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We Couldn’t stop at just flies. now carrying everything but the fish!

Mako Shark Fly Fishing

Mako Shark Fishing Trip Fly Fishing theflystop.com

San Diego California Shark Fishing


The kelp and deep water trenches immediately off the San Diego coast line offer ideal habit for various sharks with Mako, Blue and Thresher sharks being the most sought after species. Even Hammerheads can become part of the mix. Sharks are accessible and available year round, with Thresher fishing best in the Spring, Mako fishing best in late Spring through the early Fall, and Blues are the most predominant shark in the Winter and Spring months. None of which is an exact science, and many of the species overlap, and you can always still have an off chance of a Mako in the winter for example. At The Fly Stop, we specialize in Fly Fishing For Sharks, in particular Makos followed by Blues.

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We are extremely fortunate in that we are in 1 of 3 known Mako Shark rookeries in the world. A rookery is essentially fancy terminology for breeding grounds. For this reason, our waters are full of Mako Sharks in the 40lb to 200 lb range. We also have a lot of fish bigger than that, and every year Makos up to 1000lb are hooked on the fly fishing gear as well! What does this mean to the fly fisherman?  It means we have ready access, for the majority of the year, to one of the hardest fighting, fastest running, highest jumping fish species known to man. If that is not enough, fly fishing for Mako sharks is 100% a visual experience. These fish are attracted to and caught within feet of the boat. Imagine watching a 300lb shark grab your fly 30 feet off your boat, and within a few feet of or even directly on the surface. This is quite common, and in fact the typical scenario. Fly fishing for apex predators and deep offshore waters is some of the most exhilarating fly fishing our customers have ever experienced.


The typical set up for Mako Shark fly fishing are multiple rods in the 12-16 weight range. Huge beefy (barbless) hooks in sizes up to 10/0 are typical. Several factors and variances go into selecting the proper place to start, but typical shark fishing starts with checking visibility, water color, tides, and temperature variance to hone in on the exact location to get started. Sharks love to follow structure, with our vast knowledge of the area, we will gather all the subtleties together and have your game plan drawn up upon your arrival.  

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One thing to keep in mind is that Mako Shark Fly Fishing is not your typical fishing adventure. Once set up at the location for the day, what proceeds can be maddening slow lulls followed by total frenzy and chaos. Typically, once in the area a chum bucket is prepared with various fish parts, and we start a slick typical to shark fishing. This, much as hunting, is a waiting game.  We are targeting known structure and travel corridors that Makos travel and hunt through, something our guides has perfected as an art form. With uncanny sensory organs, ideally sharks in the area pick up on that chum sent and work their way to its source, the boat.  When targeting Makos or any sharks for that matter, it is a waiting game. This is not nonstop casting and action. This is more of implementing a strategy, staying patient and letting things pan out. A typical drift or slick can be set up and fished over for anywhere from 1 hour to the whole day. The longer a slick is worked the more the surrounding area is saturated. A common theme in shark fishing is “stick and stay, to make it pay,” meaning set up your slick, be patient, and see it to fruition. I have seen sharks at a boat in 20 minutes, and I have seen sharks at the boat in 7 hours, patience is a must.

Once sited the Mako or other species of shark often form a pattern of movement around the boat. As an apex predator and enjoying their position at the top of the food chain, a Mako has no real fear of you or the boat. With their ominous black beady eye often staring directly at you, they will repeatedly circle the boat staring back and investigating the source of the smell.  Every shark is different some will eat almost immediately upon arrival. Others need a little coercion. If things are not panning  out on their own, often we will have a teaser on a conventional spinning rod set up, to tease and excite the shark into biting.  In this case, we get them amped on the spinning gear and pull the old “bait and switch” to hook them up on the fly. 

After eating it takes a little patience for the shark to turn into a good position for a hook set. Easier said than done, try watching a 250lb shark with 30 feet of you eat a 12 inch long fly and not pull immediately! Once you have your angle, hit the fish like you would a tarpon, by using the line and the  butt end of the rod to set the hook. Hit them multiple times as well. Mako’s have very bone filled jaws, you have to drive that hook home. When in doubt, hit them again!


If all goes well, and you get a solid hook up, hold on! No joke, without exaggerations these shark is one of the top two fastest fish swimming with speeds up to 45 miles per hour.  That means 100, 200, 300 yard runs, so watch your knuckles. Further more, these fish can jump up to 20 feet out of the air, and often try to! Many times, once they get cartwheeling a Mako will repeatedly jump 3, 4, 5 times in a row! Maybe even more. These fish are built for speed and are a bullet. 

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We have specialized tools for landing these fish. Nothing is kept, and no sharks are killed or will ever be killed on our charters, period. We are interested in the sport of things, not blood and guts, and these sharks are way too valuable alive to ever consider killing. We will get the sharks close to the boat, and release them without every removing them from the water. This is done for both the sharks safety as well as yours. Mako’s have some of the gnarliest teeth in the shark world, you do not want to see them next to you. With the barbless hooks and flies we use on all trips, the shark is easily removed and off to be caught another day. 

If you are ever in the San Diego, and wish to try fishing for something new and for something that hunts you back, give us a ring a The Fly Stop Guide Service. Our guides work directly with the best names in the game, and Conway Bowman, the man who created the entire game of Mako Shark Fly Fishing!  We would love to get you out, and tie you to your first or next shark on the fly!

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