Opinions — Best rods, reels and rigging for catching the larger sharks and rays from piers?

Ken Jones

Administrator
Staff member
#1
Be interesting to see if there is any sort of agreement. Of course, price dictates many purchases and with the rods/reels changing every year model numbers can quickly become dated.
 

EgoNonBaptizo

Well-known member
#3
I haven't done a huge amount of fishing for sharks and rays, but my preferred setup for fish like bat rays, soupfin, and what I would presume work for thresher and smaller sevengill is a 7'6" G-Loomis pelagic series paired with an Avet MXJ6/4 spooled with 150 yards of 50# braid backing and filled up the rest of the way with a good, high quality mono in the 30#-40# range. A strong lever drag is definitely a huge plus when fishing for these fish, and the two speed allows me to reel quickly when the fish is running directly at me. Not cheap, but I'd rather be able to land fish consistently than skimp out and lose fish on cheaper gear. Obviously having higher quality gear doesn't guarantee fish, but definitely makes it more enjoyable. For leopards and shovelnose I usually go lighter with a 15-20 lb class baitcaster or conventional. I've easily managed 5ft+ leos on bass rods. Rigging depends on the target species. For shovelnose, leos, and rays I like to use a fishfinder rig with a pyramid sinker and a wire leader. For soupfin I use a simplified trolley rig, where after casting out a weight, I clip a wire leader with bait to that line and let it slide.
 
#4
^^^^^ Good stuff. That’s basically what I see the serious guys using. I couldn’t remember the names of some of the rigs. I haven’t intentionally fish for them in a while. I’d rather return em, than clean em. After a days fishing, me and some friends would start rigging for evening light sharay fishing. These were #30 setups with similar rigging as above. I’d use an old school rod n reel, mainly an old glass 6’ rewrapped Sabre and an upgraded Jigmaster 500 with #30 Ande mono. Bragging rights on the biggest fish, which were mostly shovelnoses.
 

Red Fish

Well-known member
#6
Be interesting to see if there is any sort of agreement. Of course, price dictates many purchases and with the rods/reels changing every year model numbers can quickly become dated.
Well Ken, I think a fairer question would be by type of shark and where you are fishing. E.G., if it was an area of deep, fast moving water, you may need a pound of lead or more.

I have landed quite a few adult leopards and batrays 36” or bigger across on 12# monofilament, but that was not the target or chosen gear for those species.

Ok, e.g. of a rig used at Gaviota for thresher shark is what I saw most prevalent there: 10-13 foot rods with 4/0 size Penn Senator reels. At the time, 30 and 40# monofilament was the thing for main line.

I have had a couple 6500 Abu’s burn out the anti-reverse where the reels were replaced from individual big bat ray battles. And I wasn’t targeting them with that gear; inadvertent catches. The reels both times landed the fish, but were damaged using just 15# mono Trilene.

I could just tell you the standard line ratings and you pick the gear that you know how to operate and can afford.

I could simply say an Ugly Stik Tiger casting rod in any range of 10-50 depending on how much sensitivity you want. You could still pair it with a Jigmaster 500 as it is still manufactured. Or, you could get a newer style reel like the smaller Avet SX or MX with an MC (mag control) to assist you with long pier casts. What the guys had at Elephant Rock Pier when we went would represent newer choices. They had Ugly Stik classic casting rods as well as a couple were using Phenix Abyss. They were all using black/gold graphite Penn Squalls in about 20 size, the star drag models. Some are still using the new Daiwa Sealines in 15, 20, 30, 40, 50 sizes. Shimano users, the Torium, Tekota (levelwind), and the Charter Special (levelwind, leverdrag) to name a few.

For pier use, honestly, I feel the graphite frames are far more forgiving on the concrete from scratches. That being said, I have a 525 GS (that’s 15 size with HT-100 drag) that I have replaced the anti reverse bearing once because of a couple worn teeth that would allow it to turn backwards sometimes. The same would happen to 975 after heavy use. Easy change out and the reel has been working better than new and is over 10 years old. Also, I have a 555 GS that is over 10 and works better than new. Alan Tani (Google his name if you are unfamiliar ) adjusted both of these reels when I first got them as the drags were sticky right out of the box.

If you like spinners, as many pier anglers do, something with a solid drag system if you don’t want to fry the drag knob, bearings, and main shaft on big rays or sharks. Fishermen favor Penn Spinfishers/Battles, Shimano Baitrunner/Spheros for throwing heavy weight and bait for big sharks (cow, thresher, soupfin) , rays, sturgeon. Throw in the Daiwa BG for good measure. Again, a spinning version of BWS (big water series) Ugly Stik. There are other (lower end of their product line) Daiwa, Shimano, St. Croix, Lamiglas rods for casting and spinning depending on how far you need to cast or the type of set up you are using anywhere from 6.6-15’.



