Shark, Thresher

(Alopias vulpinus)

Commonly referred to as Threshers!

The thresher shark is a peculiar looking species of shark that has an extremely long tail which it uses to whip prey, stunning it before feeding. Their wide spread ranging and fussy eating habits have seen the thresher shark elude most anglers over the years leading to the sharks reputation of being incredibly rare. There are in fact three separate species of thresher shark found in the worlds oceans, the common thresher – (Alopias vulpine), the large eyed thresher – (Alopias supercilious) and the smaller, pelagic or fine – tooth thresher – (Alopias pelagicus). Thresher sharks are a fantastic sporting species and are well known for taking to the air in shallow waters.


Thresher sharks can be located from as far south as the Albany right up to the Abrolhos Island region throughout Western Australia and are generally encountered in deeper waters of  100 meters or more although juveniles may be encountered in warm shallow bays.


Thresher sharks are one of the smaller species of shark encountered throughout Australia and generally grow to around 300kg in weight and reach a maximum length of around 7.5meters for males and around 5.5 meters total length for females. A typical size thresher is around 80 – 100kg in most locations with larger fish averaging between 100 – 300kg rarely encountered.


Thresher sharks prefer cooler, deep, continental  waters with depths of around 200 meters or more with large numbers of bait fish or squid present. Juveniles can also be found in shallow bays.


Thresher sharks are easily recognised by the extremely long cordal tail fin which is generally around half the full body length of the shark. They have short pointed heads and are metallic brown to grey in colouration across the back leading down to a whitish under belly. The mouth is small and full of tiny teeth designed for feeding on prey items such as small bait fish and squid. The sharks pectoral fins are also abnormally large.

Taste rating

  • Zero Taste Rating

Thresher sharks are considered to be a top notch game/sport species and should be immediately released upon capture unless claiming for a record!

Sport rating

  • Eighty Sport Rating

 Large thresher sharks are a tough, dogged species of shark that will test even the finest anglers skill!

Tackle requirements

Light to medium lever drag stand up outfits are required for targeting smallish thresher sharks from a boat. They must have large line capacity and high quality drag systems capable of battling large fish in uncomfortable to rough sea conditions. Stand up outfits rated from 10 – 15kg are ideally suited for targeting threshers to 100kg where as 24 – 37kg stand up or game chair outfits may be needed to subdue larger specimens to over 200kg. Wind on leaders of between 200 – 400lb need to be connected to plaited doubles via a cats paw knot and then attached to the bait trace with a quality stainless steel snap swivel or cork screw style snap for heavier 37kg line classes.

Recommended baits, lures and rigs

Thresher sharks will eat a variety of  bait fish such as mullet, mackerel.  They are also quite partial to a feed of squid! All rigs need to be made of wire to prevent bite offs during lengthy battles and hook points should be sharpened for extra penetration. Threshers will occasionally take a trolled skirted lure intended for marlin but generally prefer small, fresh baits such as tuna fillet or squid.

Handy hints and tips

Always use fresh baits and ensure hook points are extra sharp!

Preferred fishing times and tides

Thresher sharks prefer to feed during both day and night around a high or low tide change. Full moons are especially productive!


[What The Fish]