In any kind of fishing the key portion of your outfit is what is called terminal tackle. In the simplest of rigs, terminal tackle consists solely of a hook, with perhaps a swivel for attachment of its snell to the line. In more involved, terminal tackle includes a leader and, when fished, any sort of artificial lure. In shark fishing your terminal tackle will comprise of a hook, wire leader, and snap-swivel to connect leader to line. The outfit is simple. It's the preparation that requires a little doing. But after a few times you'll be making them like a pro.
If you want to catch some of these big bull sharks from a bridge you've got to fish "terminal tackle". You'll also need to be equipped with a rod and reel that can stand up to the power of these big bruisers. I fish an 80 wide Penn International reel loaded with 100 pound test monofilament line. The reel is on a Murray Brothers stand-up 50-80 pound class rod and is a "short stroker" tuna type stand up rod. Great for standup shark fishing. You can really apply the maximum amount of pressure when the fish turns and burns.
I've tried smaller rods and reels but just can't stop these huge fish from running out the channel in the attempt to get out the inlet to the open ocean. And when they swim along with the smoking out going current, that's just twice the amount of pressure now applied to your rod and reel. There's just no stopping what can't be stopped. These sharks are really tough and you can double that with the current ripping out the inlet.
Rigging begins with your wire leader. Measure off a desired length 15 to 18 feet or whatever and allow one extra foot for attachment to hook and snap-swivel. The next step is to attach this wire securely to a hook of suitable size.
Here's a quick general guide to the uses of the two types of hook arrangements: Stiff or fixed hooks (only for dead baits). Free or swinging hooks (primarily used for live baiting but can also be used for dead baits as well).
Connection of leader to hook and swivel are done by twisting the wire. Use a pair of pliers to hold the loop and then begin by twisting the one wire over top of the other wire. When you get use to this, you'll be holding the loop with one hand while you make the twists with the other. Make two series of twists. First comes the bailing wire type. When you fashion these, it's very important that the wire crosses itself like an "X". If you simply wrap the free end of the wire around the leader, the turns eventually could pull tight and all but close the loop. Make about 6 to 8 of the "X" turns in your bailing wire series.
The second series of twists consists of the tight ones. Here you can wrap the wire's free end around the leader proper in ordinary fashion, laying each turn snugly against it's predecessor. Make six to eight of these wire turns as well. Now your loop is finished. The finishing touch is to break off the spare piece or excess piece of wire and not to cut it off (or it will make a sharp excess that will catch on your gloves while wiring a big fish). Ben the left over piece of wire in an upward fashion like a right angle. Then use the piece as if you were turning a hand crank and crank the wire slowly away from you, passing as close as possible to the main wire. One slow turn and it should break right off.
Fishing boils down to playing a dirty trick on fishes. It's a matter of deception, and the whole business pivots around catering to their appetites. First we find out what a fish likes to eat, then we either give him some with a hook in it or offer him a phony that looks like some item of food. The more complete a deception is, the better, and in shark fishing there's a little gimmick which helps me when selecting a hook.
New hooks are bright and clean. That's nice, but its a drawback. Put a shiny hook into such a bait as a whiting, mackerel or blue runner and it will stand out against the fish's darker background. Even a little of its brightness exposed lends an unnatural detail to the offering, and that glint might be just enough to make a shark or other gamester spurn the bait.
The trick I like to do with my hooks is rust them. Yep, rust them before you rig them. Especially if your fishing live bait. It's contrary to the popular concept that all hooks should be clean and rusty ones discarded. That holds true in many kinds of angling, but not here. Make it a point to deliberately rust your shark hooks. Rusting not only removes any telltale shine or brightness, it also produces a mottled effect, contributing to the camouflage when a hook is in the bait. The most effortless way to rust hooks is to immerse them in a can of water and set them aside for a few days. Even faster to dunk them in a can of Clorox Bleach overnight, after scratching them up with an emery cloth. One thing must be watched. Rusting them can dull the points, so be sure to have a file handy. I think you'll catch more sharks using this method.
First let me speak about dead baits. As you know, sharks are garbage cans and will eat just about anything. But what I like to use is a nice fresh bloody bonita, jack crevalle, barracuda or sting ray. My bait of choice when I can get it, is of course bonita. I usually keep some freshly caught bait in my bait freezer as "backup" baits, just in case I don't have anything freshly caught that day. I cut the bonita or jack in half or three quarters depending on the size of the bait. If I use the head of the bait I usually "bridle" the bait, that is where I use dental floss, or rigging floss. I cut off a small piece of floss, approximately 4-8 inches in length, with a rigging needle slip the floss tru the eyelit and then stick the rigging needle between the bait heads eye-sockets and pull the needle all the way through and out the other side.
Then I bring both ends of the floss together and tie them. Then I'll loop the rigging floss around the bottom shank of my shark hook and twist the hook several times until the hook becomes tight to the top of the baits head. This ensures a nice solid hook-up almost every time, because the hook is fully exposed outside the bait, and dosen't have to be pulled out of the bait. Using this method you'll find that your hookup ratio will probably excell 90%. This bridle rigging works extremely well offshore, when slow trolling live baits for sharks and or marlin. Try it, I think you'll approve.
Live baiting I think the bonita's are defintely the best choice again. They swim great when bridled and they slow troll just as fine behind the boat. You can catch bonita's in pairs and have them rigged up quickly and back in the water before they die. Also fishing the bonita schools has its advantages as well, because the sharks ten to be right there underneath all those bonitas so you don't really have to travel anywhere. And lastly you never know when a hungry blue marlin just might come sneaking around and eat your lively bonita. As for other great live baits I like: Big bluerunners, live yellowtail snapper, jack crevelles, and tinker mackerel.
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