Just some basic suggestions and opinion. The gear used can vary widely to catch the same fish and can be as unique as the angler and their style of fishing. I do see a big shift in anglers using smaller gear, braided main lines, and bigger drags. Generally for the "big dogs" of pier fishing, 20-40# monofilament or 40-100# braided.

Riggings: usually Carolina (sliding sinker) rig. Some float rigs for thresher and some people utilize a trolley rig where they simply toss out a weight and slide down a wire leader, hook, and baitfish. The main ingredient I believe is to have a leader line strong enough to not get rubbed or bitten off by the shark rolling up or biting through. A leader with extra abrasion can save you from a dive under the pier and being broken off from the line rubbing on the pier pilings. For fishing keeper-sized leopard sharks, you could use 40 or 50# mono leader and be okay without being bitten off (I have landed keepers on 25# leader and even a just keeper on 6# mono main/20# leader on #4 circle). The point is, use something adequate if you are actually targeting and want to land it. For bigger sharks targeted: 90# coated plastic coated wire to 135, 170, or even 250 for that lucky 10' cow. If you hook in the corner of the mouth with a circle, you could get lucky on heavy mono. I was thinking of making leaders out of 200# mono utilizing circles. Some use weed-wacker line for rubbing line and some cases, leader. If you think this is "too much information, " then you definitely don't want to look at any Florida or North Carolina shark fishing sites, as they take their shark fishing gear main and terminal very seriously. If you want to just do some simple shark fishing, you could use a simple packaged sturgeon leader (well the old ones with tandem kahle) with 7/0's and 60-90# wire will get you hooked up but I have witnessed first hand 7 gills of 5 and 7' crushed those hooks in their mouths (right in the middle) and shred that thin wire where only a few strands are holding together. There is no one formula but: some guys just use a wire leader of 90# coated (or equivalent # in single strand) and a circle hook like Eagle Claw Sea Circle, Gamakatsu circle, or Owner circle of 5/0 to 10/0 for SF Bay fishing. The length varies but three to six feet and perhaps the same amount of rubbing line of thick mono of 50-100 or weedwacker line of similar diameter if you are concerned about the fish rolling (which is a snap off if you get slack line).

One last thing I can say about the lines and fishing San Francisco Bay and Catalina. I have broken them all under pressure including 100# braid. True, I am old-school and set hook on shark like a blackbass fisherman or those guys you see on the mako tournaments. It's all leverage. If you give "the full metal-jacket" on braid hook-sets, it's going to break with no stretch. You have to learn to NOT put too much pressure on your swing and initial hook-set. I used to break 50# Power Pro on the hook-set many times when I first started using braid as a swing with a rod of 10' or so of a heavy rod/reel can put a lot of force on the line with no stretch (especially if there is heavy weight, bait, and a fish of size on the other end)! On a 7' rod, the load up and swing is a lot more forgiving! That being said, the way I fish (or fished), 40# braid is like how I fished 20 mono and, for instance, 100# braid would be how I would fish 50# mono.
 
Last edited:

Ken Jones

Administrator
Staff member
#7
Red, what were those rods and reels Travis and Juan were using at Elephanrt Rock? They were serious sharkers and looked like they could handle a big "old mama," freight train, mud marlin. I thought I wrote down the gear but I can't find it.
 

Red Fish

Well-known member
#8
Red, what were those rods and reels Travis and Juan were using at Elephanrt Rock? They were serious sharkers and looked like they could handle a big "old mama," freight train, mud marlin. I thought I wrote down the gear but I can't find it.
What the guys had at Elephant Rock Pier when we went would represent newer choices. They had Ugly Stik classic casting rods as well as a couple were using Phenix Abyss. They were all using black/gold graphite Penn Squalls in about 20 size, the star drag models. *NOTE: They were using 65# braided line, main line.
 
Last edited:
#10
Well Ken, I think a fairer question would be by type of shark and where you are fishing. E.G., if it was an area of deep, fast moving water, you may need a pound of lead or more.

I have landed quite a few adult leopards and batrays 36” or bigger across on 12# monofilament, but that was not the target or chosen gear for those species.

Ok, e.g. of a rig used at Gaviota for thresher shark is what I saw most prevalent there: 10-13 foot rods with 4/0 size Penn Senator reels. At the time, 30 and 40# monofilament was the thing for main line.

I have had a couple 6500 Abu’s burn out the anti-reverse where the reels were replaced from individual big bat ray battles. And I wasn’t targeting them with that gear; inadvertent catches. The reels both times landed the fish, but were damaged using just 15# mono Trilene.

I could just tell you the standard line ratings and you pick the gear that you know how to operate and can afford.

