Basic Shark Fishing Equipment for Boatmen.
by Captain Tom King www.newenglandsharks.com
Most anglers ask what rods and reels should they use. That's the wrong question. If you are going to fish 30 lb., 50 lb. or 80 lb. test line, you would need different rods and reels.
The first consideration is what test line you should use and how much of it do you need? That decision will determine what rods and reels are necessary. My recommendation based on experience, is 50 -80lb. test and 500 yds. are needed for New England shark fishers, as their basic tackle for bait fishing sharks.
Exception: If you encounter Big Threshers and Makos you might want to go to 500 yds of at least 80lb test. Thresher and Mako Sharks over 300 lbs. can stay down for two hours or more against a 20 lb drag. If you fish in an area where you might encounter these sharks I would put at lease 80lb line on a 50lb Class Wide Reel. The drag system on the Shimano Tiagra 50WRLS is that of a larger 80lb Class setup and offers it to the angler in a smaller package.
Most New England shark fishing is done in less than 600 feet of water. (more than likely 300 feet or less)
With 500 yds. of 50-60 pound test line on the reel, a straight down dive by a shark won’t empty the spool. Surface runs over 300 yds. are also rare against a 15 lb. drag setting using 50-60 lb. test line.
There are specialized cases of shark fishing; such as Canyon fishing in thousands of feet of water, where you would need more line and heavier equipment, since a straight down dive could clean off a 500 yd capacity reel. As a new sharker I wouldn’t expect you to be out in the canyons.
Often people who fish from shore will carry the hook bait out hundreds of yards on a kayak or jet ski and drop it. In that specialized situation if you only had 500 yds. on the reel you would be fishing with hundreds of yards already off the reel, and not have much in reserve. Those special situations would require reels with more than 500 yards capacity, and you should probably go to 80 lb. test line for the wear and tear on the line from rubbing on the bottom.
Capt. Billy Verbanas and crew took this mako on July 22, 2000, between Baltimore and Poor Man's Canyon where the water is six thousand feet deep. That depth of water would require more line capacity reels than are necessary to use here in New England, since a straight down dive could clean off a 500 yd capacity reel. We rarely fish in water over 500 feet deep in New England and 500 yds is sufficient for most applications.
This 975 lb. mako is a new Delaware State Record.The mako was on for 14 hours, and was baited with a mackerel fillet. It was 12-1/2 feet long and had a 78 inch girth. Photo courtesy of Dale Timmons
Here in New England, about 99% of the time from a boat, you can keep the sharks within the line capacities of any reel holding 500 yds. of 50 -60lb. test line; provided that the drags are set with a drag scale at 15 lbs. in the strike position for a lever drag reel. If you use less than 500 yds of line and get a long reel stripping run you can usually move the boat to prevent losing your line. Sometimes another angler is hooked up and you may not be able to move the boat without emptying his reel. So make sure you have 500 yds. on your reel. You can use small cheap reels with thin braided line of 50 lb test to get capacity for sharkfishing. The problem is the drag systems won't hold up on reels intended for fish like striped bass if you are going to catch a lot of sharks.
If you "overline" the reel, that is put higher pound test on a reel such as putting 80 lb test on a 50 class reel, or 50 lb test line on a 30 class reel; set the drag for the heavier line.
Use a Spring Scale to set your drag with the rod in the bent position, not pointed at the scale as is recommended by one of the reel manufactures. When you get the drag set, watch the drag scale as you walk away at a fast pace. It should only jump up a couple of pounds and be smooth. If the drag is jerky and it rises something like 5 pounds above the original setting ; get it fixed. On a long hard run when the spool diameter gets smaller and the drag increases a sticky drag could cost you a fish.
