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Hey guys, after my past week of surf sharking- I have become very frustrated with my hookup ratio.

During my last night of sharking this week- I had 10 SOLID runs without a single hookup (that doesnt include dropped baits- the SOLID runs are the ones where i pick up the rod- let them run for a little bit, feel the fish on- and slam the hook as hard as I can several times (when using jhooks) or reel tight and lean hard into them (circle hooks)

I only caught one nice sharpnose, but the hooked up with none of the solid runs.

After missing 12 runs the previous night with circle hooks, I switched to J-hooks hoping that my luck would improve- but it didn't.

I do notice that when I examine my rig afterward- there is significant fraying 7-10 inches up the cable leader. I guess the fish has the rig so far back in his throat that the hook has nothing to bury into- and I am simply yanking the leader through the shark's teeth and then forcing the float and hook out of the shark's mouth??? Also, could the float I am using also be interfering with the hook-penetration?

Any suggestions- How do you set the hook to catch them?

I have a feeling that the sand tigers take the bait differently than the sandbars, the only time I have hooked up with a ST- the hook has been way back in the throat.

Ben

PS: Due to my poor hookup %- I think I might have to come back for a weekend to "test" any of the suggestions so I can conquer the art of the hookup

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What size circle are you using? It's possible that the gap is too narrow for a ST to get through. The smallest circle I would use for targeting charks is a 16/0. I rig 'em all with 20/0 now.

Could be that the critter is running with just the bait in it's teeth and not getting the hook in it's mouth. How big is the bait?

Obviously whatever you have done in the past has worked for you, did you do something different this time?

Oh yeah Ben,

Thanks for leaving some for the rest of us to catch! :D

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Well last year was the same story- I am only hooking up with about 7% of the sharks that pick up my bait- THAT SUCKS!

I was using a 16/0 Opened Circle and reeling down to put pressure on them after letting them take it. Then after feeling the fish's first run- I give it a little pop to bury the barb. They usually drop it about 10 or 15 seconds into the fight. It sucks feeling such a massive fish (MUCH bigger than the ones I actually brought to shore) and then having it pop off.

When I have the J-Hooks I am using 12/0 (plenty of gap) and SLAMMING the hook, but sure enough it pops out just like the circles. the last night I even had a guy who is a mate on the head boat out of IRI, and he couldn't figure out what was going on.

As for bait size- I use a good size chunk of tuna. I do not think they are running with the bait in the teeth though- because most times when it pops off- the bait isnt even chewed up- they just engulf it and have the bait all the way back- the leader about 7-10 inches up from the hook is what the teeth are messing with.

ben

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Hmmmmm....

I wonder if they are simply snagging the line and not hitting the hook. I've had many like that, especially at night when there are lots of them on the prowl.

Maybe wait a bit longer before you pop the rod.

If it's a circle and you wait, shouldn't be a problem.

If you got 'em you got 'em.

Not a sermon, just an idea...

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Ben, you really need to watch the size of the bait in relation to the size hook you are using. The meat on the way out of the mouth has a huge effect on how you are going to hook up. If you want to throw large meat you need 16/0 and bigger I would stick with circles and hook it like you would a piece of squid, just through maybe the top inch or so, then the only thing leading out of the mouth is a hook. You almost want more hook then bait. I know your a bass guy but presentation is last on the list in the surf, location #1, fresh #2, gear #3 (including hook sizes etc).

Your float is a huge issue also, my guess is that when you pulled tight it was just the float on the inside edge of their teeth, then when you went to bury the barb you popped it out. The float pulling through opened the jaws just enough to have the hook follow out the gap. My advise is to suck it up on the crabs, check often and let the charks feed off the bottom like they want to.

When "setting" a circle hook during a run I will pick the rod out of the spike and without touching the drag put some thumb pressure on the spool while taking about 5-6 quick steps straight back, this puts stretch and slow pressure into the fish. This generally does the job and they will take off really pissed at this point. Point the tip about 45* to the fish and then tighten the drag to your fighting pressure. The only hookups I've missed on were bunker heads...because the bait was too big for the hook.

Also, just because it says 16/0 doesn't mean it's big enough. I have some 10/0's that I use that are twice the size of some other 10/0's I have.

