Gearing Up For The Shad Run

Shad can be great quarry for fly rod anglers. Although due to the limited time they occupy Maryland rivers and streams many people miss out on these great fish. The phone at Backwater Angler routinely rings each March as questions about the shad’s whereabouts, gear and locations pour in. Generally we see the shad in good numbers by the second week in April.


Shad, especially Hickory Shad can be caught on three to six weight rods. Lighter rods may limit the ability to present flies to fish in deeper water, as a three can’t handle a short sinking leader like a five weight rod. The larger American Shad, can be found in the Potomac and anglers use rods up to seven weights for these larger shad. Shad can run hard and jump so a good reel will aid in landing these impressive fighters. Sinking leaders, although not necessary will help get the fly down in higher flows, or deeper water. A long leader tapered to 4X-5X with a lightly weighted fly is a standard rig in most streams like Deer Creek.