Rigging Shark Bait

Rigging your shark bait is vital to hooking up with a shark. You can hook them through the eyes and fish just the head or you can hook them through the tail and fish them live. There are actually several different ways to rig your shark bait but I’ve only shown the method I prefer. Here’s a picture of a very nice bluefish rigged up as shark bait.

If you notice I’ve got 2 hooks on this rig of stainless steal leader. The bigger the bait the more hooks you need. This bluefish is around 18″ so 2 hooks were needed for good coverage. I feed the hooks through the mouth and out the gill. Place the first hook (closest to the main line) just below the gill. Then place subsequent hooks 1 – 2 inches from each other. If you’re using a piece of cut bait you’ll only need a single hook.

Bluefish Ready for Shark Fishing

The next step to rigging your shark bait is critical! Make sure you bring some wax covered twine or zip ties. This method is used for two reasons. The first is to keep the shark from stealing your bait. As the bait sits in the water the skin will become soft and will tear easily. When a shark picks up the bait there is a good chance he’s going to mouth it for a while before the hooks are in the sweet spot. The second reason to secure the bait in this manner is to ensure the hooks are perpendicular to the bait. Imagine for a second the shark picks up your bait and happens the bite down right on the hook. More than likely the hook will lay flat on the bait and you’ll miss the hook-up.

My method for securing the hook to the shark bait is pretty simple. Cut a 20″ piece of twine and lay it out flat. Now place the bait in the middle of the twine with the hooks facing up. Take the two ends wrapping it around the bait and through the eye of the hook. Now flip the bait over and tie a square not. If you did it right the hook should automatically be pulled perpendicular to the shark bait. You shark bait should end up looking like this.

Bluefish After Shark Bite

You may consider fishing for sharks with live bait. Its a little more tricky since you’ll need everything setup before you catch your first piece of bait. You’ll need a single hook leader and you’ll probably want to use a circle hook. The best place to hook a shark for live baiting them is probably aft of the dorsal fit on the top side. This should keep him alive for quite a while and give him an injured look which is sure to attack the big boys.

Have a tip or see something I missed? Want to ask a question? Just drop a quick comment below and I get back to you before your next big shark fishing trip.

The Rest of the Shark Fishing Guide


  1. scott armstrong says

    hey man thanks for all the great tips. shark fishing is my new love. it is so addicting. i mostly fish off of st simons and jekyll island ga. there are more shark catches in the golden isles than people give us credit for. i have caught some beuties out of those waters. i usually fish from the pier but large crowds and unruly late night drunks have deterred me from that. i have recently found an interest in surf fishing. i have a friend with a jet-ski and he runs the bait for me. i am interested in purchasing a kyak so i dont have to rely so much on other people for bait placement. any ideas on how to find a kyak at a decent price? thanks for the info and keep it coming man. your advice is welcome here anytime.

    tight lines and god bless

    • Georgia guy says

      :mrgreen: Another Georgia boy huh?!?!
      I actualy just moved to Brunswick from Texas, and have gotten into shark fishing. Its actualy kind of hard to find people that share the interest, that actualy GO shark fishing. I hear what your saying about the Jekyll Peir, the drunks ruin it. I have 3 Kayaks (Not ocean Kayaks, but they work) I run the bait out. I dont have any hardcore equipment, but Id like to fish with someone thats from the area. Interested in hookin up for fishin?

      • Try saint Andrews sound on jekyll. My buddy has been Fishin& the pier and getting his tail kicked. Ill be on st Andrews saturday morning trying to get a good one. Good luck

      • Wendell Grover says

        I know it’s been almost 10 years since y’all posted but does either one of you still shark fish? If so call me at 912-288-o743. I live in Waycross & have been fishing at St Andrews Park a couple of years. I don’t seem to fit in the crowds on both St. Simons or Jekyll Island pier. Would like to fish with common boys.

    • Marc White says

      Look on Craigslist for good buys on a kyak I am going to take my friends Sea doo with me to Florida in July Man I can’t wait …

    • yes ive fished there and me and my buddies caught small 5 foot hammer heads off of small stingrays with balloon rigs.
      good luck

  2. wow what a waste of bait man, you don’t have to use a whole fish that big. IF the fish was the size of two fists i would put it out there. I could catch 10 sharks on that one bluefish.

    • I would use the whole fish if I was live baiting. I also normally cut the tail fin of the fish at an angle that makes the fish swim erraticaly.

      However, for the dead stuff I would cut it into chunks, I think in addition to getting more bait there is more smell and blood attractant if the fish is cut.