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I don't think they are snagging the line because I can feel the fish's head shake, and the abraisions from the teeth run down the length of the line to the float, which is always torn to shreds. I think next time I'll put the float a little farther up the leader instead of right in front of the hook- this way it shouldn't interfere as much with the hookup.

With the 20/0 circle, when do you know it is the right time to tighten up and try to get it set? Am I right that all I need to do to set them is buckle down the drag and start reeling?

I also think the ST's teeth have something to do with it. Instead of the leader coming to the corner of the mouth where the circle will catch as you pull. Those long teeth hold the leader in the middle of the mouth and when you pull the hook can't catch in between all those teeth.

I don't know- just thinking out loud. there must be some way to bury the hook since they have it soo far back there!!!! The mate was telling me that the Sand Tigers will not grab the bait- instead they engulf it almost like a bass and hold it waaayy back in the throat.

hmmmm:dontknow:

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Ok Charkbait- i posted my last post just as you submitted that. Those are some good pointers. I had a feeling the float had something to do with it.

Also, when it comes to rigging th bait- I was under the impression that you put the point through the bait as many times as possible. So your saying that i only need to hook the bait once? Almost like nose hooking a finesse worm from drop shot fishing? (bass terminology)

As for the hook- it is a mustad duratin 16/0 Circle that i open up with pliers to make the gap even bigger.

Those were great instructions for setting circles!!!!!!! I will certainly try them next time.

Ben

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I don't think they are snagging the line because I can feel the fish's head shake, and the abraisions from the teeth run down the length of the line to the float, which is always torn to shreds. I think next time I'll put the float a little farther up the leader instead of right in front of the hook- this way it shouldn't interfere as much with the hookup.

With the 20/0 circle, when do you know it is the right time to tighten up and try to get it set? Am I right that all I need to do to set them is buckle down the drag and start reeling?

I also think the ST's teeth have something to do with it. Instead of the leader coming to the corner of the mouth where the circle will catch as you pull. Those long teeth hold the leader in the middle of the mouth and when you pull the hook can't catch in between all those teeth.

I don't know- just thinking out loud. there must be some way to bury the hook since they have it soo far back there!!!! The mate was telling me that the Sand Tigers will not grab the bait- instead they engulf it almost like a bass and hold it waaayy back in the throat.

hmmmm:dontknow:

Most fish in the surf will gulp an entire chunk, then (excluding stripers) take off pretty quickly towards portugal, this in itself is usually enough to get the leader to the corner and pressure from you will slide the hook from the gut through to the corner of the mouth. Remember the leading edge coming out of the mouth needs to be the hook gap and point. This is where getting rid of the float comes in.

One other thing that will help is to go down to malin wire rather then cable, it will find the corner a little easier and also slide out easier helping the hook to find the corner.

As far as time to set, once the clicker starts to go, get to the rod, count to 5 and then pull from the spike and do what I described in the other post.

How are you setting drag etc while in the spike?

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Ok Charkbait- i posted my last post just as you submitted that. Those are some good pointers. I had a feeling the float had something to do with it.

Also, when it comes to rigging th bait- I was under the impression that you put the point through the bait as many times as possible. So your saying that i only need to hook the bait once? Almost like nose hooking a finesse worm from drop shot fishing? (bass terminology)

As for the hook- it is a mustad duratin 16/0 Circle that i open up with pliers to make the gap even bigger.

Those were great instructions for setting circles!!!!!!! I will certainly try them next time.

Ben

You've got the idea on the finess worm, ever use a pork-o? Kind of like that or a pork trailer for tuna bellies and/or bloodline. If you are checking bait (20 minutes) often this is ideal.

try and offset the hook point about 1/4 inch as well it will help if the line doesn't find the corner of the mouth like on ST's in some cases.

hook em' up!

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Ok, so i will rig my baits differently next time. Once through the tuna with a 20/0 circle making the hook point the first thing coming out. Also, eliminate the float and check bait every 20 minutes.

As for what I used to do:

once the clicker started screamin i run over to the rod, turn of the clicker (still letting him take it- just taking away some of the noise). Then I would pick the rod up out of the spike and loosen the drag up a little to let him take it , but still keep some tension with my thumb as he takes line; give him about 10 seconds to run, then walk forward and drop the rod buckling down the drag. Then I would just start reeling until the line got tight and the shark started taking drag, Then lean into it to start fighting the fish.

