When you’re pulling on big fish, especially with a fly rod, it is important to fight the fish with the butt of the rod, where you can generate maximum power and torque. Use short, powerful strokes and avoid raising the rod above eye level in order to maximize your efforts.
When my catch finally came alongside the boat, we kept it in the water, turned so the hook was on the inside and accessible. With a long-handled dehooker, which minimizes the chance of injury to the gaffer, angler and fish, we easily popped the barbless fly out of the shark’s jaw, then we watched the fish swim back where it belonged.
San Diego Sharks
San Diego is home to not only blues and makos; thresher sharks and great whites also have been caught in coastal waters on flies. It is not uncommon to see two or more different shark species on a single outing.
What: Fly-fishing for blue sharks.
When: October through April.
Where: San Diego, California.
Who: When you’re fishing for these creatures, it is important to put safety first. Blues rarely leave the water but can be dangerous when aggravated. If you want to face off with any shark, be sure to have the right gear and know how to use it. Take your maiden voyage with an experienced captain and you'll gain knowledge and an additional margin of safety.
Capt. John Hendrickson
When selecting your rig, don’t be afraid to scale up. Have three or four rods from 10- to 18-weight set up, to maximize your chance of landing a fish and minimize arm pumping. While not IGFA-legal, the practice of shark fishing that Hendrickson inherited from Capt. Conway Bowman and Capt. Dave Trimble, was designed to offer as much fun as possible while causing the least amount of damage to the sharks. Tactics include matching rod strength to shark size and fishing with barbless hooks.
Rods: 812- or 9-foot 10- to 18-weight fly rods, like Sage Xi3, Rajeff Sports Echo 2 Saltwater or equivalent.
Reels: Large-arbor reels able to hold 200 yards of backing, such as those by Abel, Galvan or Tibor.
Lines: Weight-forward floating fly line, such as 550-grain RIO Leviathan Big Game floating or similar line for 12- to 16-weight rods; it may help to go one line weight heavier than the rod rating to help turn over the leader with a bulky fly.
Leaders: 3 feet of 40-pound monofilament attached to a welded, forged welded or forged ring (aka a tuna ring) ending in 2 feet of 86-pound single-strand wire tippet Haywire Twisted to the hook.
Flies: 10- to 12-inch tube flies in red or orange, such as Trimble Shark flies by Umpqua, rigged over wide-gap 6/0 to 10/0 J hooks, such as Gamakatsu SL12S, Tiemco 600SP or equivalent.