Monday, November 20, 2006

My Favorite Shark Fly

When fly fishing for the Great White, particularly this time of year, I have the most success using a fly I developed called the Cape Fear. The name, of course, is a play on “Cape Fur,” the variety of seal it imitates. This fly is not for the beginner, it takes some practice to get it right on the bench, and then it needs to be fished just so or you’ll just tire yourself out throwing it with no results. So, let’s get started…

For the hook I like to use a 26” saltwater stainless steel fishing gaff. Now, I’ve seen some people use lead eyes on their seal flies, but I find that you get a more natural action without lead in the front once the fly gets uniformly waterlogged. Personal preference. Anyway, tie about three pounds of marabou to the hook, length about the same as the hook shank. Tie in and wrap a chenille body, medium brown, as in a woolly worm. Except much, much, thicker. I like to tie in foam odor eaters for flippers, size 10-11. Wrap ribbing wire forward, securing it to the hook. Tie off the wire, trim, form a head. Whip finish, cement the head, and you’re ready to go.

When fly fishing for Great Whites with a Cape Fear, the presentation and retrieval are critical. When casting, the fly should make the right amount of “splash.” Not too much, but enough to get the attention of nearby feeders. Give it time to sink just below the surface, retrieve the fly with short, smooth strips, pausing every three to five strips. This will give the fly a realistic seal swimming motion. Count to three during the pauses, and when you start that next strip, get ready. When these sharks hit your fly, they hit hard, and I can tell you, a 16-foot maneater will have you into your backing in no time, no matter how high your drag is set. And if they take it off the surface, as this picture shows, a pair of ExOfficio Quick Dry shorts might come in handy. There’s no shame if you pee a little when you get one of these bad boys on the line.

So you've got him hooked and you think you’ve got it made? Think again. Landing him is the tricky part. If you can hold on through the first run, you’re nearly five percent there. Stay hydrated, get comfortable, apply moderate pressure, keep the rod tip high, and when he gets tired enough to bring alongside the boat, use extreme caution. And trust me, that fly is ruined, so don't hesitate to cut the line (after a quick photo of course).

Forgive the “how-to” article, it’s not what I do mostly or best. But I just didn’t see a lot of advice on how to do this sort of fishing, and I felt like I had some experience in this area and wanted to share. So, tight lines and happy sharking!

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