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Its good to give them time but bad to give them too much time which I think is part of the problem but I can't blam you for letting them eat if you keep missing. Generally speaking once the clicker starts screaming off they have the bait as good as they are going to get it. That 5 seconds for me is just for me to calm down and think a little instead of sprinting down the beach and yanking the rod out of the holder.

Set the cliker and drag to the point just before the wave action can pull out line and never go less then that, some fish can take the bait hard enough to cause a backlash. I wouldn't worry about the clicker until after you come tight on them and they hit the after burners...that's what it's all about man! If it weren't for big loud clickers I probably wouldn't surf fish.

Remember if they are moving away and the clicker is singing for a few seconds, that's plenty long to start getting that circle where you want it. Just give it some thumb pressure to slow them down and then 5-6 quick steps backward...they'll let you know at that point they are hooked. Point the rod at the fish and let them burn it up while you SLOWLY tighten your drag to where you are comfortable, I keep mine very light and use thumb pressure when I can, when they want to run I let em'.

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You weren't doing anything wrong in the way you were setting the circles...perfect form following instructions. The difference in the surf is that you'll generally have more then 100 yards out by the time you are setting up, that a lot of stretch and slack even to overcome and I found that the quick backing up compensates for trying to reel down on a fish and works MUCH better.

Now drum fishin', you don't have to do much of anything, those crazy kamakazies can't help but hook themselves with their suicide runs.

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Now drum fishin', you don't have to do much of anything, those crazy kamakazies can't help but hook themselves with their suicide runs.

Perfectly said!

LMAO!

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That is some awesome advice, I will use that the next time I get down.

So here is what I will change:

Bigger Circle (20/0) w/ offset

no Float (check for crabbies after 20 mins of soak)

"nose hook" bait instead of covering the entire shank of the hook

Simply take quick steps back with pressure to set circle hook- no need to let them run too far (makes it a longer fight though!).

now for the clicker- that thing is soo darn loud on the Daiwa Sealine-x 50 that i need to turn it off just so I can think straight and get the steps right!!!!

It is great to be napping a little bit and have the clicker explode right next to your ear!!!!

ben

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One thing about this whole situation that is on my mind.....

Seems to me Ben, you are getting an AWFUL lot of hits - 10 hits? That's 9 more shark runs than I've gotten so far this summer!

Your rig with the float may be interfering with the hook set, but it also maybe increasing your hit rate..... I'm wondering if (in addition to getting away from crabs) the floating bait makes it more visible / enticing to the shark?

Question would be - would you rather have 10 hit and catch 2? Or 2 hit and catch 1?

:dontknow:

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Yeah I am shocked by the amount of runs I am having. that is why I am soo darn frustrated. These runs are not from smaller sharks because I am feeling every single one before the hook pops out!!!!

if I had 100% hookup ratio with the sharks that were on long enough for me to set the hook (I had aobut 20 more that dropped the bait early, but they seems like smaller fish)- i could have had well into 20 sharks over the course of the week. that is why i want to head down now and fish some more!!!!

The odd part about it was I fished the two previous nights and only had 1 or 2 runs each night. Then, if I remember correctly, the night that I started using the big orange floats- was the night I had 15 or so runs!!!!!

Next time down i think I might purchase another setup and have 2 without floats, 1 with- and see what the dealio is?????

:dontknow:

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One thing about this whole situation that is on my mind.....

Seems to me Ben, you are getting an AWFUL lot of hits - 10 hits? That's 9 more shark runs than I've gotten so far this summer!

Your rig with the float may be interfering with the hook set, but it also maybe increasing your hit rate..... I'm wondering if (in addition to getting away from crabs) the floating bait makes it more visible / enticing to the shark?

Question would be - would you rather have 10 hit and catch 2? Or 2 hit and catch 1?

:dontknow:

Unless you've tested that float with a big chunk of meat I'd venture to say it's on bottom anyway. You'd need a HUGE float (read balloon) to keep a large chunk of tuna up off the bottom with current pulling on it etc. The current will cause the float to fight the sinker and current making it move even lower under the pressure...like reeling in a bobber.

Trowpa, you aren't the only one getting blanked at AI, I think those bethany beaches have something going for them for ST's in close. If I remember correctly they have a much deeper surf zone without that defined AI outer bar and IRI being close by doesn't hurt either!

