Cast the fly…with a clear presentation in mind
Sharks pose some unique problems when presenting the fly. First, they can’t see things directly in front of them very well because their eyes are positioned on the sides of their head, well back from the nose. Second, they have multiple rows of teeth, making a secure hook set in the front part of their jaws very difficult.
According to Capt. Trimble, successful hookups are rare when a shark takes the fly head-on.
Since sharks have long noses, if the shark takes the fly while swimming straight at you, all you will see is the fly disappearing under the shark’s nose. There’s a natural tendency to strike too soon, and pull the fly away from the fish.
But if you wait too long before you strike, the shark will take the fly too deeply, making it hard to release. This also reduces the length of the wire bite tippet outside the fish’s mouth.
And in a straight-on strike, the hook will have a hard time getting a bite in their multiple rows of teeth, often popping out during the fight.
Maximize your chances for a secure hookup
Given these factors, Capt. Bowman feels that the most effective presentation is to the side and slightly ahead of a fish moving away from the boat. The side placement allows the shark to spot the fly more easily, and if the fish is moving away from the boat when it takes the fly, striking the fish will usually cause the hook to slide back into the cartilage in the corner of the mouth.
With the hook in that position, the fish can be easily released, and your wire leader will be entirely outside the shark’s mouth.
If the angler is right-handed, he will be in the port stern corner of the cockpit, facing back into the slick. This allows his back-cast to clear the boat. In an ideal world, the shark will be astern of the boat, within casting distance, heading slightly away, and passing from starboard to port.