The largest shark ever caught in British waters was landed recently - with a rod designed and built in Selkirk.
The 380lb porbeagle shark was caught by Tim Westcott and David Wolsoncroft-Dodds off the coast of Cornwall in May, using a custom fly rod built by Bloke Fly Rods in Selkirk.
It is also the biggest fish to be recorded caught with a fly rod in British waters.
Selkirk’s Mick Bell, who designed and built the rod that landed the monster fish, told the Southern this week how the record was broken.
“I’ve known David for a long time,” he said.
“He used to come up to Scotland, for salmon fishing, and then he got interested in fly fishing for pike - which isn’t the most common way of doing that.
“After that, he wanted to try his hand at landing sharks, again flay fishing for them.
“I met him at an exhibition and he told that his rods just weren’t powerful enough for anything bigger than pike - at one point he had broken six rods and hadn’t landed a single shark.
“So, I messed around with some special carbon fibres and some designs, and started testing the rod, basically by attaching really heavy things to it.
“I had it so it could successfully land weights of 200lbs, which was the previous record weight for a shark, and then I gave a prototype, the Bloke Sharkmaster 18wt, to David.
“He got back to me saying he had landed what he called this ‘Jawsome’ record.”
Fly fishing for shark entails leaving a trail of ‘rubby-dubby’, a mixture of things like calves’ tongues, blood and offal. This creates a slick of blood on the water, which attracts sharks.
Anglers can then cast their flies, “the size of shoes” according to Mick, which mimic prey.
The ironic thing, Mick went on, is that David is sponsored by another rodmaker, SAGE.
“When he had to tell them he’d managed to land a shark with a rod from Selkirk, they had no idea where that was, they asked ‘Selkirk...in Manitoba?’
“This just proves the quality of our rods and demonstrates the fact that fishermen don’t need to pay double the price for an American fly rod.”
The market agrees with Mick. He now has a four month waiting list for his rods.
The porbeagle record is just the latest in heavyweight fish landed with Mick’s rods. The heaviest yellow fin tuna and the heaviest wahoo were also taken in with his equipment, and the next species targeted is the marlin, which is “more of a fighter” than the porbeagle.
The shark was returned to the sea unharmed after being weighed.