Although you might not want to admit it, anytime you step into warm saltwater, a thought goes through your head. A thought that is buried deep, stemming from childhood fears. “Are there any sharks around?” Admit it, we won’t tell. Even the Dalai Lama’s biggest fear is getting eaten by sharks (true fact, Google it). Since humans have been recording weird little statistics, there have been 5,265 recorded shark attacks. More than 2,500 have resulted in serious injury and 1,340 more have ended worse. My point is, there’s no doubt who’s on top of the food chain in the ocean. Yet, most fly fisherman continue to disrespect this great fish.
Where has the testosterone gone, people? The adrenaline rush of going toe-to-toe with what most people fear? The primitive instinct of hunting down what hunts you? Make no mistake, these fish are at the top of the food chain in the ocean for a reason. First off, let’s talk about the couple hundred million years of evolution. They have changed very little other than size. What does this mean? It means God got it right the first time. Sharks are a guide’s best friend when the day on the water turns tough or the weather is less than perfect for tarpon, bonefish or permit. Landing a shark is way more fun than sitting in the motel.
The power of these fish is rarely matched by anything else that swims, so when you hook one, get ready for a battle. Most times an 11- and 12-weight rod is needed to land these fish, and even with the big sticks, you’re looking at half-hour battles, sometimes much longer depending on the size and species. Some species will even take to the air. Makos and spinner sharks are best known for their acrobatic displays. The best part of it all is that you can find most species in gin clear, shallow waters where you’d find bonefish. So, yes, just like bonefish, permit and tarpon, you can sight fish for them. Just like the big three, you have to make very accurate casts just to get them to even sniff the fly and in a lot of cases, you must cast even more accurately because they are lacking in eyesight. What they lack in vision, they more than make up for with their sense of smell. The sensors in their nose can actually pick up electrical pulses in the hearts of other fish.
Fly fisherman spend countless hours and millions of dollars every year on travel, rods, reels, flies and other gear to curb our passion for catching hundreds of different species of fish worldwide. A fraction of afraction of that is spent on actually targeting sharks. So the question remains: Why don’t people find sharks as desirable to catch as other fish? They eat what we consider superior game fish for breakfast. Literally