Recommended Reels, and their line capacities for different monofilament pound test line
You rarely need 80 lb. class gear for most stand-up sharkfishing. But if you want to use 80 lb. test line; Shimano makes the Tiagra and TLD 2-Speed 50 class reels that are capable of handling 80lb line and a drag setting of 20-30lbs. It keeps the reels the same size as the 50s and you don't have to use the bulkier 80 lb. class reel. The 50WLRS holds about 550 yds. of 80 lb. test.
If you want to go lighter than 50 lb. test
The Shimano TLD 2 speed 30, ($299.99) holds 450 yds. of 40 lb. or 600 yds. of 30 lb. test.
With the newer braided lines you can get much more line on the reel than mono, using the same pound test.
All reels should be clamped to the rod and secured well.
Some sharkers prefer the larger capacity of the 50 wides because as they cut back frayed 50 lb. test line from the 800 yd. capacity, they still have sufficient line on the reel to get through the season without re-spooling new line. If you cut back a lot on a regular 50 class reel (500 yds. of 50 lb. test)) you may reduce the line capacity below 400 yds. In that case you should re-spool. The difference in weight between a 50 and 50 wide is only a matter of ounces. If in doubt about what reel to purchase - get the 50 wide.
Many sharkers will use 50 wides and put 80 lb. test line on the reels. This will still give you 500 yds. of 80 lb. line on a 50 wide reel. Just remember it is still a 50 lb. class reel and the drag should be set that way (12-17 lbs in the strike position), and not for the 80 lb. test line, which would have a drag setting on an 80 class reel of 20-27 lbs. in the strike position.) If you put 80 lb. test line on a 50 wide set the drag at 17 pounds.
The exception is the Shimano Tiagra 50 W L.R.S. which is designed for 80 lb. line and the correspondingly higher drag setting of 20-27 lbs.
If you are a new sharker or an inexperienced fisherman and have to purchase a reel, and don't want to spend $400 to $500 for the reel; get the 115L Penn Senator and spool it with 60 lb. test. If you are an experienced fisherman, a Penn 114H is fine, spooled with 50 lb. test.
It will cost about $15 to $20 to fill each reel with monofilament line. To prevent the line from cutting into itself and jamming on a long run by a shark; put the line on the reel under tension. When fighting a fish that has stopped running, pull the fish back by raising the rod tip, and then reel the rod tip down under constant slight pressure to keep a strain on the line. Keep the line level across the spool so it doesn't egg up and jam in the cross braces on the frame, as you retrieve the line. Remember reels store line . Winches pull line in under tension. Bring the fish back with the rod and store the line with the reel.
Mono-Braided - Dacron
Dacron and new age braided lines like Power Pro are fine, but as a beginner, I would recommend monofilament. You may or may not have trouble hooking a shark on mono because of the stretch, if you do , you may want to try Dacron or braided line. There are people fishing off the beaches with mono that have Kayaked out their bait well over a hundred yards and don't have problems hooking sharks. In shark tournaments, unless you are fighting a shark you must take your line out of the water at a specific time. You cannot hook a shark after lines out time. When we get close to lines out time we let the outer bait drift farther out in the slick to intercept a shark that would not get hooked before lines out time. You are allowed to continue to fight any shark as long as it is hooked before lines out. We have hooked sharks almost 200 yds from the boat with mono doing this.
In normal shark fishing while drifting with 3 baits out, the line length from the rod tip to the hook on the farther out bait is usually less than a hundred yards. Would it be easier to hook a shark with braided or Dacron line. Yes. But it still can be done with mono.
