Best Shark Rigs for Surf Fishing: Top 5 Tested & Reviewed

Kenneth ReavesEdited by: Kenneth Reaves
Michael DarmontReviewed by: Michael Darmont

Last Update:

The Rundown

Best Overall: Lane Leaders Fishing Shark Rig (Click to View)
“The Lane Leaders Rig combines a wire section by the hook for the teeth and a monofilament section to keep the sharks’ bodies from rubbing through it. An ideal choice for any shark angler.”

Best Premium Option: Cardinal Tackle Land Based Shark Rig (Click to View)
“The Cardinal Tackle Rig features a snap swivel to attach your weight, rubber sleeves near the hook to soften the wire on the shark’s teeth, and a blue monofilament that blends in the water.”

Best Budget Option: Fisher Tackle Co. Shark Rig (Click to View)
If you want a leader that can be cast or don’t mind adding your monofilament, then the Fisher Tackle Rig is an ideal option. Get three 480-pound braided wire leaders with 20/0 circle hooks is a great value for the price.”

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Shark fishing is a fascinating and intense style of sport fishing, especially when doing it from the beaches. However, whether you’re using a kayak to drop baits off the beach or casting big baits into the surf, you’ll need the right leader, or you’ll be losing nearly all of the sharks you hook into.

Ideally, you want your leader to have a monofilament section to handle the shark’s rough skin rubbing against it. It absolutely must be made of wire near the hook to keep them from biting you off. You’ll also want to use large circle hooks and have solid connections between pieces of the leader since they’ll go through intense stress.

There are tons of leaders available on the market, but not all of them will let you bring in an apex predator on the beach. So we’ve done the research and will be giving you the best 5 surf fishing shark rigs we could find. We’ll also teach you how to make your leaders and suggest the top-quality tackle you can use. 

Sources researched
8
Sources researched
Customer reviews
12,544
Customer reviews
Hours spent testing
30
Hours spent testing
Products tested
5
Products tested
Our Ranking
Ranked #1
Ranked #2
Ranked #3
Thumbnail
Lane Leaders Fishing XL (18') Shark Rig
Cardinal Tackle Land Based Shark Rig Large
Set of 3 Shark Rigs 20/0 Circle Hook 480lb
Our Grade
Our Rating 94/100
Our Rating 92/100
Our Rating 88/100
Feature 1
18’ length is perfect for nearly any size shark
Rubber sleevers near hook to soften the wire on shark’s teeth
Short length can work for casting
Feature 2
Plenty strong for large sharks
Snap swivel to attach your weight
Set of three is a great value
Best Overall
Our Ranking
Ranked #1
Thumbnail
Lane Leaders Fishing XL (18') Shark Rig
Our Grade
Our Rating 94/100
Feature 1
18’ length is perfect for nearly any size shark
Feature 2
Plenty strong for large sharks
Best Premium Option
Our Ranking
Ranked #2
Thumbnail
Cardinal Tackle Land Based Shark Rig Large
Our Grade
Our Rating 92/100
Feature 1
Rubber sleevers near hook to soften the wire on shark’s teeth
Feature 2
Snap swivel to attach your weight
Best Budget Option
Our Ranking
Ranked #3
Thumbnail
Set of 3 Shark Rigs 20/0 Circle Hook 480lb
Our Grade
Our Rating 88/100
Feature 1
Short length can work for casting
Feature 2
Set of three is a great value

What is a Good Rig for Surf Fishing?

Here’s a shortlist of our top 5 shark rigs for surf fishing you need in your tackle box:

  1. Lane Leaders Fishing Shark Rig
  2. Cardinal Tackle Land Based Shark Rig
  3. Fisher Tackle Co. Shark Rig
  4. End Game Tackle Company Shark Leader
  5. Stainless Steel Fishing Wire

Lane Leaders Fishing Shark Rig

Best Overall Shark Rig: Perfect choice to attach a weight, and you’re ready to fish for sharks.

Lane Leaders Fishing XL (18') Shark Rig
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KEY FEATURES

  • 18 feet length is perfect for nearly any size shark
  • Both heavy wire and monofilament are the best choice
  • Plenty strong for large sharks

The best leaders for sharks combine a wire section by the hook for the teeth and a monofilament section to keep their bodies from rubbing through it. Lane Leaders Fishing Shark Rig is as good as it gets for pre-built shark leaders. It’s a great choice for any shark fishermen, as they’ve considered all the options needed to keep up with the big fish. 

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Leader Specifications

The overall length of the leader is 18 feet, which means it isn’t going to work well at all for casting, but you won’t be most of the time shark fishing anyways. It also means that any sharks under 20 feet in length won’t be rubbing against your mainline.

It comes with a 16/0 Mustad circle hook, 480 pounds 49 strand wire, and 700-pound monofilament. The leader itself is connected well and is plenty strong to handle nearly any shark you could hook into. 

How to Best Use It

The best way to use this leader is to tie on a lead and carry it out yourself with a kayak. The makers of this leader are experienced land-based shark anglers, as all its features are of excellent quality, have the proper strength, and take into account most things that could go wrong.

