How to Make the Ultimate Shark Leader

Learn how to rig the world's greatest shark leader.
Single-Strand Wire
A 6-foot section of No. 13 to No. 14 single-strand piano wire is perfect. Twist one end onto a Mustad 10/0 No. 7699 offset J-hook with a haywire twist.
Ball-Bearing Swivel
Twist the other end of your wire leader to one ring on a Sampo 300-pound ball-bearing swivel. This helps prevent line twist caused by spinning baits.
Multi-Strand Cable
Connect one end of an 8-foot section of 400-pound multi-strand cable to the other swivel ring using a pair of compression crimps with a crimping tool. Make a loop in the opposite end of the cable, insert a chafe guard, and crimp the loop tight with a second pair of crimps.

A 15-foot section of single-strand No. 11 to No. 15 stainless-steel piano wire is toothproof, but hard to handle at boatside. It kinks easily, leading to break-offs, especially with high-flying makos. The 49-strand stainless cable leader eliminates kinks, but even a lowly blue shark can bite through the thinner metal strands one by one. Two-piece leaders with heavy mono and wire on either side of a ball-bearing swivel are a step in the right direction, but the mono chafes easily when it comes into contact with the shark’s raspy skin.

My “ultimate shark leader” is based upon 40 years of charter fishing for shark. This two-piece leader is strong, easy to handle at boatside by grabbing the swivel with a glove, and affordable (costs about $6). You will need a crimper and a haywire twisting tool. This leader takes about five minutes to build.

Quick Tip: Sharking can be fast fishing. Stay in the action by making up a bunch of shark leaders in advance. During a “hot bite” is no time to make rigs.


Add-Ons: I like to add a rubber skirt for more color and action. Rattles that slide along the cable also help attract sharks and coax them to bite.