Taking a page from the tuna fishermen, some sharkers fill the reel over half way with dacron and then use a top shot of 200 yds. of mono to fill the spool. The theory being, only the first two hundred yards or so gets roughed up. When it comes time to replace it, you only need 200 yds. of mono instead of 500 yds. The Dacron doesn't need to be replaced as often. To avoid a knot, the connection from the mono to the dacron backing can be made by inserting the mono several feet into the dacron and floss whipping and gluing the mono entry point. Tuna fishermen are paranoid about losing a fish that may be worth many thousand of dollars so they go to extreme measures to make sure the mono won't pull out under any circumstances. Inserting the mono 10-20 feet into the dacron would be normal for a tuna fisherman, whereas a sharker would insert 5-10 feet. Some who get paranoid about the mono pulling out and losing a fish will also whip and glue the area where the mono ends inside the Dacron as well as the entry area and sometimes in between. There are many ways to do make this connection and because mono and Dacron come in different pound tests, you should experiment trying some short samples of mono and dacron until you get the combination you feel is right and will hold.
Rods for Shark Fishing
Use fiberglass rods. A decent fiberglass rod is practically unbreakable. Graphite is not reliable. We do not have a graphite rod left on the boat. Our charters, and the sharks, have field tested them into pieces. I don't care who makes the rod or how many people swear by them ; if it is graphite it is unreliable, period.
Basically a 5-6 foot medium action fiberglass rod rated for 30-50 lb. line is a good compromise. Gorillas who use 80 lb. gear usually use rods under 6 feet, but we use 50 lb. test and it works just fine on 6 foot rods .
The Rods used for shark fishing must have butts with a slotted gimbal to fit a fighting belt. A Rod with a Roller System is good, but you don’t need an all roller guide rod. Figure on spending at least $250 for a new rod, If you do get an all roller guide rod make sure there is enough space above the rollers for the double line knot to smoothly make the transition.
The Double Line.
If you were to tie the single strand 50 lb. test running line directly to a 4/0 snap swivel and then snap on the wire leader, you may break the single 50 lb. test line when a shark gets close to the boat and bolts straight down. The violent snap downward of the rod and the friction of the tip and guides may not allow the reel drag to start slipping instantaneously and the single line might break before the drag starts slipping. This is especially true if an angler is in a harness and can't lower the rod tip because the upper harness is attached to the reel, and the rod butt is in a fighting belt. To avoid this problem a double line is used, and it is IGFA approved.
Making a double line.
Here's how to make a double line. Pull off the reel about 30- 35 feet of single line. Loop it back on itself and make a knot with a spider hitch or bimini twist. This gives you a 30 foot loop more or less - it will be about 15 feet long when stretched and the two legs are parallel. At the end of the stretched loop secure your 4/0 snap swivel with the doubled line, using an Offshore knot , or an Improved clinch knot. Make sure each leg of the double line is taking the same amount of tension while tying the knot to the 4/0 swivel.
So now, when you reel a shark in close, the double line knot and a portion of the 15-20 foot doubled line will come through the guides and around the reel. Then if the fish bolts it will be pulling on the double line to start the drag slipping, before the single line comes off the reel. If the fish bolts before the double line is wound onto the reel you will have enough mono out from the rod tip to absorb the shock and allow the drag to slip before the line breaks.
Another method some sharkers use, is to put 80 lb. mono as the running line on a 50 wide, set the drag at 17 lbs and not use a double line at all, just clip directly to a wire leader.. They just keep cutting back the 80 lb. line as the line gets frayed.
Make them long and strong.
The reason for long shark leaders is: Sharks are abrasive throughout their length, and besides biting themselves loose, they can abrade the line with their fins and body. They also wrap up in the leader and shorten it, unlike other species such as bass and blues . So a practical leader has to be several feet longer than the length of the longest shark you are expecting to catch. Otherwise if the leader is shorter than the shark, they can cut your mono or dacron beyond the wire leader with their tail. If they get wrapped on the body away from the tail it is much easier to turn and bite the line. Hopefully the teeth will find steel instead of mono or dacron.
The leaders have to be much stronger than the running line, because a shark who gets the leader wrapped on its tail will twist around and try to bite it. The shark will then be in a C shape with the leader taut between the hook in the mouth and the wrap on the tail, and the line will also be taut between the shark's tail and your rod tip. When the shark violently straightens out, if the leader is slow to release around the tail it can be torn apart or the hook straightened out. Hooks smaller than the 12/0 7698 may straighten out if the shark gets tail wrapped. That's why I recommend the 12/0 7698 hooks.
