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!