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October 26, 2001

Safe Shark Leadering

Eliminate the need for wrapping line when wiring big fish.

When a big fish panics during wiring, a smooth release is essential - for everyone's safety and to keep from breaking off the fish. There is a right way and a wrong way to wrap leaders around your hand; when mistakes happen, people get hurt and mates get yanked overboard.
I developed this leader system for big fish while running the Mako Express out of Montauk. It gives the mate control while eliminating the need for wraps.
All our shark leaders have a two-part system. The butt end (the end attached to the fishing line) is made from 12 feet of coffee-colored Sevenstrand 400-pound-test cable with an offshore loop, double-crimped around a black ball-bearing swivel, at the top end. At the bottom end, we put a large black ball-bearing corkscrew swivel, also double- crimped. The second part of the leader system is single-strand wire, a little less than 8 feet long, attached to the corkscrew.
The length of the lower wire part of the leader is just right for positioning a fish for a tag or gaff. Grabbing the wire just below the corkscrew with both hands in wet gloves and both fists tight, rather than wrapping the wire around your gloves, makes it possible to hold a very large fish without the swivel pulling through your hands. If the fish isn't ready, it's very simple to effect a safe release. Just open your hands, and leader and line shoot into the water after the fish - no crushed fingers and no unexpected dunking.

- Zac Grossman, Parkland, Florida