Shad Bashing 101

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Warren With A Shad

A Small Shad

Common Name: Shad

Other Names: Elf

Scientific Name: Pomatomus saltatrix

Size: Shad can grow to be 120 cm long with a weight of 14 kg.

Habitat: Shad are mainly found on sandy bottoms in clear water. They are also found close to reefs and rocky ledges where there is foamy water.

Eating Quality: The fresh flesh of a shad is excellent to eat, but not after being frozen so only keep what you can eat.


In this article I’ll be touching on some of the things that have worked well for me over the years to target shad.

Being an avid fly fishermen of both salt water and fresh water I am constantly looking for new challenges and techniques. One of the highlights of the saltwater season is the annual Shad season along our coastline. The kit required is very minimal when fly fishing for Shad, basically your fly rod, I tend to use a 9wt as the shorebreak and sometimes the wind can be a ballache, saltwater reel with either a floating or intermediate line on it and a stripping basket to ensure that your line does not get tangled up around your feet.

The fly selection is entirely up to you, Clousers, Charlies and deceivers work a charm when targeting Shad but truth of the matter is that Shad will take any saltwater fly. It must be noted that Shad have very sharp teeth and will bite through mono very easily most bait fishermen use steel trace when fishing for Shad. Personally I don’t use steel wire as the fly does not look very natural when been stripped through the water. Again a personal choice I’d prefer to use flora carbon and replace it after every couple of fish if it starts to look a bit worn.

The joys of living close to the coast is that it is not very far to drive to be able to catch Shad, in fact you can catch them right off the Durban Beachfront, but at times it is very crowded with the locals so a drive down the South Coast is normally more feasible. I tend to fish off the rocky outcrops as this allows me easier access into deeper water where the bigger fish are lurking and generally it’s not as crowded as is the beach with all the locals.

I fish with an intermediate line and a Shad fly as it has a longer Shank and your tippet does not need replacing as often. Fish into the cleaner deeper water and with a fast and erratic retrieve and you will be pulling Shad out cast for cast when they are on the boil. Bear in mind if you want to take Shad home for the pan there are bag limits and minimum size restrictions.

Important Restrictions

Closed Season: 1st September – 30th November

Bag Limit: 4 Fish per Angler

Size Limit: 30 cm (Total Length)

Shad are great fish to catch and they are very vulnerable to overfishing so it is very important that we stick to the laws and rules of Shad fishing. Remember when the closed seasons are and how the big the fish have to be to be to keep them!

Till then Tight lines!!!

– By Nick Nortje

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