      I have to admit this site is better then the one I am developing in my spare time but if you can check out:



    • Actually it does mean that. Bigger shark baits also prevent crabs and other small fish from destroying the bait before a shark finds it. It’s not fun to have to carry baits out constantly to save a few pieces of dead fish. Cut bait doesn’t come from the ass of a golden goose. You can spare some.

  4. Maybe in Texas you got all those crab problems, but in Florida we don’t have that much, at least on the east coast. A 1 pound piece of barracuda will catch you the biggest sharks in the ocean. Sharks know how to bite around hooks when you use big baits, I’ve witnessed this soo many times. They aren’t stupid! That’s why a lot of you guys who use that huge bait lose a lot of sharks.

  5. 🙁 😥 ❓
    I do not like poeple who kill sharks, because they are the predators in the oceans and sea, but I do not understand if why they kill them.

    please people do not kill sharks because you do not even eat them! 🙁

    • john michael kamel says

      sorry man, but i do eat those good 30in blacktips 🙂

    • its called a food chain and we’re at the top, such is life

    • Trust me, the folks that just kill them and don’t do anything else are frowned upon by the rest of us. They’re VERY good eating as long as they’re bled and ckeaned right away, and I enjoy shark.

      PETA = People Eating Tasty Animals 😉

    • yeah i am going to have to disagree. Do you know how good shark taste. Let me discribe this to you. You get 2 snapper or 4 grouper and that will cost you an arm and a leg. Plus there is the problem of not getting all the bones out and possibly stabbing yourself. Nah I am good. Sharks dont have bones and are great for kids. If you catch a 150lb shark you can eat atleast 75lbs of meat. Hmm we are in a recession I like 75lbs of meat better than 20lbs. Plus if this offends you then contact your local farmers and tell them to quit killing chickens, cows and then go extreme and tell them to quit harvesting corn…..

    • Next time I catch a 500 lb bull shark i’ll let you take it back in to the water a revive it and when it turns around and takes your leg off i’m sure your gonna be pretty pissed at your self for trying to save it! :mrgreen:

    • people do eat them and they say they are really good to eat that what im aobut to go do right now lol

    • The bombers, black tips, and Sharp noses are great. Ive even had hammer head. But he swallowed the hook. There was no saving him. Didn’t wanna waste it

  6. Here’s some videos I make how how to make shark Leaders:

    The video with me making a shark rig is showing how I make my casting rigs.

    How to Make Shark Leaders Video:


    Choosing Leader Materials:


    Hope this helps some of you! 😉

  7. in reply to sine.
    i am a nz surfcarster and regularly catch sharks. I believe that sharks are the predators of the ocean and also know for a fact that they are a delicious species. They should not be wasted, so for those that do catch a shark think twice before you waste it.

  8. Shark fishing is addictive and a great sport. I am in the Keys and can’t get enough. Plus they are good eatin!

  9. Absolutely agrred
    Love those shark 🙂 😛

  10. 2-3′ sharks are great for ceviche and tacos. 3-5 make good steaks and fish&chips. Big sharks are breeding age and should be released so that they can make more of those delicious eating sized sharks.

    • i agree take a picture then put the big ones back sure you may lose 75lbs. of meat but in the long run youll make a healthy population and youll get more meat and fun from it if you put it back

  11. Dan Riley says

    Great website. I’ve learned a lot from reading this article. I’ll be on the atlantic coast of Florida in two weeks and I’ve just about go all my stuff together. What do you think of using an inflatable row boat instead of a kayak? Just for the sake of saving $$$$$. Walmart has a decent sized one for $30. I think I’ll cover the floor of it with 1/2″ plywood for added stability. What do you think about this idea?

    • I wouldn’t recomend it, but I guess that would depend on what types of waves you might have to deal with. Here in NSB we have a pretty consistant break and with an inflatable kayak, you might not have the rigidity and mass to push through them when you paddle out. I’d be curious to see how it works out though, good luck!

    • Or your hook catches the deflatable boat and pops it while your out 3 hundred yards and you smell like the fish you just cut up for bait

  12. i have done some shark fishing , but i have to depend on other people to take my bait out , was wondering if anyone could tell me in detail how the ballon works , on getting your bait out from shore , thanks and love the site.

  13. Bryan Lester says

    Is there anyone out there that fishes the east coast, preferably Va Beach or NC for sharks? Normally when I rig my bait all depending on the situation, I usually use a single 10/0-14/0 hook if I use a spanish mackeral I chunk in half and hook it thru the nose and the bottom lip but that is mainly for 3-6′ sharks. When we are fishing a tournament we normally use a double hook liter with 14/0 hooks, 1 hook thru the mouth of a tuna head and the trailer hook wired to the top so either way you look at it, he’s gonna get one of them. But if you have any questions you can email me at kingfisher29@verizon.net. Can’t wait for the season to start. Have fun fish hard and may the sharks be with you.