So understanding those points; for conventional standup anglers, I recommend at least a 200 pound test leader system, with total leader wire about 16 feet long.
Make the upper section 480 lb. braided wire 10 feet long, with a crimped offshore loop on one end, and a crimped on 4/0 snap swivel on the other end. Use crimps and offshore loops on the braided wire. This 10 foot braided wire (cable) upper section will be used over and over, only being replaced when it shows signs of fraying or corroding - or gets lost.
On the solid wire hook section you will use haywire twists. Make the lower hook section 6 feet long. Put a haywire loop on one end, and a 12/0 - #3407 hook haywired on the other end. This solid section can be clipped onto the upper braided wire section via the 4/0 snap swivel on the upper section. Use a Dubro #3 wire twister on the solid wire to make the haywire twist connections. The lower section of solid wire should be made with Malin wire in the #14 (220lb test) thru #18 (350 lb. test wire) sizes. Don't use less than #14 wire as it will cut into the shark if it rolls up in the wire. I find #16 wire 285 lb. test is all around a good choice. People who enter shark tournaments get paranoid about equipment failures since prize and calcutta money can be sizeable; so they will use much heavier equipment like #19 wire (400 lb test)
For makos use a single 10 /0 to 12 /0 - # 7731 hook, and replace the snap swivel on the braided wire with a 4/0 or larger barrel swivel. Then wire directly the solid wire lower hook section (#16 (285 lb. test) or #18 (350 lb. test), to the swivel with a haywire twist. This will give you a solid connection between the braided upper and solid wire hook section. They will both be wired directly to the swivel with no chance of them coming loose unless the swivel breaks. A "Crane" bbl swivel 4/0 size is 350 lb test A 5/0 is 400 lb test.
If you have been stung by single strand solid wire breaking and want to use braided all the way ; leave a four foot tag end after you crimp the hook on, and haywire twist the braided line back on itself about four feet, and crimp it. That way if the mako gets the hook inside its mouth or swallows the bait, and gets it teeth on the wire, it will have to saw through two sections of braided wire.
Also the tension on each of the two braided wires from the crimp to the hook, would be less, making it harder to cut.
Those who have had makos saw through braided cable one strand at a time and break off, or who have had single strand solid wire break, resort to the extreme of twisting two solid wire sections together and making two connections at the hook and two at the running line. That way the mako can't bite through the solid wire or kink it and break it.
We catch 2 or 3 sharks on each 6 foot solid single wire hook section, by cutting close to the hook, and rewiring on a new hook with the #3 Dubro Wire Twister. When the solid wire gets under 3 feet snap on another pre-rigged 6 foot solid wire hook section.
Tape over all 4/0 snap swivels to keep them from opening up. (the snap at the end of the double line, and the snap between the upper and lower leader. On your specialized mako rig you will have a snap swivel at the end of the double line only, and a barrel swivel between the braided upper and the solid lower section in place of a snap swivel.)
When finishing the wrap, fold the end of the tape back on itself so you can grab the end later to unwrap it. Otherwise it will be very hard to unwrap the tape on a hot day. Tape the snap portion only so it can't open up..
Monofilament wind-ons are those leaders where a non metallic upper section, is made with heavy mono, much heavier then the running line. The leaders are 15-30 feet long usually testing at least 200 lbs.. Heavy mono is usually slid up inside the dacron and seized with some dental floss at various points. The connection from the wind-on to the mono running line on your reel, is a loop to loop connection made with a dacron loop on the wind on leader to a short mono loop made by a spider hitch or bimini twist on the running line. In this type of setup the 4/0 swivel is crimped to the heavy mono end of the wind- on leader.
