View Full Version : Setting the hook?

04-05-2010, 12:17 PM
I am finally starting to get a decent presentation and starting to get a lot more strikes, but haven't been able to get a hook set yet and just scaring the bejesus out of a lot of fish.

Anyone got any good tips for this, I would eventually like to land my first fly fishing fish. :biggrin:

I am trying to be as quick as possible. Not trying to use a lot of force to skyrocket the fly into the trees, but not trying to be hesitant either.

04-05-2010, 02:05 PM
This is a pretty good question. I'm sure a few others will chime in also.

As for myself, I am a right handed caster, so I usually try to wade up the left bank (when looking upstream) whenever possible. This keeps my casting arm out over the water. I also always try to keep the rod below shoulder level when ever casting. Also when I set the hook, sweeping the rod down stream I try to keep the tip below my shoulder. This will help to keep you out of the trees. The last tip I have is to keep as much slack as possible off of the water. If you have a lot of slack, then it will take longer for you to "move the fly" when setting the hook. Hope this helps and tightlines.

David Knapp
04-05-2010, 03:26 PM
First and foremost, you've got to be fast...anticipate the strike. When I wear polarized sunglasses, I often will see fish rising before they actually break the surface so I am almost setting the hook as the fish takes it. Really the only way to do that is to practice a lot so it sounds like you are doing the right thing already...just keep getting out there... In the Smokies, you really don't have to worry about breaking off fish 99% of the time so just set really hard until you get it down. Try to keep the hookset over water because you will have some flying fish if you're setting hard...:rolleyes: The funny thing is that once you get fast enough to fish the Smokies, that fast hookset will cause you to lose fish when you are fishing tailwaters...its just all part of the game...

04-05-2010, 04:19 PM
Like Maurer said, keeping your line out of the water is crucial, not just for setting the hook but also for getting a good drift.

I would recommend focusing on lifting your rod (directly up or downstream or whatever direction is safe) rather than cocking it back by bending your elbow. That will help keep you from whipping your line into trees.

You will also be a bit faster if you hold your line in your free hand and give it a tug at the same time that you lift your rod.

Rog 1
04-05-2010, 04:43 PM
There is a natural instinct to make you want to jerk set the hook as a reflex...as previously said a lot has to do with anticipation....you will come to know where a strike should occur in relation to the water pattern you are fising...you also need to be careful on how you set the hook in relation to the amount of line you have on the water....several years ago my son and I were fishing some of the larger runs below Elkmont on the LR....he was making long casts with my little Orvis one ounce rod...a strong strike had him trying to set the hook with a sideways motion....there was too much line on the water and the irresistable object was too much for that light rod and it snapped....I have always found that merely lifting the rod tip while taking up the slack with the non-rod hand will usually suffice....but...there is always that unsuspected strike that will turn all of us into first day novices with our flies in the rhoddo

old east tn boy
04-05-2010, 06:44 PM
I went down this road last spring when I started fly fishing for trout. Probably through my first dozen trips the fish were basically hooking themselves when I did manage to net them and I was getting really frustrated. Problem is I cannot determine exactly what happened to change my luck but several things seemed to come together at once. First and foremost, anticipating a strike, next keep that slack out of the line and lastly practice, practice, and more practice. Then you get to start nymph fishing!