Cardinal Tackle Land Based Shark Rig

Best Premium Shark Rig: All the features you can ask for in a shark fishing leader.

Cardinal Tackle Land Based Shark Rig Extra Large
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KEY FEATURES

  • Snap swivel to attach your weight
  • Rubber sleeves near the hook to soften the wire on shark’s teeth
  • Length is excellent for any sized shark

Small features can make a big difference when it comes to shark fishing. If they bite down on the wire, they might spit your bait, and attaching weights is a pain. This is why this leader from Cardinal Tackle is an excellent choice for anyone, it’s just as strong as any leader on this list, and it has the additional features to give you the edge.

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Leader Specifications

The overall length of the leader is 20’6’’, with a 5.5’ wire leader and a 15’ monofilament section. This makes it able to handle rubs from sharks up to 20 feet, which is plenty big for surf fishing. The sections are 480-pound cable and 400-pound monofilament, which is also superior strength for handling big sharks.

It comes with an attached 18/0 circle hook, the perfect size for whole fish baits. What makes this leader stand out is the attention to detail, with rubber sleeves to cushion the wire for shark’s teeth, snap swivel for attaching a weight, and blue monofilament to blend into the water.

How to Best Use It

Like our last leader, this one works best when dropped from a kayak. Thanks to its blue monofilament section, it’ll blend into the water you’re fishing. Due to the hook size and strength of components, this leader is best suited for targeting larger bull sharks, tiger sharks, and sandbar sharks.

 Fisher Tackle Co. Shark Rig

Best Budget Shark Rig: A set of three-wire leaders is excellent for medium and small sharks. 

Set of 3 Shark Rigs 20/0 Circle Hook 480lb
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KEY FEATURES

  • Short length can work for casting
  • Heavy-duty wire leader
  • Set of three is a great value

If you want a great leader that can be cast or doesn’t mind adding your monofilament, then this set is for you. Getting three 480-pound braided wire leaders with 20/0 circle hooks is a great value for the price. This set of 3 Shark Rigs wont let you down when it comes to strength.

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Leader Specifications

The leader is 6 feet of braided, 480-pound wire with a 20/0 circle hook attached to the end. Next to the hook, it has rubber sleeves to help cushion the wire on bites, and the wire is braided onto itself to give the most robust possible connection.

How to Best Use It

Depending on what additions you make and how you tie it on, this leader can be cast or dropped by a kayak. It’s excellent for smaller sharks under 7 feet, though the hook is a bit large for sharks under 5 feet. If you’re trying to cast out your bait into the surf, this is a solid option that still lets you handle sharks on a medium to larger size scale. 

End Game Tackle Company Shark Leader

Shortest Powerful Shark Rig: A short, environmentally friendly leader for casting into the surf.

End Game Tackle Company 5' Shark Leader with Non Stainless Inline Circle Hook (15/0)
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KEY FEATURES

  • Non-stainless hook to be wildlife-friendly
  • The short length is a good casting fulcrum
  • The 480-pound test is plenty strong for big fish

A five-foot leader is about as long as you’d want when casting on a surf rod. This one from End Game Tackle gives you a short shark leader that is still plenty strong enough to handle huge fish. It’s a great choice for anglers who prefer casting but still want to target larger sharks. 

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Leader Specifications

At a total length of five feet, this leader is on the shorter side. It comes with a Mustad circle hook attached to it that is non-stainless, perfect for big game fishing, and environmentally friendly since it will rust out if you break off. With a 300-pound barrel swivel, you’ll be able to handle whatever shark takes your bait.

How to Best Use It

This shark fishing rig is short enough to be cast out and a great choice to add a monofilament section. It has a large barrel swivel. Again, you can add a monofilament section, increasing the length and making it ideal for kayak dropping and even larger sharks. 

Stainless Steel Fishing Wire

Best Shark Rig For Casting: Trading off casting distance for a focus on smaller sharks.

unclesportinfof 30 PCS Fishing Wire Leader,19.68'/100Lb Heavy Duty Tooth Proof Stainless Steel Fishing Leader Line with Rolling Swivels Insurance Snap Connect Tackle Lures Rig or Hooks…
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KEY FEATURES

  • Perfect for casting into the surf
  • Strong enough to handle reasonably sized sharks
  • Choose your hook size and lead weight

Even sharks between 3 and 5 feet long are plenty powerful. You’ll still want a wire leader around 100 pound test, and Stainless Steel Fishing Wire leaders fit the bill nicely. They’re one of the best available options for anglers who prefer to use traditional surf fishing gear but want the thrill of fighting sharks on their lines.

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Leader Specifications

These are simple wire leaders, around a 100-pound test with an anti-corrosive coating. You have snap swivels to attach your hook or weight to, as well as a tie-on swivel with the same strength as the wire. In addition, the green color of the coating blends in well in surf environments, making your leaderless visible in the water when surf fishing.

How to Best Use It

These are made to be cast. Of course, you need to scale down your expectations from monster ten and twelve-foot bull sharks or even larger specimens, but these shark fishing rigs are plenty strong enough to handle the adult blacktips and spinner sharks that spend a lot of time in the surf. They’re a ton of fun to catch, and with the right casting distance, you’ll hook into plenty of them.

