Thresher Shark Fishing

Thresher Shark Fishing

Thresher Shark

Thresher Shark
  • Size 10 to 16ft
  • Food Value Average
  • Game Qualities Good
  • Habitats Nearshore, Offshore

(Alopias vulpinus)

Threshers are probably the most recognizable of all sharks - their elongated upper tail lobe sets them apart immediately and grants them the nickname "Fox sharks". These fish are fantastic fighters, (said to be top game besides Makos) and are harvested commercially for diverse purposes.

Threshers are not highly aggressive by nature, as their low attack stats can attest to. They also have some of the smallest (albeit razor-sharp) teeth that can be found in sharks, which causes them not to go after larger prey like humans or boats. However, they will attack if provoked.

There are three confirmed species:

  • Bigeye (Alopias superciliosus) - as their name indicates, they have enormous eyes to help them hunt in depths of up to 3000ft which they inhabit;
  • Pelagic (Alopias pelagicus) - the smallest of the three, reaching only up to 10ft and not appearing in the Atlantic Ocean;
  • Common (Alopias vulpinus) - the largest and most widely present Thresher.

All three boast the remarkably evolved tail, which is commonly as long as the rest of the body and serves for herding prey into spherical clusters and stunning/injuring it with heavy blows. All three are also considered vulnerable due to overfishing, as they are hunted commercially for their meat, fins, skin and liver oil.

The Bigeye and Common Thresher are among the rare endothermic shark species that are able to tolerate cold water temperatures of large latitudes and depths.

How big

The Common Thresher, which is most frequently caught, reaches a normal length of 10 to 16ft and a weight of 500 to 700lbs. They are able to grow to some 20ft and over 1100lbs.

When & Where

Small Thresher Shark on a fishing charter boatBeing tolerant of low temperatures enables these sharks to span most of the globe. Common Threshers can be found in tropical and temperate to cool waters of oceans worldwide, migrating away from the equator during summer and towards it during winter. They are a pelagic species that occurs as deep as 1800ft, but are known to come in close to land.

In the western Atlantic, they range from Newfoundland to and within the Gulf of Mexico, while the eastern Pacific coast hosts them from British Columbia to Chile, including the Gulf of California. They are off all eastern Atlantic coasts except from Ghana to Angola and can be found throughout the coasts and islands of the Indo-Pacific.

How to catch

Like with other species of sharks, chumming is the way to attract them to the boat. Chum should be as bloody and oily as possible and adding animal blood acquired from a butcher shop/slaughterhouse will be helpful.

Fishing for Threshers can be dony by trolling or drifting live bait such as Yellowtail, Snapper, anchovies or mullet, but skirt lures used for Marlin and Tuna trolling have been proven effective as well. Due to their attacking mechanism, Threshers often get their tail hooked when hitting the bait, which can make the fight much poorer. For this reason, letting the bait sink after feeling it get hit by the tail will cause the shark to gulp it down, as if it were prey.

Threshers are highly rated as a game species and are known for intense runs and high aerial leaps. Their tail makes them powerful swimmers and hard hitters as well, so caution is needed if boating these beasts, as they can cause serious damage and harm with it.

Good to eat?

Fair, but their flesh is more often used as chum for other sharks.



  • Season - always open;
  • Size limit - 54'' FL minimum, except for Texas, where its 64'' TL minimum;
  • Bag limit - 1 per boat per day, except for Florida, where it's 1 per angler or 2 per boat per day and California, where it's 2 per angler;
         Mexico allows keeping 1 shark, which counts as half of the normal daily limit of 10 fish;

        * Limits only apply to Common Thresher; harvest and possession of Bigeye Thresher in Atlantic waters is prohibited.

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