Alopias Vulpinus



Nearshore, Continental Shelf, Inshore, Offshore

500 - 1120 pounds

120" - 240"

Thresher Shark Game Fish Quality Excellent
Thresher Shark Meal Quality Decent
Thresher Shark Fly Fishing Quality Poor

Thresher Shark

Thresher Shark
Also Known As: Thresher Shark, Common Thresher, Fox Shark, Sea Fox, Swiveltail, Thrasher

Thresher Shark (Alopias vulpinus) Fish Description

The Thresher Shark is a popular saltwater gamefish that is mainly found in the open oceans. It is blue-grey in color and it is known for its long tail that can be as long as its body. It is part of the mackerel family, large species of sharks that includes the Great White Shark. 

The thresher shark is a carnivorous fish that feeds on a variety of prey – from smaller fishes like mackerel, bluefish, herring, and needlefish to predatory fishes like the lancetfish. They even eat deep-dwelling fish like the lantern fish. They also feed on invertebrates such as squids and crustaceans like crabs. 


Interesting Facts About the Thresher Shark 

  • They’re a sight to see with their long tails and are known to sometimes leap out of the water.
  • Thresher sharks use their long long tails to whip to stun their prey and then eat them. The whip-like motion is so strong that it is believed to separate oxygen and hydrogen in the water. The estimated force of their attack is 50mph.
  • They are mostly solitary fishes but they would sometimes congregate to prey on schools of fish to increase their hunting chances.


Thresher Shark Size and Speed

The thresher shark is a large apex predator and is prized for its fighting prowess, making it one of the best fish to catch as an angler. They burst at speeds of 30 mph and are estimated to get as big as 20 feet long and weigh 1120 lbs. The average size of this large fish is 16 feet and weighs 510 lbs.


Habitat and Distribution of the Common Thresher Shark

The common thresher shark thrives in the pelagic waters of continental shelves, around 40 - 50 miles away from shore with depths of shallow waters up to 2100 feet but sometimes inshore waters too. They prefer temperatures of 60-70°F.

They are highly migratory species and are scatted around the world. In North America, they migrate from north to south. They can be found in both the western Atlantic and the eastern Pacific oceans. Fishing spots are in the Gulf of California, New York, Vancouver Islands, Washington, Oregon, and as far as the Hawaiian Islands. The best time to catch them in California is during late spring to fall and late summer in Washington.


Fishing Strategies for the Common Thresher Shark

The thresher shark is a rare powerful fish that is sought after by anglers. There are different ways to catch the common thresher shark. The common ways are trolling or cast and reel. Through fish trolling, set the lure to sink between 25-50 feet (use a 16 oz. sinker to get to these depths). Look for bait balls where the shark might be hunting and slowly let your boat drift around 2-4 knots and wait for a bite. You can also fish from inshore via the cast and reel method with the same techniques.

Recommended equipment for this strong fish is a  heavy rod from 12-15 weight and is 7 ½ to 8 feet in length with 50 to 80 lb braid. Thresher sharks have small mouths and teeth despite being large fishes, so use strong 8/0 hooks with 8-10 feet leader of multiple braids to prevent the line from breaking. 

The usual baits for the common thresher sharks are mackerel or sardines. For lures, anglers have had success using marlin lures.