How to Set the Hook When Fishing

When it comes to fishing, you have to know how to set the hook if you want to get your mitts on some trophy catch.

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When it comes to fishing, you have to know how to set the hook if you want to get your mitts on some trophy catch.

As simple as it sounds, the act of planting your bait into the jaws of the biting fish varies from one fishing style to the next.

Whether you are fishing with wet flies, dry flies, streamers or nymphs, practice makes perfect.

Table of Contents

When you start, you are going to lose most fish at the moment when you strike or attempt to bait the fish. But as you learn how to play the fish so that it works against the spring of your rod, you are going to see your catch improve.

So how do you set a hook?

After the fish takes the bait, you’ve got to reel it in. Instinctively, you have to react once you feel a pull or a tap in the line. Setting the hook means you are burying the hook into the mouth of the fish

In most cases, one pull of the rod is all it takes, provided your hook is sharp enough. Most people don’t set their hook hard enough; this is good because setting the hook too hard can rip it out of the fish’s mouth, and bang goes your trophy catch. But still, it’s okay to give your hook a couple of good solid pulls.

You only have to move the bait an inch or two to bury the hook into the fish’s mouth. But you have to do so assertively, taking in mind the strength of the tippet and how much slack is in the line. Using too much force may break the leader in case a fine tippet is in use. But that doesn’t mean you get timid and too gentle with the hook. Practice makes perfect, so here are the tips on how to set a hook the right way:

·    When to set the hook?

Before you set the hook, you must be able to distinguish between an actual fish bite, a nibble, and just a bump of the fishing line. Look for tell-tale signs of an actual bite. For example, if the bobber is disappearing entirely underwater or you feel the weight of the fish tug on your fishing line, then the fish has taken the bait. Also, when the fishing line starts moving, then the fish is probably biting.

Veteran fishermen’s advice is that you should wait until you feel the weight of the fish before striking it in. The reason is that some cautious fish tap the line and bait slightly to gauge if it’s worth the risk. Therefore, it is wise to wait for the fish to take the bait before setting the hook.

·    Keep your line taut

You need to keep that line tight with the lure. You want to act quickly once you sense the fish has taken the bait, and a tight line increases the sensitivity, so you feel the weight of the fish tugging on your line. And once the fish has taken the bait into its mouth, it only holds it for a second or two.

So, you have a short time to come tight to the fish before it spits out the bait. Reeling in slack reduces the amount of line between you and your target.

Stand in a better position to set the hook. Stand in a stable position for balance with your knees slightly bend and legs shoulder-width apart. Stay relaxed so that you can react quickly.

·    Get the best fishing hook setup

If you want the best results, use a fishing hook with the best structure. With some hooks, you do not need to strike as they are designed to stick in the mouth of the fish automatically. An example is the circle bait for hooking catfish.

Remember that the more you are familiar with the fish species, and the more practice you do, the better your fishing is going to get.

Setting the Hook

The moment you get that bite is the most fun part of the entire practice of fishing as you get to set the hook, battle that fish in then land it. There are specific hook sets for different techniques. But the basic hookset motion is as follows.

Think of the rod as a hand on a clock and set it at the two or three o’clock position. Then the moment you feel that bite, go from the two-three rod o’clock position using a hard upward sweep up to the 12 o’clock rod position. Twist at the waist to generate enough pressure that is key to driving the hook home.

For effective hookset, reel in slack as you move the fishing line towards the fish. Once you’ve eliminated slack and you begin to feel the weight of the fish, snap the lineup and over your shoulders to the 12 o’clock rod position. Then give your hook a few solid pulls by crank the reel two, three, or four times.

Another way of setting the hook is to lift the hook to one side. You don’t have to snap the rod way over your head, just off to one side if you don’t have stretch to overcome. But you want to do it two or three times. And remember it’s a sharp tug off to one side, not a slow pull. You must here drag coming off your reel. Then keep bending the rod to keep that fish hooked.

How hard do you have to set the hook? This depends on your target. If you are fishing light-biting or soft-mouth species, steady swiping hookset will do the trick. When fishing those hard-mouthed fish, taking a step back to pack extra-punch in the set is wise.

Lastly, you can modify this motion depending on the species, bait, and time. For example, a trout-set involves just a simple, gentle tug and is suitable for small fish. Then there’s a strip-set, when using larger hooks in saltwater situation you impart motion on that fly, making it dart through the water. Ultimately, with more practice, you can customize the basic hookset technique to suit the fish you are trying to catch.