Setting the Hook

bob3700

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Recently, I have been having issues with fish coming unbuttoned.

Dry fly fishing for bluegill and bass. Fly hits the water, and fish jumps on the fly. Good size splash and I can feel the tug. Lift my rod and nothing. Fly comes sailing back at me.

Good size splash and the fish starts running with the fly and I actually have em on the line. Three to five seconds of running and the fly comes sailing back at me.

Wait longer for the fish to suck the fly in? Not setting fast enough?

Its not like I am not catching fish, it is just that there are ones that get away that feel like they are hooked than then the fly comes sailing back at me.

Frustrating.
 

benpuls98

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That happens to me a lot also. I think that a lot of the time the bluegills never actually get hooked, and instead just hit the fly and hook set or not, you won't connect. I actually tested this once and watched some nice sized gills come up and hit the fly, without pulling it under, to the point that the fly stayed afloat (they weren't foam either). Also, when you feel the fish on, they may just be holding on to the body of the fly and then decide to let go. Not sure what size you are throwing, but it may be advantageous to try dropping down a hook size. With a smaller fly, they may be more apt to eat it fully instead of nibbling.
 

Rip Tide

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Dry flies are light weight and bass tend to whack them hard.
There's a big cushion of water coming up between bass and fly so very often that fly just get pushed out of the way.
On top of that, bass have tough mouths. Little hooks might not penetrate.
For top water bass a size 6 is as small as I go and a size 2 to 1/0 is normal
 

bigjim5589

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Learn to use the strip strike method for setting the hook instead of lifting the rod. I've been doing this for a long time now & it's improved my hook ups. But, with floating flies it's generally best to wait until you feel the tug first before setting the hook.

However, as has already been said, sometimes they simply won't have it in their mouth, so any attempt at setting the hook only pulls it away from them.

Nothing is ever guaranteed! :rolleyes:
 

silver creek

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Check the fly you are see how much of the hook GAP is being narrowed by the body of the fly. For example, see how the body of this popper blocks and narrows the hooking gap.



If you are using a fly like a wooly bugger, another possiblity is that the fish are striking short and grabbing the trailing marabou behind the hook.
 

rangerrich99

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Already a lot of good advice here, so I'll limit myself to one thing. You say in your OP that the fly ends up flying back at you. Besides being a little dangerous, this may indicate that your strike angle needs to be adjusted. Try setting the hook (strip set) to slightly one side (downstream in moving water) and set the hook more than once. At the very least this should keep the fly from flying back at your face.

Also, try to keep the rod tip relatively low, as the higher your tip is at the hook set, the less actual pressure is delivered to the hook point. This can be as little a a couple ounces depending on several factors, such as rod length, rod angle, rod flex, line stretch, length of line, etc.

With bass and that tough bony mouth, you want to be able to deliver as much pressure to that hook as possible, which means keeping the rod low and a solid strip set.

The short version of this would be: rod HIGH=LESS pressure to the hook. Rod LOW=MORE pressure to the hook.

Hope that helps.

Peace.
 

wolfglen

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Check the fly you are see how much of the hook GAP is being narrowed by the body of the fly. For example, see how the body of this popper blocks and narrows the hooking gap.



If you are using a fly like a wooly bugger, another possiblity is that the fish are striking short and grabbing the trailing marabou behind the hook.
I often turn popper bodies on my micro lathe, put them on the hook shank and then feed it through the bandsaw to cut off the lower part which closes the hook gap.
 

cab

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My answers aren't new, maybe I"ll put things another way:

Often fish will just try to drown a bug on the surface, then they actually eat it. I like to keep my tip down, and the end of the flyline in my peripheral vision. Wait until you see the line move, then set the hook.

When you set the hook on those hard- mouthed critters, SET THE HOOK! You gotta yank the taste out of their mouths! A strip set is best, but unnatural for a trout guy. While in AK, I developed a "yank set" that worked well enough. Setting more than once is a good idea, too.

HTH,
CAB
 
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risering50

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All good advice so far, especially about the hook gap of poppers.

ALWAYS wear glasses - No excuses. The more warm water fly fishing you do, the more chances you will get to feel the hook.

