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Setting the hook… or not?

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K.Aarsleff
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat May 16, 2020 11:59 am

Setting the hook… or not?

#1

Post by K.Aarsleff » Sat May 16, 2020 6:43 pm

Hi folks

I'm new around here. Well, not as a reader, but this is my first post.

I have one single question that I keep getting different "answers" to.

"Do you set the hook or not?"

I live in Oslo, Norway. I fish for seatrout in the fjord (stillwater) in the winter and spring and seatrout in the summer. Occasionally i also fish in our rivers for salmon during the summer and early autumn.

When I grew up along the fjord, I was taught by the older guys to yank the rod vertically upwards to set the hook as soon as I felt a fish take the fly. Well, that was back in the last millennia..

Later on in the more recent years I’ve been told something else. Typically one of these statements
- Yank the rod to the side instead of up “It should somehow set the hook better”
- Keep the rod level and do a strip set
- Don’t do anything. Let the fish hook itself

I not sure what to believe anymore and most statements aren’t followed up by an explanation, so now I’m trying to figure it out myself, with your kind help preferably ;)

What do you do in this regard when fishing still waters and why?


Cheers
Ken

Geenomad
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Joined: Tue Aug 06, 2013 10:11 pm
Location: Melbourne

Re: Setting the hook… or not?

#2

Post by Geenomad » Sun May 17, 2020 1:01 am

Hi Ken
I fish impoundments a lot. Like so many things in fly fishing there are no simple rules, some general rules and quite a lot of exceptions.

How I set the hook depends on circumstances. The general rule is to move the rod and set the hook in a direction opposing the direction the fish is moving. Unless the fish has a very hard mouth or your hooks are dull then mostly it is just a matter of tightening the line into the weight of the fish. When they feel the restraint they will bolt and complete the hook set if it hasn't already happened. Tension is your friend. Slack is the enemy.

I almost never yank the rod in any direction to set the hook. An exception might be fishing dries to small fish and testing my reflexes.

In general I lift when fishing to fish in front and moving away from me and/or move the rod to the side when the fish is moving away at an angle or towards me at an angle. Fish moving directly towards you are the trickiest hook set as you tend to pull the hook out of their mouths. Results are improved by striking radically to the side.

I often but not always add a strip set into the mix as the rod is moved away from the fish. The biggest hooks I use are #8 and being chemically sharpened they don't need much force to enter soft tissue - including fingers. Accordingly the strip set contributes to the hook set along with a rod lift. To be clear, by "rod lift" I mean movement from the horizontal to about 45deg (max) by which point it should be fish on and running.

Sometimes fish hook themselves, like smelters or trout feeding aggressively on nymphs and stuff. Sometimes they don't hook themselves. None of my fishing involves circle hooks btw.

Mindset helps with hook set. I aim to be alert to the take, calm in the set. Staying in touch with your flies is a sign of alertness and an aid to calmness by which I mean the take might come as a surprise (or not) but the set should not follow suit. :cool:

HTH.

Cheers
Mark
"The line of beauty is the result of perfect economy." R. W. Emerson.
https://thecuriousflycaster.com

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Paul Arden
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Re: Setting the hook… or not?

#3

Post by Paul Arden » Sun May 17, 2020 9:02 am

This is a good question, Ken, and like many things, I think it depends. Generally if I’m fishing a static fly or a fly drifting freely then I will strike after a suitable delay for the fish to close its mouth. If however I’m retrieving the fly and the fish eats during the retrieve, I’ll let the fish set the hook for me, while continuing the retrieve (in some cases I’ll strip set the hook after the fish has taken the fly properly). For the direction of the strike I usually set sideways opposite the fish travel or vertically more like lifting a shotgun.

I was asked recently why I make this shotgun strike and it may have come about because of my jungle fishing in the last years and the rod angle applying more pressure when pointed close or straight to the fish. But I also do it now with trout fishing and I simply find it a more effective set. But I’m not sure why :cool:

Snakehead is actually a good example of all the above in action. If I’m stripping and the fish eats I wait until the fish is on. Another way of hooking them is to immediately give them slack line, allow them to eat the fly, and strike after 2-3 seconds. I point the rod straight at the fish for maximum force (40lb leader!) and I will give a couple of strip sets to make sure the hook is well set after the first run is halted - and that first run has to be stopped hard and fast!

Welcome to the Board!!!

Cheers, Paul
It's an exploration; bring a flyrod.

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Viking Lars
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Joined: Thu Jan 10, 2013 10:45 am

Re: Setting the hook… or not?

#4

Post by Viking Lars » Sun May 17, 2020 4:11 pm

Hey Ken!

Welcome to te Board.

In your case, flyfishing for trout in stillwater, I generally strip-strike (or simply lift the rod slowly as I feel the weight of the fish on the line). I'll strike by lifting the rod if I see a trout take the fly right after it landed - because in that situation there'll usually be some slack to compensate for.

Lars

K.Aarsleff
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat May 16, 2020 11:59 am

Re: Setting the hook… or not?

#5

Post by K.Aarsleff » Mon May 18, 2020 12:54 pm

Thank you all for taking the time to get back to me ;)

Now I just got to unlearn what I've done for decades :laugh: Well fortunately now is a good time to retrain oneself in setting the hook (without yanking the rod straight upwards) with thousands if not millions of garfish in the fjord...

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Paul Arden
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Re: Setting the hook… or not?

#6

Post by Paul Arden » Tue May 19, 2020 9:40 am

Good luck Ken, it’s very difficult to retrain. I have a very hard one here that I’ve been training myself to do, which is when a snakehead eats a stripped popper is to release the line that I’m stripping, delay a few seconds while the fish eats the fly and then shotgun strike. I know it works because I’ve managed to do it! But stripping the fly out the mouth of the fish is always a problem :D

Maybe you could try holding the rod differently. If your grip is different when the fish eats you might be less inclined for the subconscious to take over.

Cheers, Paul
It's an exploration; bring a flyrod.

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Mangrove Cuckoo
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Re: Setting the hook… or not?

#7

Post by Mangrove Cuckoo » Tue May 19, 2020 11:30 am

Paul Arden wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 9:40 am
Maybe you could try holding the rod differently. If your grip is different when the fish eats you might be less inclined for the subconscious to take over.
Cheers, Paul
Yep... you cannot "trout set" if the rod is not in your hands!

It has become common practice when tarpon fishing to tuck the rod under the arm and then retrieve the flyline with both hands. There are a number of advantages when doing this, but a main one is not being able to unconsciously yank the rod up.
"Technique is the proof of your seriousness"

Wallace Stevens

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