This setup avoids bulky leader knots that could jam in the rod eyes. These 15-30 foot 200 lb.- 400 lb. test upper section mono leaders can be wound right through the rod eyes onto the reel, and only the 4/0 snap swivel and 6 foot lower solid wire hook section is out from the rod tip.
( The greatest thing since sliced bread , or so they say)
Wind- on leaders simplify several things. They get rid of the double line- they eliminate the upper braided wire section. They allow you to get the shark much closer to the rod tip, and they are much safer to use. You don't have to be wiring the fish on a long wire leader that will not come through the rod eyes. Wind-ons- allow the angler to get the shark much closer to the rod tip than a long wire leader which will not come through the rod tip, and will leave the shark some 16 feet away. Wind-on leaders are innovative and clever, and a favorite with many sharkers. Some well known sharkers won't fish without them. They can't praise them enough. They consider the two part all wire leader "Old School, behind the times, or yesterday's newspaper."
However, monofilament wind- on leaders are an ongoing disaster when sharks roll and bite through them. If a shark gets its teeth on anything non metallic it will cut through it. You could use your 5/8 inch dia. dock tie-up line for the upper section and it will not last if a big shark gets its teeth into it. I could chew through 400 lb. mono. myself. I have seen a mako on one jump bite through a friends 800 lb. mono upper leader. Makos have gaps between their teeth, and it would be easier for other species of sharks to bite through mono leaders as they have close together teeth like we do, only a heck of a lot sharper than ours.
I won't use a monofilament wind-on, unless I am sight fishing and see the shark first, and decide I don't care whether I lose the fish or not to a bite off. Otherwise a braided cable wind-on leader goes into the water. But if you are shorthanded, and are going to release all the sharks, and are willing to take your chances with a bite off, by all means try them.
Fishermas's Outfitter's wind-on is made using 10 feet of 400 lb braided wire inserted about 8 feet of 200 lb. dacron. They splice a dacron loop on the other end of the dacron. This allows making a loop to loop connection with the running line on the reel . Where the wire enters the dacron it is whipped with rigging floss and given a light coat of superglue. Before running the braided cable up into the dacron, put a drop of superglue on the cut end of the braided wire, and let it dry. Otherwise the many strands of braided wire on the cut end will catch the dacron, and make it impossible to insert the wire. I would only use this wire wind-on leader on an all roller guide rod or a rod with carbon steel eyes.
During 2003 I had some charters test the wire wind- on, and it held up on some really big Mako Sharks and angler abuse.
In tournaments now, you see more wire wind- on leaders being used. It makes it easy to wire up a fish since the angler can get the fish within 6 feet of the rod tip, since 6 feet or less of solid wire is attached to the end of the braided wire wind-on leader.
On July 16, 2004 I wired up a 337 lb thresher in the OB shark tournament . It was very easy and much safer to do with the wire wind-on leader.
A store bought made up cable wind on leader of 275 or 480 lb test will cost about $20
A long leader may not save you. Shit happens. I watched one day as a friend of mine battled a running jumping mako on a 20 (twenty) foot wire leader. On the third jump the mako came out of the water spinning. It wrapped up all the wire and ultimately beat the mono double line with its tail until the line broke.
