Re: cant get them on the hook?
The actual action of a trout taking a floating item off the surface 'usually' involves the fish rising up to the surface and then returning to the previous holding depth in the channel. This 'action' alone will hook many fish if you merely do as the person who wrote the book has mentioned "calmly raise the rod tip" this will add just the right amount of tension to tighten the hold.
The knee jerk reaction to the visual disturbance on the surface at or near the floating fly is akin to jumping when you either think you've seen a snake or when you actually see one. It takes repeated experiences before the mind learns not to jump at what the eye shows to it. By the time I had became good at the dry fly thing the only fish I "missed" were those who had in fact missed the fly themselves, the rest got hooked when they tried to get away with the loot.
The best advice I can offer is this. When you cast out a fly 'expect' to get a hit, that's why you cast it out there right? This expectation will help to curtail surprise when the grab comes, things you are expecting seldom startle you.