How to Make Your Own Leaders

While purchasing rigs ready to use is a solid option, you can also make your leaders for shark fishing. You want to do this quite simply because you can experiment and customize your leader to meet your goals. They’re also great leaders for other toothy game fish!

If you want to cast it from a surf rod, you can alter the length and configuration. If you’re going to drop it from a kayak and then sit on the beach, you can do that as well. Customizing your leader sets you up for success for your target fishing style and the size of the shark you’re after.

Materials Needed

Hooks

You should always be using circle hooks for shark fishing. If you end up gut hooking it, you don’t want to reach down a shark’s throat to get your hook back, and cutting off your line on a gut hook can kill the shark.

That being said, match your hook size to the target species and the size you’re after. For example, if you have the gear and want to try huge sharks, a 20/0 circle hook works great. However, you’ll be using big baits and need a big hook to hold onto them. If you’re looking at sharks under 7 feet in length, use a smaller hook like a 12/0 or 10/0 circle hook. They’ll be easier to attach to a castable leader as well. 


Make sure any you purchase is not stainless steel. With this fishing, you’ll likely break off at some point. Using hooks that will rust out of the animal’s mouth is an excellent way to enjoy the sport while conserving the fishery.

For a good strong circle hook, I recommend this one:

Best Overall: Catch All Tackle 20/0 Big Game

Catch All Tackle 20/0 Big Game Black Forged Staight Circle Hooks 10pk Shark & Swordfish
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Leader Materials

For most shark leaders, you’ll need two kinds of lines to form your leader. First, a heavy wire attached to your hook keeps them from biting or chewing through it when they’re hooked. Second, you’ll also usually want a heavy monofilament length running between the wire and your mainline. Sharks have abrasive skin that can rub through light monofilament and braided lines, causing you to lose the fish.

If you’re casting, you can wind the heavy monofilament onto your reel and through your guides to help shorten the length of the leader hanging off your rod tip. Make sure to leave any swivels or knots outside your guide to ensure they don’t get caught while you’re casting. 

Multistrand wires work best, with higher strand counts (around 49) being the toughest to chew through. Try to find the heaviest braided wire you can, at least a 200-pound test. You don’t want to go under 100 pounds for your monofilament, as anything thinner will get rubbed through. For my leaders, I tend to use 600-pound wire and 400-pound monofilament with a 10 to 12-foot length to target large sharks. Keep in mind I’m dropping these off the beach with a kayak instead of casting.

Here’s a great choice in a wire and monofilament for making shark leaders:

Best Overall: 49-Strand Cable Vinyl Coated 7x7 Stainless Steel Kit 

49-Strand Cable Vinyl Coated 7x7 Stainless Steel Kit 30ft 400lb 1.4mm w/10 1.8mm crimps8
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Best Overall: Ande Premium Monofilament Line

Ande Premium Monofilament Line with 200-Pound Test and 0.25-Pound Spool (50-yards), Clear
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Swivels and Crimps

The last things you’ll need are swivels and crimps. The swivels should match the test of the line you choose, while the crimps must just be large enough to get your line through them. Remember that the thicker diameter lines make knot tying difficult and weak, so crimps are a better way to go. You can also braid your wire onto the swivels and hooks to avoid crimps if you choose.

You need the swivels to eliminate line twists and give you a point to tie your mainline onto. Line twist weakens your line’s strength and can cost you fish in the long run. 

Here’s a couple of suggestions for products you can use:

Best Overall: American Fishing Wire Black Ball Bearing Swivels

American Fishing Wire Black Ball Bearing Swivels (50 Pieces), Size 4, 200 Pound Test
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Best Overall: Aluminum Double Barrel Crimp Kit

Aluminum Double Barrel Crimp Kit 50pcs Each 1.5,1.7,2.0,& 2.3mm 200lb-400lb
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Questions & Answers

Do I have to use huge leaders for sharks?

Absolutely not. You can use any wire leader or even a heavy fluorocarbon leader fishing for sharks. You will need to scale down both your bait and expectations of how big a shark you can land. With a 100-pound wire leader, you can catch sharks up to five feet pretty easily, but you’ll need to land them fast to reduce the amount of time they rub against your mainline. 

Regardless of this, in most areas, you will target sharks normally. There are always sharks in the surf zone, especially the smaller younger ones. They’re also feeding on things like squid and shrimp, so you’ll catch plenty of sharks between one and three feet just throwing out typical surf fishing baits.

You can also use regular surf fishing rods and reels for shark fishing. Just be aware they won’t stand up to huge ones.

Is fishing for sharks safe?

Shark fishing is relatively safe. Treat them like any toothy fish and avoid putting your hands into their mouths (duh). Sharks are powerful, even the small ones. Their tail will likely slap you at some point, and it does hurt.

Always remember that sharks can twist around almost to their tail tip to bite. The larger the shark, the harder time they have bending, but the little ones can get all the way around to nip you. When handling sharks, be sure to hold them behind the pectoral fins and at the base of the tail to give you as much control as possible and avoid crushing their gills. Do not try to pick up sharks over four feet. Leave them on the sand for your safety.