Here is a more recent example from a Texas fisherman on Oct. 15, 2000
Hi, Captain Tom. I charter fish out of Port Aransas, Texas. Sunday oct. 15th we were fishing a 20 fathom wreck for Red Snapper, and doing quite well on 8-15 lb fish. I have caught makos before (up to 250 lbs) and had set two stainless
forged 14/0 hoooks in a boston mackerel out on 16ft of 270 lb wire attached to a barrel swivel attached to 20 ft of double 80 lb mono attached to 50lb mono on a 50sw, with a baloon attached to keep the bait at 10-12 ft below surface with current drifting it up. After about 45 minutes after setting out, while continuously slow chumming we got a run on the shark bait. The reel was screaming. I picked up the rod, engaged the drag, and before I could hand the rod to the customer we saw 10-12 ft (total length) of Mako clear
water. Her nose was 20 ft above the surface. I ran to the bow to release the anchor line on a buoy. (I had the anchor set for quick release and both engines still running, hoping for this opportunity) Then to the port side of boat to retrieve flying gaffs to cockpit, hearing that 50sw screaming in my ear. I threw the fly-gaffs in the cockpit and looked up to see where the fish was and saw a second leap, just as high as the first, but this time she rolled in mid air on a 45 degree angle twisting the leader around her huge
body. On her next run, obviously she tail cut the double 80 mono, and the line fell slack. She jumped one more time, even higher after cutting loose, just to say I WIN, I suppose. I kept every one well inside the boat (away from the rail) for the next 30 minutes to play it safe, and set a bait back for another. We continued snapper fishing till we got our limit. I guess the fish to go 600-750 lb. ..etc.
There are no guarantees. In that particular case If he had used a wind on leader which is usually about 30 feet long including the 200-400 pound mono and the 6 feet of solid wire hook section, the mako might not have cut through the heavier leader as it did the 80 lb. double line. On the other hand you run the risk of getting bitten off if the shark gets the wind-on mono leader in its mouth above the 6 foot solid wire hook section. Something that does happen.
It is also possible the mako might have gotten the double line in its mouth and didn't cut it with its tail. In that case it would have bitten through any pound test mono. (another reason for me to make a braided wire wind-on leader)
When it comes to big running jumping makos, you are better off being lucky than good.
Making up two part wire leaders
To make approximately 40 lower solid wire hook sections 6 feet long, get a pound of Malin wire($30) or American wire co. solid wire, in size # 14, 15,16 or 17. (Smaller wire such as #10-#12 tends to cut into the shark when they roll and wrap.) For the upper sections get 100 feet of 480 lb. test braided wire ($30) with appropriate crimping sleeves.($5). That will make about 9 upper sections; approx. 10 feet long after looping and crimping. Get a dozen 4/0 snap swivels ($10) and a half dozen or so 4/0 or stronger barrel swivels.($5)
You will need a crimping tool ($35) to crimp the braided wire; and a "Dubro #3 wire twister ($22) for the solid wire. Save the directions to the "Dubro" wire twister because without them you will never figure out how to use that tool.
For mako rigs, get several mustad 8/0 -12/0 # 7698 hooks For makos replace the snap swivel between the upper and lower leader with a barrel swivel 4/0 or larger. This will make a solid connection. Make up a couple of mako rigs and put them in zip lock bags. If you see a mako coming, use it to bait the mako. The normal rig with a snap swivel is OK for makos but when a mako start somersaulting you will feel better with a solid mid leader connection and 7698 or 7731 hook.
Small in size, but big in importance are the proper wire cutters. Don’t use as your everyday wire cutters, the popular fisherman's side cutters.
Buy two pairs of cable cutters; and keep them rust free and lubricated. When you have your hand near a shark’s teeth and want to cut the wire, the cutters have to do it then, not 2 or 3 squeezes later. Or worse yet, jam on the wire and not cut it. You may also have to cut the heavy braided wire to free someone caught in it. Get the cable cutters, they are not expensive, about $35. Always have 2 pairs available since you will eventually lose one pair overboard, and a second pair will be needed to cut the shark loose or free one of your crew. Those other wire cutters are OK as a backup in a pinch, but not for everyday use.
Fighting belt and harness.
The fighting belt, (gimbal belt) is a must. Most shark fishing boats have at least 2 good fighting belts with plenty of surface area to distribute the pressure. If you are using 50 lb. test line with the drag at 12-15 lb. the surface area to distribute the pressure is not as important as when you are using 80 lb. gear with the drag at 22- 24 lbs. Some models have a pivoting socket gimbal attached and are preferred by many stand-up anglers. Have onboard at least one back harness for those stubborn sharks. A good belt and back harness will cost about $100 apiece.
