Re: Discerning a strike from the bottom
In my opinion, most fly fishermen over-set the hook on trout, pan fish, etc...most freshwater fish other than largemouth bass and other hard-mouthed fish where a strip-set is the right way to go. So I'll give you 2 pieces of advice.
You should not be trying to detect the difference. You should be setting the hook any time you see an irregularity in the line/indicator activity.
But setting the hook deserves some attention.
Ever hooked yourself? Did it require much force? If your hook point is properly sharp, it will dig into your fingernail easily. The only thing required to penetrate your skin or waders or shirt is that all of the slack is removed from the line, right? Even the slightest tension applied to the line will cause the hook point to penetrate soft tissue.
In casting and fishing, slack is the enemy!
Keep slack to the absolute minimum to achieve the dead drift at all times...if you're dead drifting. If not, then you have no problem here. You should have any slack...period. Any time the indicator/line disposition changes even slightly, simply lift the rod tip enough to apply the lightest tension for a second. If it's a fish, you'll feel it! If not, drop the tip and mend to creat a bit of slack. The fly will almost always loose itself from the bottom using this technique if you have your depth right: just barely ticking along the bottom now and then. Also, you'll find that if you use unweighted flies and a piece of split shot about a foot above the fly instead of weighted flies you get a lot less hang-ups on the bottom!