    • Tried to email, but no longer valid addy…

      Hey Brian,
      I saw your post about shark fishing and thought I’d drop you a line. No pun intended…
      I used to fish a bunch as a kid with no guidance other than a bunch of other kids. 22 years later (as in last week) I was at Atlantic Beach with a good bit of borrowed tackle, and had a freaking blast surf fishing. I caught a bunch of little stuff, and hooked something big. I looked over at a 10′ pole being bent in half, I got to it right after the sand spike pulled over, and right before my borrowed gear disappeared in the water! hahaha I picked up the rod and drag was flying out! In my adrenaline rush I remembered reading for bigger fish make sure the hook is set, well I pulled back with everything I had and snapped the line! Oh well, I got a lot to learn! But that got me hooked! I am going to try to make it to the OBX when the blues are running this fall.
      But for now a buddy just gave me his weekend at N.Myrtle Beach, and I’m thinking of fishing for shark. I’d like to catch something around 4′. I think that will give me all the fight I need, and with maybe a couple leaders I can manage that size on the tackle I have.
      I don’t even know what to ask, so any info you can give will help tremendously. I am also reading up on release techniques.
      Thanks much,

  14. Arthur Alintuck says

    I use a 6’3″ Penn trolling rod with AFTCO Rollers and a “gimbeled butt (I have a leather gimble receiving belt.) I do not have a chest harness. My Penn Reel now hold 300 yards of 300# test Power Pro. Where can I purchase steel leaders and of what strength/length? I plan to use GAMAKATSU 10/0 circle hooks.Do you know of any Party/Head Boats in this area for Sharks? Can you suggest any
    Captains/boats in the above areas? Do you know of any Shark Fishermen in the Metro-West area of Boston?
    My wish for all is, ” TIGHT LINES AND SCREAMING REELS” Arthur H. Alintuck

  15. Uh………..Mako is good eating.

    Most other sharks are just ok to poor. Sharks actually urinate through their body and skin and think if a Cow, Lamb or Hog urinated through their skin. Would you order Urine Marinade Lamb or HOG PEE BACON???

    No……..me either but they are fun to catch and release……..Mako Sharks are excellent eating one of the few that don’t urinate that way.

    Now TUNA, Mahi, Wahoo, and rockfish……..ocassional trigger or black sea bass and you are talking about some mmmmmmm good seafood.

    • hey bubba sharks urinate threw their skin is complete bull shit, I have worked with sharks from when I was a kid to now , they have full urinary tracks systems, and pee just like everything else or there would be no need for kidneys to clean urine of toxins, ask any marine biologist, if you still have trouble with this mote marine in sarasota has more than qualified personnel to answer just shoot them an e-mail. that is a common myth among captains and amazes me that people who fish do not want to learn about the biology of the fish they are targeting.I have been told this time and time again from charters along the east coast to all along the gulf

  16. omg thats a huge hook omfg 😯

  17. I just moved to the Tampa Bay area. I had great luck shark fishing in the St. Simon area. I haven’t had any luck in the Tampa area yet but am still looking for the “hot” spot. I do have a 20 foot boat so am able to get out into the water. Does anyone have any suggestions on locations? Thanks in advance for the help.


  18. Hello, i live in clearwater forida. I know a great spot madera beach, allot of sharks. YANNICK if you have any questions email me at ruslan33760@yahoo.com

  19. ive hook in sand shark in summer but now ive gite a 13 foot pole im ready to get a big shark very big shark people say were i go if i hook a hole fish on ill get bull shark 14 and 16 feet long

  20. I was wondering if someone could help explain the best way to make a rig for shark surf fishing. Where do you connect the pyramid sinker? Does it go inline with your fishing line and then the wieght off to the side on a seperate line, or does the wieght go above the bait? Please help me or let me know of a good website. I only get to go shark fishing once a year and I want to have the best chances possible. Thanks very much!

    • SC Surf Fishin' says

      I use what is called a fishfinder rig the weight is attached to a slider on the main line (50lb braid). I use 2 beads about 2-3 feet apart to keep the slider from sliding too far up or down the line. this also gives the fish some play and it won’t immediately feel the weight. This is my all-around rig I use it for just about everything except for whiting and pompano, for which I use small top bottom mono rigs.

      I also use 45-60lb 18″-24″ braided steel leader and a 4/0 to 8/0 circle hook for chunk bait, and a 2 hook stinger rig for baiting with small live bluefish , pin fish or whiting. I made my leaders longer this year, as I lost a shark last year that bit off above the 12″ steel I had rigged up. If I get a bite off above 18-24″ steel leader I’m not sure I want to bring that bad boy to the beach!