I could simply say an Ugly Stik Tiger casting rod in any range of 10-50 depending on how much sensitivity you want. You could still pair it with a Jigmaster 500 as it is still manufactured. Or, you could get a newer style reel like the smaller Avet SX or MX with an MC (mag control) to assist you with long pier casts. What the guys had at Elephant Rock Pier when we went would represent newer choices. They had Ugly Stik classic casting rods as well as a couple were using Phenix Abyss. They were all using black/gold graphite Penn Squalls in about 20 size, the star drag models. Some are still using the new Daiwa Sealines in 15, 20, 30, 40, 50 sizes. Shimano users, the Torium, Tekota (levelwind), and the Charter Special (levelwind, leverdrag) to name a few.

For pier use, honestly, I feel the graphite frames are far more forgiving on the concrete from scratches. That being said, I have a 525 GS (that’s 15 size with HT-100 drag) that I have replaced the anti reverse bearing once because of a couple worn teeth that would allow it to turn backwards sometimes. The same would happen to 975 after heavy use. Easy change out and the reel has been working better than new and is over 10 years old. Also, I have a 555 GS that is over 10 and works better than new. Alan Tani (Google his name if you are unfamiliar ) adjusted both of these reels when I first got them as the drags were sticky right out of the box.

If you like spinners, as many pier anglers do, something with a solid drag system if you don’t want to fry the drag knob, bearings, and main shaft on big rays or sharks. Fishermen favor Penn Spinfishers/Battles, Shimano Baitrunner/Spheros for throwing heavy weight and bait for big sharks (cow, thresher, soupfin) , rays, sturgeon. Throw in the Daiwa BG for good measure. Again, a spinning version of BWS (big water series) Ugly Stik. There are other (lower end of their product line) Daiwa, Shimano, St. Croix, Lamiglas rods for casting and spinning depending on how far you need to cast or the type of set up you are using anywhere from 6.6-15’.



Just some basic suggestions and opinion. The gear used can vary widely to catch the same fish and can be as unique as the angler and their style of fishing. I do see a big shift in anglers using smaller gear, braided main lines, and bigger drags. Generally for the "big dogs" of pier fishing, 20-40# monofilament or 40-100# braided.

Riggings: usually Carolina (sliding sinker) rig. Some float rigs for thresher and some people utilize a trolley rig where they simply toss out a weight and slide down a wire leader, hook, and baitfish. The main ingredient I believe is to have a leader line strong enough to not get rubbed or bitten off by the shark rolling up or biting through. A leader with extra abrasion can save you from a dive under the pier and being broken off from the line rubbing on the pier pilings. For fishing keeper-sized leopard sharks, you could use 40 or 50# mono leader and be okay without being bitten off (I have landed keepers on 25# leader and even a just keeper on 6# mono main/20# leader on #4 circle). The point is, use something adequate if you are actually targeting and want to land it. For bigger sharks targeted: 90# coated plastic coated wire to 135, 170, or even 250 for that lucky 10' cow. If you hook in the corner of the mouth with a circle, you could get lucky on heavy mono. I was thinking of making leaders out of 200# mono utilizing circles. Some use weed-wacker line for rubbing line and some cases, leader. If you think this is "too much information, " then you definitely don't want to look at any Florida or North Carolina shark fishing sites, as they take their shark fishing gear main and terminal very seriously. If you want to just do some simple shark fishing, you could use a simple packaged sturgeon leader (well the old ones with tandem kahle) with 7/0's and 60-90# wire will get you hooked up but I have witnessed first hand 7 gills of 5 and 7' crushed those hooks in their mouths (right in the middle) and shred that thin wire where only a few strands are holding together. There is no one formula but: some guys just use a wire leader of 90# coated (or equivalent # in single strand) and a circle hook like Eagle Claw Sea Circle, Gamakatsu circle, or Owner circle of 5/0 to 10/0 for SF Bay fishing. The length varies but three to six feet and perhaps the same amount of rubbing line of thick mono of 50-100 or weedwacker line of similar diameter if you are concerned about the fish rolling (which is a snap off if you get slack line).

One last thing I can say about the lines and fishing San Francisco Bay and Catalina. I have broken them all under pressure including 100# braid. True, I am old-school and set hook on shark like a blackbass fisherman or those guys you see on the mako tournaments. It's all leverage. If you give "the full metal-jacket" on braid hook-sets, it's going to break with no stretch. You have to learn to NOT put too much pressure on your swing and initial hook-set. I used to break 50# Power Pro on the hook-set many times when I first started using braid as a swing with a rod of 10' or so of a heavy rod/reel can put a lot of force on the line with no stretch (especially if there is heavy weight, bait, and a fish of size on the other end)! On a 7' rod, the load up and swing is a lot more forgiving! That being said, the way I fish (or fished), 40# braid is like how I fished 20 mono and, for instance, 100# braid would be how I would fish 50# mono.
Great informative post Red.

mjonesjr