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Shad Fish

Shad Fish for Beginners

The American Shad Fish mainly feed on plankton.  Because of their feeding habits, they have very good eyesight.  Beginner shad anglers make the mistakes of using too heavily of fishing rods, lines, and lures.  Thereby spooking the fishing which leads a disappointing fishing trip.  But once anglers understand the correct fishing gear for shads and when to fish for shads they will have an enjoyable and successful shad fishing trip. 

Shad fishing Gears

One of the biggest mistakes, when beginner anglers fish for shad, is they use heavy fishing gears.  Many use salmon setup and they don’t know why they can’t catch any shads.  They don’t realize is that shads great eyesight and are size sensitive.  An in order to have a successful shad fishing trip beginner angels need to use a light fishing gear.

What is the Best Fishing Rods and Reel for Shad?

Consider most anglers fish from shore for shads the best fishing rod for shad is 9ft-10ft a light to a medium heavy spinning rod.  Usually, a spinning rod with the line weight of 6-12lb or 8lb-15lb and lure weight 1/4 oz – 3/4oz.  Many anglers like to use their steelhead spinning rod.  The spinning rod works best because of windy weather condition baitcasting setup will usually birdnest.  Anglers should factor in lure weight when choosing a rod because shad rig usually has a jig connected to leader line connected to swivel with weight anglers must factor in the weight of the jig the weight on the swivel.  FishingWA recommends the 9ft or 10ft G. Loomis E6x spinning rod in the 6-12lbor 8-17lb line weight.  And for the Budge Friendly Anglers, the Lamiglas Redline series in the same line weight would work great for shad fishing.

A good reel for shad fishing is the Piscifun saltwater spinning reel with the capacity of holding max of 8lb or 10lb mono line.  The Piscifun reels are perfect for shad fishing because they are dependable and extremely affordable.  The saltwater version will give anglers added protection from corrosion. 

Do Not Use heavy Line when Shad Fishing!

The biggest mistake people make when shad fishing is they use a heavy leader line.  Anglers should not use more than and 10lb leader line.  And for the best results, it is recommended anglers should use 6lb or 8lb Fluorocarbon Line leader line.  Because shad have an extremely good eyesight Fluorocarbon Leader Line will be more invisible to shads.  If anglers use a 10lb mono on the reel, they should use an 8lb fluorocarbon leader.  But for the best result use 8lb mono on the reel and 6lb fluorocarbon leader.

Shad Fish Lures

Shad Fish Dart Size
How to choose the right shad dart

Shad Darts

One of the most popular shad lures used by anglers is Shad Darts. It comes in many colors and sizes.  The options can be overwhelming for first time shad anglers.  But if anglers consider in shads diet of planktons, then the chooses of lure colors and lure sizes are a lot simpler.

The most important option in selecting a shad dart is the lure size and weight.  Considering shads primary food is plankton and that shads have very good eyesight, it is important to choose the right lure size.  There are merchants selling shad darts that are 1/2 oz, 3/4 oz, and even 1 oz, but these lures WILL NOT WORK for shad because they are too big.  Shad are size sensitive to lures and because of this, to get the best result from shad fishing, anglers should not use shad dart over 1/4 oz.   The best shad lure size is 1/16 oz and 1/8 oz shad lure.

The second part is the choose the correct lure is the color.  One of the most popular shad dart colors is green with the chartreuse green tip or some combination of green and yellowish-green.  This combination is one of the most effective colors because the colors are similar to the plankton that the shads feed on.  Another old time color strategy for most fish is to use the complimentary color combinations.  These combinations work because the colors stand out when they are by each other. Therefore the shads can easier spot the lure from a longer distance. Some of the best complementary colors for shads are green and red, blue and orange, and purple and yellow.  In conclusion, best shad dart lure is 1/16 oz or 1/8 oz chartreuse dart with a green tip.

Crappie Jig Head as the shad lure?

Crappie Jig for Shad Fishing Lure
Crappie jig head for shad fishing.

For those people who don’t want to buy shad darts a crappie jig head is a good alternative.  A crappie jig head will work, BUT it will not work as well as a shad dart.  Because the shad dart is designed to mimic plankton, where the crappie jig is designed to move like a fish. With that being said, anglers can use a crappie jig for shad fishing lure.

In order to get the best result from using a crappie jig head as a shad lure, there are a few things to consider.  One, keep the jig weight to 1/8 oz to 3/16 oz, this is the optimize lure size for shad fishing.  Second, try to use the flat-headed jig or the longer tube-headed jig instead of the round-headed jig, this will give the jig a sharper movement.  And finally,  use a color jig head.  Even though the silver non-colored jig head will work, for the best result use green and chartreuse color jig head.

The Best Cheap Shad Lure

Cheap Shad Fishing Lure
Green Bead and Red Hook is the best budget-friendly shad fishing lure.

For those frugal anglers who don’t want to spend too much money on shad lure, there is a great option that is not well known but really effective.  It’s a simple hook and bead setup.  In order for this setup to work anglers will need the correct hook and bead.  The first and most important thing is the hook.  It must be RED FISHING HOOK and the size can range from 1 to 1/0.  The bead needs to be green or chartreuse.  Simple tie the leader to hook and run the green fishing bead on the line on top of the hook.

This setup is extremely effective because it has a complimentary color setup, with the green and red fishing hook. And it’s light a move extremely well under water.  Anglers are always amazed that this setup works for shad because it’s a simple bead and hook.  More experienced anglers like this technique because they lose a lot of lures and green beads and hooks are really cheap!

Bonneville Dam Shad Fishing

American Shad is not native to the Pacific North West.  It was introduced to the Pacific Northwest in the 1800s providing residents with new fisheries. Since it’s an introduction, it has become a self-sustaining natural resource. And each year, starting in June, shads make their way up the Columbia River to spawn.  Which provide anglers in Washington and Oregon residents an excellent fishing opportunity.

When to fish for shad at the Bonneville Dam?

During the end of May, the shads start making its way up the Columbia to spawn.  But the number is low during this time.  So anglers should wait until June to start fishing for shad on the Columbia.  Years ago, Bonneville Dam had a live fish camera streaming feed but it has since been removed.  But anglers can still have access to the Bonneville fish count. Below is the Bonneville Daily fishing count number.  The fish count below will be updated daily and will include Chinook Adult, Chinook Jack, Steelhead, Unclipped Steelhead, Shad, and Lamprey. Next each species names will be the count.  With the daily Bonneville fish count, anglers will have the necessary information when to go shad fishing at the Bonneville Dam. 

One of the biggest mistake beginners fishermen make is they go too early or late to the Bonneville Dam!  They see the shad fish count and it’s 6000, 8000, or even 10,000, and they head to the Dam to fish.  Then they quickly realize that there are hardly any fishing.  In order to have a successful shad fishing trip, the shad fish count needs to be above at least 50,000 a day.  This might seem like a high number but considering the size of the Columbia River, the daily shad count needs to be well over 50k fish per day.  A good number is when it’s over 100k. 

One thought on “Shad Fish

  • October 14, 2019 at 6:15 pm
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    what size hook is recommended for the shad darts?

    Reply

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