Jim Casada
04-05-2010, 07:17 PM
Trip--Others have focused on a number of aspects of hook setting, but I'll add my thoughts knowing as I do there will be some repetition of what others have said.
(1) Line control with your off (non-casting) hand is critical. That means taking up line as the fly drifts back towards you so as to have as little slack as possible. It also means using the off hand as a part of the hooksetting motion and even, at times when you are in tight quarters and can't lift the rod tip, doing all of the hook set with the off hand.
(2) The nature of the rod you are using makes a difference. For example, with most modern, fast-action graphites too much "oomph" on the hookset will result in a parting of the ways if the fish is any size at all. Bamboo and especially fiberglass are appreciably more forgiving of harder hooksets.
(3) The length of your cast makes a big difference in the effectiveness of the hookset, with longer casts generally presenting more problems. I have no idea of your casting ability, but on most streams and in most situations in the Park 30 feet is plenty of distance.
(4) Keep in mind that specks frequently "miss" the fly and rainbows often just flip at it rather than actually taking. On the other hand, if a brown of any size goes for a fly, it will get it. What I am saying is that not all misses are a result of angler error.
(5) Time doesn't necessarily heal all, but I can virtually guarantee that with time and experience you will become quicker and more effective. It isn't a matter of age or reflexes as much as it is experience.
(6) When fishing downstream (something I almost never do but some nymph fishermen prefer that approach), your hookest needs to be as vertical as possible. You are, in effect, pulling the fly away from the mouth of the fish rather than into it. That's another good argument, among many others, for fishing upstream.
(7) Taks come in different forms dependingon the situation, how actively fish are feeding, whether or not there is a hatch, and the like. Some days it seems like every fish is hooked deeply; on others you have a lot of fish you just touch.
There's no one answer or magical formula. After 60 plus years I still miss plenty of fish, and I can assure you it isn't a result of poor timing in most cases.
(8) make sure your hook is sharper than sharp. If you can pull it across a thumb nail and it doesn't dig in, you need to give it a few touches of a hook hone.
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)
P. S. I don't know how many of you have fished for cutthroats, and especially Yellowstone cutts, but the first time I did I found I was way too fast. Eventually I started saying to myself 1001 and only then did I set the hook.

04-05-2010, 08:18 PM
Thanks guys, lots to think about and try this coming sunday.

04-05-2010, 09:14 PM
Always keep your line relatively tight by pulling or mending the slack. Then, it is just a natural lift of the rod.

04-06-2010, 10:22 AM
I like to set the hook downstream with the rod parallel to the water for several reasons: 1) trout face the current so a downstream set will usually pull the hook in to their mouth, and not out. 2) If I do miss the strike, the line stays in the water, and I don't end up catching tree squirrels. Also, the line stays in the water, so I'm not scaring the fish with a line that goes zooming over their heads. ;)

04-08-2010, 07:59 PM
Fish as much as possible to get lots of practice!

04-08-2010, 08:17 PM
Here's some tips I've found to be true over the years....

1.) Keep your hook sharp. Hooks are going to hit rocks, trees, etc. If your hook is sharp, fish will usually hook themshelves without much of a major hook set with extremely sharp hook points. A little upward pump of your rod should do it.

2.) If you're fishing dries (or any other fly you can visually locate), don't set the hook the moment the fish takes your fly. Give them just a second to eat the fly and then set the hook. Don't wait too long. 1 Missisippi, 2 Mississippi and then set should be enough.

3.) Use some short of an indicator. I use Thingamabobbers, as they float like a champ and are easy to put on/take off/adjust. If your indicator stops suddenly, set the hook. Don't wait!! When it goes under, the fish has it in it's mouth.

4.) Like others have mentioned, prevent slack line. If there is a lot of slack line on the water, you won't be able to react or even feel a light strike. High sticking your nymph/wet/streamer works well.

04-15-2010, 10:29 PM
All that info's good and helpful. Here are a couple of oddball tips I've picked up myself.

Not sure why this works for me, but I try to "think" with the tip of the rod when setting the hook, rather than the grip. A guide pointed that out to me once when I was getting back into fly fishing, and for whatever reason, it seemed to work for me.

Also, if I find myself missing a bunch of strikes consecutively, I'll go a size smaller in the same pattern, and that seems to help too. Can't recall where I learned that, but it was explained that you might get more "sincere" strikes on a smaller bug.

04-15-2010, 10:45 PM
Thanks cube, going to have to try out the smaller size trick.

These tips did help me a lot as I did land my first trout and then some this past weekend. Very fulfilling to finally pick up one of these guys off a fly rod.

04-17-2010, 03:01 PM
Thanks for all the tips folks! This is stuff us newbies don't hear or read anywhere else. I read these before going to Tremont yesterday. My reactions completely ignored you on the first strike...big strike and line went flying sky high. Fortunately didn't snag any trees, just a tangled line. As the day progressed I got better at it, but the fishing was slow. Practice, practice, practice.