Jersey Devil EZ Shark Rig
This simple, effective DIY shark rig is sure to up your chances of hooking & landing Jaws .
Shark…just the word conjures up thoughts that vary from fear to wonder. Saltwater fishermen consider many sharks gamefish. The primary target species on both the East and West Coasts are mako and thresher, but other species present a formidable challenge on rod and reel including bull, lemon, black tip, spinner and hammerhead.
A number of shark species are true big game fish capable of growing to weights in excess of a quarter ton and beyond, but it’s the simple fact that they can be pursued relatively close to shore that draws so many anglers to try their hand at catching them. Investments in big boats with huge fuel bills are minimized and in some areas large sharks can even be caught from the beach. The tackle needed to challenge them is less of an investment than is required for chasing other large pelagic species like marlin and tuna.
Whatever species of shark you plan on pursuing the importance of properly designed and constructed terminal tackle is undeniable. When you’re dealing with fish that sport a mouth full of razor sharp teeth there’s only one company to turn to for products that are up to the challenge--AFW/Hi-Seas. They have been manufacturing the finest in wire, cable and rigging components for toothy critters for over five decades and anglers around the world rely on them when fishing for sharks.
We recently spent time with Captain Brian Rice of Jersey Devil Charters based out of Fairhaven, New Jersey to check out a rig he has been using for sharks. It is easy to construct and versatile enough to use with live, whole dead or strip baits, which means one rig can pretty much cover all the bases.
One of the features we took an immediate liking to is Brian’s use of circle hooks. This type of hook does far less harm to sharks that will be released and in reality that encompasses the vast majority of the sharks that get hooked. Where Captain Rice fishes mako and thresher sharks are the target species, but blue sharks are more abundant and frequently encountered. Since blues are almost never kept for consumption and are not recognized in tournaments they are all released. Federal regulations has size restrictions on mako so small ones must be released and they also limit the landing of mako, thresher and blue sharks to one per boat per day regardless if species.
The use of circle hooks provides a boost to shark conservation because they almost always hook a fish in the corner of the mouth. It makes removal at boat side with a specialized tool like an ARC Dehooker easier and if you have to leave the hook in place and cut the leader it will not impede the shark’s ability to feed as it rusts out.
“We’ve been using circle hooks exclusively for sharks aboard the Jersey Devil for several years,” said Rice, “and we’ve found we can remove the majority of the hooks from fish we’re releasing and that’s great. But the big bonus is we rarely fail to hook one that takes the bait. That is not the case with J hooks!”
The rig Brian demonstrated for this tutorial is sized for mako, thresher and blue sharks using 30 to 80-lb. class tackle, but the beauty of the system is it can be scaled down by reducing the hook, swivel, wire and mono leader sizes to make it applicable for use with lighter tackle and smaller species of sharks. It is quite easy to assemble so let’s get started. After you read the basics you can follow along as Brian walks you through the steps on video. Here’s what you are going to need.
20/0 circle hooks
#14 AFW Tooth Proof Stainless Steel Wire (camo finish)
1/0 Mighty-Mini Crane Swivels
400-lb. Grand Slam or Quattro Leader
Size C - 2.3 mm Grand Slam Aluminum Sleeves
AFW Haywire Twist Tool
Crimping Tool for Aluminum Sleeves
Cut a length of AFW #14 wire about 6 feet long and attach the circle hook to one end using a Haywire Twist. The AFW Haywire Twist Tool makes forming perfect wire connections simple.
If you plan on using a Hi-Seas Luminous Rattle (a great sound attractor for sharks), a colorful plastic skirt or both, slide them on the wire and push them down to the hook now. Then attach the opposite end of the wire to the Crane Swivel with another Haywire Twist.
Cut a 10 to 12-foot length of Hi-Seas Grand Slam or Quattro leader material and slide two appropriately sized Grand Slam aluminum sleeves onto the tag end. Slip one end of the leader through the open eye of the Crane Swivel pulling about 15” to work with. Slide first sleeve down the line to the swivel creating a tight loop and crimp it in place with a crimping tool.
Twist the 15” tag end of the leader around the running line to create a stiff section of double line, then slide the end through the second sleeve and crimp it in place. The twisted double line is added insurance against chafing in an area where a shark’s tail can smack the line.
You’re basically done with the rig (see, I told you it was simple) with the exception of determining how you want to connect it to the line on your rod and reel. There are two methods. The easiest is to use another sleeve to create a loop on the end of the leader, which will be attached to the running line with a heavy-duty snap swivel. We strongly suggest you use chafing gear like the Spring Wire Loop Protectors or Stainless Steel Thimbles offered by AFW/Hi-Seas to protect the loop from chafing against the snap swivel during use.
The other option for finishing the rig is to use a “wind on” style leader connection. This is a more time consuming process that involves using hollow core braided Dacron line to create a soft loop on the end of the rig.
Whichever way you finish the Jersey Devil E-Z Shark Rig we’re sure it will quickly become your favorite for shark fishing.