Fly fishing for shark, part 1, featuring Hardy Tackle
Fly fishing for shark, part 1, featuring Hardy Tackle
Many years ago I talked at length with my old mate Sid Kennedy about the possibilities of targeting Shark on the fly in Ireland.
We planned how we could go about it, but as each season approached something cropped up and our plans were scuppered. We always ended up finding exciting angling elsewhere in Ireland, and the Shark-fly project ended up on the back burner.
Since those early days, we were beaten to it by the lads on the West Coast, but Sid took a shot at it in my absence and fulfilled our idea to the full, hooking and landing a decent Blue Shark on a home-tied creation, see the video at this link (http://www.angling-ireland.com/blue_shark_on_the_fly).
So this summer, providing there are no more spanners in the works, I aim to tick the “shark on the fly” box, and the planning has already been put into motion, by securing a suitable fly rod and reel that’s up for the job. When I say “up for the job”, I mean equipment capable of bullying a sizeable toothy predator to the boat. Most fly reels I have looked at won’t “lock-up” the drag sufficiently, and if they do, are un-able to sustain the pressure over long periods of time. I needed something tough and reliable, that would shorten rather than prolong the battle, and not burn out the drag washers!
The new Hardy Fortuna XDS, tough, light and reliable
I paid a visit to see my mate David Wilson, top angling agent in Ireland for Pure Fishing, that also encompasses the famous Hardy brand, and explained my dilemma. He suggested I take a look at the Hardy Fortuna range of reels, especially the new Fortuna XDS released this year (2017).
As you would expect from the Hardy stable, this is typically a stunning reel, and built to the highest standards of quality and reliability. Designed especially for saltwater use, the new XDS is now lighter than its predecessor, but maintaining strength, with a colour coded drag control, captive spool release and a sustainable drag pressure of 30lbs! I had found my reel. I decided to use Berkley Whiplash Crystal 65lbs b/s as a backing line, and the spool took the full 660 yards with room to spare! This will allow room for 40-50 yards of 200lb mono (rubbing trace) for the shark trip. Obviously for Pike or Pollack or similar, the size ten would easily suffice. Not having targeted sharks on the fly, I want plenty of room for manoeuvre!
Colour coded drag system
Huge capacity for backing line! 660 yards of 65lb Berkley Whiplash Crystal Braid, plus fly line and spool still un-filled!
I just happened to mention “it’s a pity they don’t make a matching rod”, and he immediately guided me towards the Hardy Zephrus SWS. (Salt Water Series). Until now, I was unaware of this blank, or the new Sintrix Technology that’s incorporated into it, but according to David, these rods are lighter, stronger, and basically un-breakable. The range is comprehensive, all 9’ from a #6 right up to #12. The twelve-weight is so light and refined, it initially doesn’t feel like a shark suppressor, but put a line through it and the fast action design and back-bone is more than evident, I had now found my matching rod!
Ferrule bungs to protect the female ferrules, and handy dots for quick rod alignment
Black pearl recoil guides
Un-able to wait for the shark season, I felt it imperative to give the Hardy combo a test run. I had missed the local Pike season by a few months, but what better way to test a new fly rod than against the wrist busting dives of a powerful Pollack? Past experiences with this species has often left me licking my wounds. I have landed many Pollack on the fly over the years, with varying degrees of success, the largest to date, a mere five and a half pounds. Yes, I’ve hooked larger, but the result has always been the same, Pollack runs to ground and eventually breaks free. On one occasion, a feisty fish actually snapped my adapted pike fly rod into four pieces, a rod that had previously landed Pike to over twenty pounds! This demonstrates the huge turn of speed and power this species is capable of.
First fish on the Hardy Kit, a small but very welcome Pollack
My angling bud Glenn Drennan recently suggested a few hours on his lough boat, targeting some in-shore reef marks, to gain some confidence at sea, and this was the perfect opportunity for a tackle test run. We cast a few lead heads and lures around over in-shore shallow reefs, and finally found a fish holding mark, and set up the fly rods.
The turbulent waters of Strangford Lough, perfect pollack territory
Fast sinking lines are a must, with home-tied fry and sandeel imitations, heavily leaded to beat the density of salt water and get down to the kelp beds below. It wasn’t long before the Pollack obliged, with impressive wrist-wrenching takes, even from the smaller two or three-pound stamp of fish.
Bigger stamp of fish put the gear through its paces, power in this rod is awesome
Then a take that tested the Zephrus to the max! I leaned in and held fast and let the power of the blank do its job. Lesser rods would have smashed against such force, but the fish relented, failing to find safety in the kelp forest below. As I slid a fit looking six-pounder over the rim of the landing net, I reflected on how well this rod out-matched the quarry, a good omen for future shark encounters I hope, not to mention a personal best on my first test run! Watch out for my future trips, hopefully up against larger and toothier prey!
This six pounder gave a great account, but no match for the Zephrus
This kit is pricey, but then it is top drawer tackle. The rod also comes, as you would expect from Hardy, with a life-time warranty, so the back-up support is there throughout. I won’t pretend to fully understand the new Sintrix technology, but from this initial test run, Hardy have produced an extremely powerful rod, yet light and refined, and easy to cast. Never mind the sharks, I can’t wait to chase and tempt my old favourite, Esox Lucius, through the winter months!
The Zephrus SWS. (What Hardy say about this rod)
Whatever you chase from Permit to Pollack and every species in-between there is absolutely no room in the salt for anything other than an absolute game changer.
Zephrus SWS with Sintrix 440 technology takes the multi award-winning , record breaking Proaxis blank design to the next level of salt water evolution. More feel, more power, more strength, more refinement and even more of a match for the ultimate fly rod challenge, pick one up and change your game for good.
- Sintrix 440 blank construction
- REC black pearl recoil guides
- Fast action blank design
- Bar stock 6061 aluminium and triaial carbon spacers on selected models
- Supplied in a custom aluminium tube with engraved end caps
This particular rod retails at £629
Another safely landed!
The Fortuna XDS Fly Reel. (What Hardy say about this reel)
With all the legendary strength of the original Fortuna series, the new Fortuna XDS offers the same salt water reliability and brute strength of its predecessor in a new light weight design.
- Reduced weight design
- 340 degree colour coded drag control
- Captive spool release
- Class leading drag pressure up to 30lb
This reel retails at £699
What is Sintrix Technology?
All carbon rods utilise carbon fibres that are bonded together by an adhesive resin. The resin material used in Sintrix is produced by 3M, it is a unique and patented material incorporating silica nano spheres which provides two distinct benefits.
Firstly, the microscopic silica spheres are able to evenly surround every individual carbon fibre filament providing a matrix of strength throughout the rod. Secondly, being spherical, the silica particles are able to resist pressure and compression from any angle. This is particularly important because it is under compression forces, on the underside of a bent rod, rather than tension forces on the outside of a curve, that carbon fibre is most likely to weaken and potentially break. So, by resisting compression better, Sintrix rods are stronger.
In developing Sintrix, specialist composite engineers and rod designers spent over two years experimenting with different types, and mixes, of carbon fibres combined with varying levels of 3M nano silica resin. They also discovered that the normal manufacturing processes associated with carbon fibre rods had to be significantly changed in order to get the best from the new 3M resin material. The final results were astonishing with up to 60% increases in strength and up to 30% savings in weight!
Angling is all about memories, and enjoyable angling with quality balanced tackle.
Fish responsibly, handle fish carefully, return your catch