Missed strikes/look see's, are all part of the deal thank goodness. Many times you will remember them more than the fish you did catch. Enjoy yourself.
 

wolfglen

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A mention on the strip strike. Learn to use it but remember that's not a cure all.
If you rely on it exclusively you won't hook a lot of fish. If there is slack in your line you won't hook any at all unless the fish is on a kamakazi mission and hooks himself.

It's a matter of conditions. If you are fishing a moving fly with the rod tip at water level and manipulating the fly by hand movement you will hook fish, BUT then the fish is going to bolt dead away from you with no bend in the for for shock absorbing and you will have a broken leader unless you have superman reflexes and let go of the line.

If you do as many people, manipulate the popping bug or streamer with rod twitches you'll have slack in your line and won't get a hook set with a simple strip strike.

Sometimes it's just a simple gentle lift of the rod tip to set a hook and sometimes it takes a combination of rod lift and strip.

Rod strikes usually take the fly away from the fish if he misses it. I like to make a pull and if I feel ressitance, then continue the pull AND lift the rod tip.

That way if the fish misses and I don't feel resistance, the fly is still there for him to make another pass without scaring him. If the strip does connect, I have the rod at a 45 degree or higher angle and there is some shock absorbing ability in the rod.

No method of hook set is right in all situations.
 

bob3700

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Went out this evening with hoppers and the bluegill were everywhere and biting.

I worked on just lifting the rod after the strike and hooked a whole lot of fish. Before, I was coming up on the rod really fast with the strike. I was probably pulling the fly away from the fish.

This time, with a slow rod lift, the success rate for setting the hook was much better. Just have to remember to do that the next time I am out.

Thanks for all the suggestions from everyone.
 

bigspencer

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Except for when you get down to #18 and beyond(#20 is the smallest hook I use..even for smaller patterns)...where a slower "pull" works well, timing is everything..depending on the hardness of the particular fish's mouth you have to gauge the strength of your "set"...but a dull hook can kill everything...no matter what you're doing right....
 

nevadanstig

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Ok, I have never fished fly for bass or bluegill, but pretty experienced with them on conventional tackle. I used to have this problem with topwater, until I went out with a very experienced guide and tournament fisherman. He taught me to cool the nerves, and treat it like fishing any other lure. Wait till you feel the tug. Dont get overly excited and set on the splash. Pretend you are blind while fishing topwater, basically. Its all about feel.

Sent from my SM-T237P using Tapatalk
 

wee hooker

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Learn to use the strip strike method for setting the hook instead of lifting the rod. I've been doing this for a long time now & it's improved my hook ups. But, with floating flies it's generally best to wait until you feel the tug first before setting the hook.

However, as has already been said, sometimes they simply won't have it in their mouth, so any attempt at setting the hook only pulls it away from them.

Nothing is ever guaranteed! :rolleyes:
What Big Jim said! I learned this method when I got into salt water fly fishing (where it is a MUST!) . I will add is that your rod needs to be pointed right down the line at the fish with a minimum of slack for the strip set to work. If teh tip is up and or you have slack in the system, your done. Also, when you lift up on the rod, resist the urge to lift the tip and lift the whole rod. This takes allot of the "spring" out of the set.

p.s. Use the fingernail drag test to check hook sharpness often. When needed, taking a couple of swipes on the hook point with a good file will assure your hook stays sharp. ( Especially on larger flies) It's amazing how quickly a hook can dull in normal use.

hth
 

jjc155

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Don't trout set ie: lift the rod tip. You will pull the fly away/out of the fish mouth almost every time.

Instead strip set the hook. When you feel tension keep your rod tip pointed at the fish/fly and pull in a strip of line with you stripping hand. That will drive the hook home good, then you can raise your rod tip to fight the fish.

Becomes second nature when fishing streamers, poppers and other top water since you are stripping with a low rod tip ( I put mine either on the water surface or under depending on the fly). It takes some getting used to when fishing drys or other dry type flies.

J-
 
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risering50

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Heat wave broke today with drenching thunderstorms. By 4:20 I was at my favorite backwoods pond. Insane action with a Sneaky Pete. Bluegills, Pumpkinseeds and LM Bass. No problem with hook set as long as I was patient.
All were released pronto, no time for photo's, just my "fisherman's" word.

Lots of good Food Fish, but I only take one batch on my last trip of the season. It was a good day. Squirrel huntin' in the morning, then fishin' later on.

It's a tough job, but someone has to do it...

V
 
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