      I’m fishing from the surf, and this rig has done fine on sharks to 30-48″. By-catches have been blues to 18″, a 36″ red drum, and a 38″ black drum (all on single hook chunk mullet rig)

      • I live in Ladson SC. and do some surf fishing on the weekends. I’m trying to do an all nighter and see what I can catch. I’d like to go try Sullivan’s Island around the 12 station or the beach. You know anything about that area.

  21. larenzo williams says

    Hello people. I have learned so much just from reading everything. Having said that I will be shark fishing in NSB Fl and dont really know which rig is better and easiest to handle. Ive caught very small shark in Tybee Island but im still a newby. So any and all info will be greatly appreciated. And shark is a very good fish if you know how to cook it. The recipe i use makes you want to smack somebody elses momma. 😀

  22. I fish the St. Augustine and Flagler Piers in Florida. 3 times now have had live bait on and lost the catch with out knowing it. My rig I have a cook at the upper lip, one on the tail and 2 trebles: one at the Dorelle fin and one on the belly. My bait swims just fine. Last night I had a light on it. the light disappeared down the line to the anchor. I thought it was just my bait swimming deeper. An hour later I pulled it up and all I had was a tail and head. the 2 trebles were bent and racked clean in the middle. What besides shark do a side attack on bait? And do I need to go to a circle hook on the sides instead of trebles?
    Thanks, I like your site!!!!!
    Hooked on pier fishing!!!!!

  23. going to be in Fla month of Feb,
    have been shark fishing from the beach the power plant between Ft. Pierce and Jensen Beach
    last year fished every day very few sharks.
    any suggestions of where else to go .. more south?
    am interested in teaming up with you if interested.

    Tom – (814)781-7403
    St. Marys, Pa.

    • hey thomas I just got back from stuart fl and did some shark fishing with much success though I have not been in feb I got down there in the very first of march, bulls hammer heads and tons of spinners were all off the beaches in that area, we caught mostly spinners in the range of 5-7 feet a couple of bulls about the same, we caught blue fish and hooked them between the dorsal fin and the tail with a balloon about 4 feet back averaged about 12-14 sharks a day they were following the blue fish if you go south to the st lucie inlet there is a reef that extends about a mile from the start of the inlet straight south about 200-300 yards off the beach they were stacked up in there pretty good with couple of lemons around 9 feet in mid april threw mid may lots of large bull sharks will be in the indian river that connects to the st lucie inlet within a couple miles of the inlet to the power plant the bulls with be almost all female they are entering the river to give birth and are very aggressive, so please practice catch and release I hope this is of some use in the future

  24. Andrew Jobson says

    If i use an 18 inch Bluefish for shark bait what kind of and how heavy should the weight be?

    • A twenty ounce will hold fine if bail is bigger than that start adding more. I used one twenty ounce ok a 9 pound fish and it holds fine

  25. Annually surf fish in various parts of Florida(WPB in July/11). My kids enjoy surf fishing(an addiction for me) and are fascinated by sharks. Can you suggest a few affordable surf reels or ones to avoid ? Excellent site, tons of info with lots of people who know their stuff.

  26. Any body know a good way to hook whole mullet. I fish in a river in macintosh county and have hooked some monsters . But they taking the bait to easy. I go through there mouth any gills and hook in through the tail. But I am getting stripped. Any solutions

  27. Down in Stuart, FL, Live bait and dead bait both work well for catching sharks. To me, nothing like live bait. Hook a blue runner, lady fish or jack in the face above the nose with a nice size Gamakatzu and then add your stinger rig with smaller Gamakatzu to the top area behind the dorsal. You’ll never lose a fish this way. Make sure your stinger is also wire and that it is flexed(not tight) so the fish can move and swim with minimal restriction, I use # 7 – #10 American depending the day. Cable is good for the monster catch off the beach (obviously with different reel & bait). Of-course you have to catch the bait for livebaiting, so take along your little rod with little hook and sinker to catch that runner or jack. For sharks, best line is powerpro as it’s lightweight and allows live bait to swim longer. Also can get a lot of line on a smaller reel. I use the big Shimano Baitrunner with 50lb Powerpro and catch 200 plus pounders all day long. Balloons are great with west wind, otherwise runners will run out themselves if you keep the right amount of tension on the line after the release. Otherwise just paddle the bait out there on a longboard or elcheapo paddleboard. Live bait is also good because you will observe the rod tip continuously moving as the bait swim and tugs. When the bait is being stalked or hunted by a shark, the tip starts to move more and you will see more bounce in the top 12 inches of the rod. You then know the bait’s running from something and it’s almost time to put that beer down. If you keep it, eat it, otherwise release it!

Speak Your Mind