Mako Sharks on the Fly

Sean Visintainer - 05/16/14

Mako Shark Fly Fishing Rod and Reel. Photo by Michael Visintainer

A bucket list species on the fly rod.

Most people don't realize you can fly fish for sharks. Sharks however are great fly rod game. They are a very visual species to target... they come in close to the boat, crush flies near the surface, can jump at incredible heights out of the water, run like hell, and are just plain-ass scary to see so they get the adrenaline pumping pretty good.

My brother and I were recently down in southern California for some other reasons and decided that it would be worthwhile to cross fly fishing for Mako Sharks off the bucket list since we were already in that neck of the woods. We booked a half-day with shark fly fishing guide Captain Dave Trimble. Dave owns and operates On The Fly Fishing Charters which specializes in Mako Shark fly fishing, as well as other shark species, and fish such as yellowtail, barracuda, bonito, dorado, albacore, the list goes on!

When it comes to shark fishing this is not a species you want to try to target on your own. You are fishing in water that drops off to depths of 4000+ feet, ocean currents, big swells, and... well... with a species that can pretty much eat you if they so choose to! So needless to say you need a guide. Dave is veteran shark fly fishing guide and taught us the basics to finding, hooking, and playing these beast that can reach sizes upwards of 1000+ pounds!! He said he had a few under his belt in the 1000lb range... I can only imagine what that had been like!

We came down on the beginning edge of Mako Shark fishing season, with water temps in the 65 degree range the sharks were just starting to show up and become more active. We had saw one shark in the morning jump out of the water from 500yards away (yes you read that correctly), but did not see any others until late in the day. As the afternoon was progressing a Mako picked up on our chum line and followed it into the boat, giving us a prime shot at casting a fly at him. My brother Mike was on deck first and took the shot. One hour later he was landing his first Mako Shark on the fly rod that weighed in the 85-90lb range... all muscle and teeth.

Dolphins smimming out of Dana Landing San Diego.

Oh did I mention we saw dozens of dolphins, small whales, sea lions, a variety of birds and nobody else around?! We will be back for sure to do this again.

Headed down to San Diego and want to try Mako Shark Fishing for yourself (highly recommended)? Contact Dave Trimble at

Dave Trimmble and his Boat! Chum for the Sharks! Mike casting the 12wt Sage Fly Rod at a Mako Shark. Mike Hooking up with a Short Fin Mako.

One Hour Later!

Mike reeling in the Mako Shark. Dave pulling the Shark closer to the boat. San Diego Short Fin Mako Shark on the Fly. Closeup of the sharks teeth. Mako with a fly out of its mouth. Mike and Dave celebrating!