, tiger sharks, hammerheads and more, but the most common sharks we see on the flats are lemons and blacktips, and those are what we catch the most of on flies.
Single Strand Wire
The most unusual piece of gear that you’ll need when fly fishing for sharks is also the most important – single strand wire leader. Sharks have really, really sharp teeth and really, really strong jaws. Coated, ‘knot-able’ braided wire that works fine for barracudas will not cut the mustard with sharks. You need to use the real deal – stuff like this.
To attach your fly (more on shark flies below) to your wire leader, you need to use a not-so-conventional ‘knot’ – the haywire twist. To attach the wire to the back section of your leader, you can use another haywire twist with a loop-to-loop connection or you can tie an Albright knot, with the doubled-over section being the wire.
10 weight rods are the minimum here. Many guests fish rods in the 10-12 weight range, but honestly that’s just because they don’t have anything heavier. Sharks get big and they can pull really hard. If you’ve got a really big stick like a 14 weight or more, bring it along– you’ll get a bend in it, we promise.
Reels need to be big with lots of backing capacity and a very durable drag. See the photo above for an example of what sharks do to reels.
Lines are floating because we’re fishing on the flats. Flies tend to be streamers in bright yellow, red or orange, or some combination thereof.
Most of the time sharks cruise slowly and steadily. To get a shark to eat you don’t need to strip your streamer really fast like you would with a barracuda. Just lead the shark, and get the fly right in front of his nose. Twitch it to keep it in front of him as he swims along and he’ll often just chew on it, in the words of our manager, ‘like a curious dog’.
Poppers and crease flies can also generate some real excitement when shark fishing. Sharks’ mouths are not really designed for surface feeding, so poppers and crease flies tend to get a lot of swipes and nudges from sharks but not a lot of hookups. That’s OK though – it’s still a ton of fun to watch a shark at least try to eat your surface fly.
When you do hook up, hold on and get ready for a battle. Sharks fight hard!
Teri Beatty says
Loved the info on Shark fishing. We are heading to Long Island for some Bone Fishing, but thought it would be fun to try for some Sharks. Do you have any fly suggestions? Thanks for a great time at Alaska West in August. Best week ever.
Hi Teri! We really enjoyed having you at Alaska West this past summer!
As far as I can tell, specific patterns for sharks aren’t really that important. Basically you want orange and red streamers with giant hooks, with the fly in as large a size that you can reasonably cast.
Have a great trip.
Felipe Hurtado says
thoughts on the reel the guy is holding: (Lamnson Reel)
It’s a sealed drag water proof, and has a very good stopping power, but you need to consider a detail, that I find not addressed by many. If you carry an extra spool, and are thinking in changing spools in the surf (saltwater), you efectively expose the enclosed drag system to the elements, it can take saltwater intrusion, provided you wash your reel when you get home, by that I mean, you have to dissassemble the whole drag system in order to rinse it, but saltwater in itself is not that bad, what is critical, is the fact that a single grain of sand can invade the drag assembly and scratch the hell out of the insides….also my one way bearings got rusted, because I followed the manufacturers recomendations, and did nothing after every outing…well,, you need to rinse everything after fishing the salt, my reel has been rusted, scratched from sand grains invading the drag cassette, and I’ve cleaned it my self, and still works as smooth and great as the first time, I called the manufacturer and they told me to send my reel for an inspection an maintenance, free of charge. I declined their offer, and the reel still performs great. they told me that as soon as I feel the drag slipping, to send it to them free of charge, great customer service huh?. On another topic….it’s a cast aluminum reel…..and so are many of the rims in the majority of the cars out there, you don’t hear of them failing compared to a machined bar stock rim, do you?. consider also that the reel is held in place by the preassure of an “O” ring, i had one spool that came off the reel while fighting a fish, the issue was promptly addressed by their customer service, and they sent me a whole new “O” ring assembly, it never happened again…there you have it. tight lines