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yeah that is what i was thinking. I don't think that hunk of foam will float a big piece of metal and a solid chunk of tuna. Maybe it is just the color, but they shouldn't see that in the dark???

Anyway- the bethany surf seems to be the best place to get them on casted baits. Not only are you close to the IRI, but there is also no shallow outer bar to speak of. The only wave action is right on shore even on the roughest days. I think the sharks can come right up to the beach without swimming too shallow for their comfort. I certainly had the chance to catch up to 10 sharks on some nights even with a mediocre hookup percentage!!

Thats why I think I am heading back in a few weeks!!!

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My 2 cents. I do not use circles for sharks. Too hard to hook with all the teeth in the way. If you are gonna open up a circle why not just a J hook to begin with. I like those old style drum hooks or even a simple 11/0 Mustad J hook. The only problem with those big Js is winding the bare hook back in as they drag and dig into the sandy bottom and frequent sharpening needed. Also I am casting baits so I am using smaller fish heads so I do not need a huge hook to hold huge baits. Iffin I was yakkin would be different story.

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J hooks for toothies. Especially targeting anything over 3 or 4 foot. Keep em real sharp, offset if ya like, and make sure ya got enough hook exposed outta the bait, so its barb can sink into the mouth. I think the slimmer hooks outperform the wider, thicker metal hooks. Sounds like you have a pretty good spot there Ben. :)

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The structure of a sharks mouth is always going to make hook ups that much harder on a shark rather than a fish. Make sure your hooks are very sharp and the hook is well exposed for a good penitration poke.

I use malin wire and cable...and IMO, I haven't noticed any difference in hook up ratio from cable and wire. As far as floats, I started using them about 6"-10" from the hook (3 1/2 foot cable then float and 6" of cable and hook) when the crabs are real bad when I am yaking. It definitely keeps the bait up as long as there is little to no current. I thought maybe the weight of the hook and bait would not float so I checked it out when I yaked out. I held down the bait about a foot below the water and noticed the 2 cork balls easily floated a large tuna belly and hook. IMO, a large tuna belly isn't that hard to keep a float. If your float is right next to your hook, then it may hinder a hook up.

Keep in mind, sharks are different from fish. They like to tear and chomp. They often will grab and chomp as they run. As a result, I like the drag fairly loose and let them grab, run, chomp and then I put pressure on the spool and try to set the hook.

I am yaking and tend to use large baits and hooks but I would always make sure your hooks are razor sharp with plenty of hook exposed.

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Ben,

Nothing I can add except to check your hook very often! Also sharpen it out of the package. I would lose the float. Sounds like we need to head up to Bethany.:dontknow::dontknow::dontknow::dontknow::dontknow:

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Oh yeah...glad to hear that you are getting a lot of runs!

I gave up on using opened circles and use mustad 10/0 j hooks with a long shank.The ones that I use are sold to be used for trolling with parachute and umbrella rigs in the Bay for big Stripers.Not too pricey.Still miss a few takedowns..but not many.I think that the mouthfull of teeth that a ST has makes it hard to get the point of a hook into a soft spot every time.

I am soooooo glad that we are talkin some SHARK!

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I'd like to get out there and get a depth reading. I'm thinking at yak distance it's probably 30-50 feet. Maybe have a balloon a few feet from the hook and the FF weight 30 feet back so it rests on the bottom and the bait is near the surface. So many of the larger species work the top waters. I'd like to try it out.

Maybe even have a breach!! :D :D :D

Just got me thinking when I read about the float for the third time....

Should keep it away from the crabs too.

I agree with CG about the J's from a yak. That point digs in sometimes when empty and it's like reeling in a 5 gallon bucket, ALL THE WAY IN! In addition, the J's tend to get in the belly and I don't want to kill anything I intend to put back. Hence, I only use 20/0 circle now, plenty of gap to fine a sweet spot with a big bait on.

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The funny thing is though is that I rigged a kingfish just like the guys at Texas Gulf Fishing show you to rig the fish (lage hook exposed out of back). I had two MONSTER runs on them and felt the fish- but to no avail, reeled in two chewed up leaders and floats. I think I will move the float and peg it away from the hook next time maybe. Either way- i want to get out there and experiment again before it is too late. That sharks are chomping there and I am at home- ahh!

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