Best Shark Fishing Rig, Baits & Chum Tips (For Inshore Sharks)

By: Joseph Simonds on December 5, 2019
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best inshore shark fishing tips, rigs, and bait

It’s shark fishing time!

One of the best parts about fishing is hearing the drag scream as a big fish is pulling with all their might on the other side of your line, and few fish do that as well as sharks.

In this video we have Capt. Mark “Hollywood” Johnson from sharing his favorite rig for inshore and nearshore sharks, plus a really fun way to chum, sight fish, and “hand feed” sharks.


Best Shark Fishing Rig, Baits & Chum Tips [VIDEO]

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When you’re fishing for sharks in inshore and nearshore waters, here are a few of the species you’ll typically find:

  • Bull sharks
  • Blacktip sharks
  • Spinner sharks
  • Lemon sharks
  • Big nurse sharks
  • Hammerhead sharks
  • Tiger sharks

Let’s talk about the best rig for shark fishing, starting with the hook and moving up from there.

Best Hook For Shark Fishing

Capt. Johnson usually goes with an 8/0 inline circle hook for inshore and nearshore shark fishing.

Since you’re usually going to cut the line (“hooks are cheap, but fingers are expensive”), it’s imperative that you use a circle hook that will go into the corner of the fish’s mouth and rust away in the saltwater rather quickly.

Get a pack of 8/0 Owner circle hooks from Amazon here.

Single Strand Wire

Capt. Johnson recommends using three feet of single strand wire for the leader because it’s easy to use (no crimping tools needed) and he finds it’s more resistant to sharp teeth.

He likes Malin wire in the #3 – #6 size (the higher number, the thicker wire is).

Pro tip: if an acrobatic shark like a spinner shark twists your leader, use a wire straightener to straighten it out instead of tying on a new leader or tossing it back out there all twisted.

Haywire Twist for tying wire leader

haywire twist

When you’re using wire leader, the best knot is the haywire twist.

However, make sure that you kink it off (don’t cut it), because cutting it leaves a very sharp tag end.

Monofilament Topshot

Braided line is great because it’s very strong for such a thin diameter, but one problem is that there’s no stretch.

This can be a problem for acrobatic sharks, such as spinner sharks, so Capt. Johnson recommends tying on a topshot of monofilament.

Another benefit of using mono is that it’s easier to grab than wire leader when you’re landing the shark.

He typically uses 15 feet of 50-80 lb test.

This is connected to the wire leader by a swivel, and connected to the mainline with a line to leader knot, like the FG knot.

Best bait for sharks

ladyfish for shark bait

Capt. Johnson’s favorite bait for catching sharks is ladyfish.

He also likes:

  • bonita
  • barracuda
  • jack crevalle
  • Spanish mackerel
  • amberjack

Remember, even though it’s shark bait, you need to follow the rules and regulations for each fish.

Chumming (and sight fishing) for sharks

chumming for sharks

Now one way to make fishing for sharks even more exciting is to sight fish for them.

You can do by that making a stringer, like the one pictured above, butterfly one a shark bait, and put it on a stringer out behind your boat.

Oftentimes you’ll see the hungry shark approaching your boat with its fin out of the water and you’ll get a chance to sight cast to him!


saltwater fish high in mercury

Strong Angler Matt Slack with a shark he caught

Shark fishing can be some of the most exciting inshore fishing you can do, but as Capt. Johnson mentioned in the video, when fishing for inshore sharks make sure to use a circle hook and be safe when releasing them.

They can be fun to catch, but remember that they have sharp teeth and they do bite.

If you’re in the Keys and want to go fishing with Capt. Johnson, check out

Have any questions about catching inshore sharks?

Let me know in the comments below!

And if you know someone who wants to catch more sharks, please TAG or SHARE this with them!

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John KujawskiAnonymousBennie ThomasJonathan GetzKeith Altendorf Recent comment authors
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John Kujawski

Capt Mark, can you drift or is anchoring a must? Do you use a balloon to support you bait? Thx

Keith Altendorf

Thank you for the great video and information. I’m wondering how do you fillet the lady fish so it can be hooked to the anchor ring? Secondly, how large of a piece of lady fish do you use to “hand feed the shark when it is near the boat? Finally, do you troll or drift the ring around or anchor and let the current move the scent?
Thanks again!

Donald Cullen

Great video! Thanks, learned so much.

Davy Willmore

I remember the first time my boys hooked a shark Tarpon fishing… that moment lives forever. OH… and by the way, the only place I would be afraid to get in the water, the Humps …. where the capt’n mentioned. Sharks seemed stacked in there like cord wood.

John Bowman

Just an awesome video, great job! Can’t wait to twist some wire and catch ‘em up!


how do you straighten wire leader by hand?


how do you straighten wire leader?


At a few tackle stores, they sell clamshells. They’re two pieces of metal(That look like clamshells.) that are run on either side of the wire by hand, one way, to straiten out single wire leaders. Run the clamshells both ways, up and down the leader, it ruins your single strand leader, filling it with kinks.

michael sullivan
michael sullivan

What type of knot do you use to connect the braid to the shock leader?

Jonathan Getz

Hey Michael, I would use a double uni or FG for lighter (~50lb) mono/fluoro tied to braid. In my area, I actually use 200 lb mono and I crimp a loop on the top to tie my braid to.

Guy Leveille

Great video and information guys!!! I’m headed down to the keys in a few weeks for Christmas and wanted to do a little shark fishing with my dad (87 years old!) and 2 of my daughters (both in their 20’s). Capt Johnson’s rigging tips were what I’ve been looking for, especially the detail on how to wrap the wire correctly….(I’ve been doing it wrong!) and how to break it off as opposed to cutting it (yep…I was doing that wrong too!). Ive never used a shock leader but that’s going to change immediately. Glad to hear about Ladyfish for bait as well! That’s primarily what I’ve used in Mosquito Lagoon and Indian River for sharks and I’ve had success with it, so I was glad to hear I was doing SOMETHING right!
Sharks are one of my favorite species to fish for. I needed this video to be better prepared to catch and release these awesome fish safely and with as little harm to them…and myself! Thanks again!

Craig Wycinsky

Great video guys! Thank you!!!

Preston Runyan

Great video! What size rod and reel is recommended? Any video examples on how to safely cut the hook.

Jonathan Getz

With smaller sharks, you can catch them on your usual inshore setups. I would bump up the leader though to thin wire or heavier mono/fluoro. For inshore/nearshore, you can catch most sharks on a 4000-6000 spinning reel and a 7′ MH rod.

Bennie Thomas

When we go for sharks, we have a pair of long handle bolt cutters. We will get the shark next to the boat, take a couple of pictures and with the long handle cutters, we can cut the hook below the hooks eye. That way there’s no wire trailing from the shark and the rest of the hook is barely hanging in its mouth.

Thomas Marks

Love this video! A couple weeks ago I caught my first Black Tip Shark on 20 lb fluorocarbon leader the shark was about 4 1/2 feet… great fight! I am hooked! I was lucky to land it with the light leader, I know that because I lost about 4 or 5 after the one I caught every one bit through the leader. Now I know how to rig for them. Thank you for this video.