Warning: Anytime you attach a back harness to the reel the chances of your being pulled overboard greatly increase. Letting go of the rod won’t help you. You are still attached. There are many things that can happen where slacking the drag won't help either. Be prepared to sit down or drop to your knees and hang on until the line breaks! Of course if you decided to use line heavier than 50 lb. test and don’t get down quick enough you may very well get pulled out of the cockpit.
A fighting belt and harness in action.
Most sharks will be brought to the boat and cut free, but if you need to gaff a record shark, or a tournament entry, you should use a flying gaff, and then a straight handled gaff. A flying gaff consists of a gaff hook with attached rope, and a detachable handle to guide it . After the gaff hook is pulled into the shark, the rigid handle pulls free of the gaff hook, and you hang onto a rope attached to the gaff hook to control a thrashing shark. Flying gaffs are dangerous to use, because the hook may pull loose from the shark and snap back. Pay attention.
An 8 inch gap flying gaff hook is a good choice to subdue most sharks. You will also need a 6 inch gap straight gaff to handle the shark boatside.
Instead of a flying gaff, a straight gaff with an attached rope may be used. Some straight handle fixed gaffs have a metal loop on the gaff hook shank. Rope can be spliced into that loop. Then the rope is run up the permanently attached handle and secured at various points along the handle. The rope is longer than the gaff handle and after the shark is gaffed the fishermen hang onto the rope to avoid the gaff handle from being broken by the violent thrashing.
Some IGFA Rules.
To be IGFA legal keep the overall total length of your solid gaffs and fly gaff handles including the gaff hooks , at 8 feet or less.
On a fly gaff and fixed head gaff the attached rope to the gaff hook eye, should be 30 feet or less.
Fishing from a boat the tail rope is limited to 30 feet or less.
Shooting the fish or the use of a harpoon is prohibited. (IGFA Flyrodding rules are even more restrictive and you should read them before trying for a flyrod record.)
A Tail Rope is a must have to drag your shark to drown him.
Harpoon Dart Setup
Although not IGFA approved, and not allowed in many shark tournaments a harpoon dart is much safer and easier to put into a shark than a Fly Gaff. You should have one onboard. The pole, nose cone, line, shaft and dart are about $125 if store bought. The harpoon shafts vary in length from about 18- 22 inches. Make sure any knots on the line from the dart are beyond the shaft length, so that you don't have to drive a knot into the fish along with the dart. I would have at least 300 feet of handline in a basket attached to the dart. More, if you have it. Although you want to keep the line short and hold the shark at the boat after driving in the dart and pulling out the shaft, sometimes "sharks happen" and they bolt away. With the angler still attached, you have a chance to grab the 300 foot or longer dart line.
Haul the fish back with the dart line and have the angler just pick up the slack in his line. Otherwise if the angler is pulling hard and the dart line is taut, the wire leader may cut through the dart line.
Any gaffing or darting of makos should be done behind the dorsal toward the tail,-behind the dorsal toward the tail - behind the dorsal toward the tail.
Otherwise if you gaff in the head area and turn their head toward the boat they may bolt and jump into the boat - as they do every year all over the world.
This section is not all inclusive by any means, but it gives you an idea of what you need to get started , and the approximate costs. There are many other items you will add like a Drag scale($25),leather gloves ($15) chum dispenser, floats, balloons sinkers, crimpers, Dubro wire twister etc..
As the price per pound of tuna goes up so does the size of the tuna gear. Ultimately tuna fishermen give up any pretense of being sportsmen and end up with Intl. 130 two speed winches, 200lb mono or dacron, and bent butt rods placed in swivel rod holders. If you shop around during the off season a lot of good second hand 50 lb. class equipment, priced right, is available for the shark fisherman, as the tuna fishermen go to heavier gear.