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Hook Set....How Hard?

Hook Set....How Hard?

Postby cbuhl » Tue Dec 27, 2011 6:25 pm

I'm starting to think that the majority of fish I've caught may have actually set the hook themselves. Lately I've been after smaller brookies, and in the last two outings, I didn't manage getting one in the net. Naturally some were just plain missed, but others were on for a few seconds before letting go. I've changed flies and made sure to keep the rod tip high, but it seems that the hook won't set.

So, how much force does everyone use to properly set the hook, and also, does direction make a difference?...straight up or a little to the side, etc. I've yanked the hook right out of a few mouths.

I am using barbless hooks or at least pinch them before fishing.

Chuck
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Re: Hook Set....How Hard?

Postby CM_Stewart » Tue Dec 27, 2011 7:28 pm

If you are fishing unweighted flies and thus don't have to move a lot of line and overcome resistance from the fly and line being deep underwater, it takes almost no force at all. Consider the size of a small brookie's mouth. You can't possibly have to move the hook even one inch to set it. You are probably moving your rod tip several feet.

With your rod tip high and as much of your line as possible off the water, you don't have to do much more than just tighten the line. Your strike doesn't have to be at all hard or a large movement, but it does have to be quick.

You may be striking too slowly (small brookies are incredibly fast) and the hook may just barely be catching a bit of skin on the lip before ripping out. I would be willing to bet, though, since they are on for a few seconds, that the biggest problem is that you are fishing barbless (pinched barb) hooks.

I have had the exact same experience (although with small wild browns as opposed to brookies). I cannot strike gently enough to not pull the fish out of the water or at least up to the surface. This is not a problem with larger fish, but 5" fish just don't weigh enough to not get pulled towards you. Immediately after that happens, there is a bit of slack in the line, and they wriggle free.

Lots of people on the 'net claim that they don't lose any more fish when fishing barbless hooks. All I can say is they aren't fishing for 5" wild fish.

The barbless hook designs that have come out of competitive fly fishing are quite different than normal hooks with the barb pinched. They tend to have very long points and some have a little bend right at the point, specifically to reduce the problem of small fish coming off a barbless hook. If you want to (or have to) fish barbless hooks, and your target fish are small, you might consider some of the hooks used by competitive fishermen.

On the other hand, you may want to just fish barbed hooks if you are allowed to. There is an interesting thread on a UK forum about barbless hooks. http://www.flyforums.co.uk/trout-grayli ... oints.html One of the members posted links to a couple scientific studies that suggest that there is no statistical difference to the health of the overall fishery from using barbed or barbless hooks. Quoting a line from a study conducted by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game "Because natural mortality rates for wild trout in streams commonly range from 30% to 65% annually, a 0.3% mean difference in hooking mortality for the two hook types is irrelevant at the population level, even when fish are subject to repeated capture."
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Re: Hook Set....How Hard?

Postby narcodog » Tue Dec 27, 2011 8:20 pm

When I first started fishing with my Ayu I missed a number of fish. It just took a little while to get the right feel for the rod. After that my catch rate went up. As a side note I use de-barbed hooks no matter what I'm fishing.
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Re: Hook Set....How Hard?

Postby Stan Wright » Tue Dec 27, 2011 10:06 pm

:D
My only trout fishing experience was on a drift boat in Montana... I was missing almost all my strikes. The guide said I needed to set the hook hard and quick... not just lift the rod. (like I'm use to doing with peacock bass) he suggested I pretend to be making a back cast. I started hooking a lot more fish.
Why let the truth stand in the way of a good fish story.
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Re: Hook Set....How Hard?

Postby CM_Stewart » Wed Dec 28, 2011 7:06 am

I will certainly agree with quick.

I would agree with hard if you had a floating fly line sitting on (stuck in) the water's surface and some type of floating indicator causing a hinge between you and the fly, resulting in a lot of slack line that has to get taken up and pulled against the resistance of the water, which is the general situation faced by a river guide in Montana.

I've seen a rod break on a hard strike. I've read about a rod breaking on a hard strike (that turned out to be a snag rather than a fish). If there's no slack in the line and almost no line that has to get pulled against the resistance of the water, the strike does not have to be hard.

The guide has a point, though, in comparing it to starting a new cast. Think of the difference in the force you have to use to start a cast when you have no line in the water compared to when you have all your line in the water.
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Re: Hook Set....How Hard?

Postby Eddie » Wed Dec 28, 2011 7:07 am

I wrote a long story, but it has disappeared because it took too much time to write.

The bottom line is that the left hook in the picture has a high catch rate because the direction of the hooking force and the direction of the point is the same.

Eddie
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Re: Hook Set....How Hard?

Postby CM_Stewart » Wed Dec 28, 2011 7:18 am

Eddie wrote:I wrote a long story, but it has disappeared because it took too much time to write.


I hate it when that happens (and other forums are much worse than this one). If it takes me a long time to write a post I always copy it to the clipboard first, and usually then have to log in again to paste it into a new reply.

Eddie, what model is the hook on the left? It is a nice looking hook. There is a recent thread on eyeless hooks were someone wants hooks that aren't blue (like the Gamakatsu Amago hooks I have).
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Re: Hook Set....How Hard?

Postby Anthony » Wed Dec 28, 2011 8:37 am

I generally fish upstream unweighted wet flies and try to keep contact with the fly (czech nymph style). Also add movement sometimes - and fishing this way strike detection and hook-ups seem to "happen" on their own. I think Chris has the right of it - those fish take the fly and spit it out often faster than you can react. So keeping a "tension" on the fly at all times and "leading" it downstream helps- also taken from euro-nymphing is the idea of setting the hook often. It's sometimes hard to know exactly where the fly is - but I try to do hook-sets periodically when I think the fly is in the sweet-spot and often find a fish on the end of the line.

I fished to a pod of dolly varden this summer with an egg fly - I could see the fish, I could see the fly, but I couldn't hook them. They would suck it in and spit it out just that fast. The only way to hook them was to "jig" the fly and hope that I was "jigging" when one was biting. If I didn't see the fish I would never have know I was getting strikes.

Also - and this is only my opinion - I think "chewier" flies are held onto longer than hard flies, thus giving the angler a small margin. This may be in my head but I know I'm not the only angler to think this. The various killer bug flies, walt's worm, hare's ears, etc, have a toothsome quality that I think helps fool the fish a bit. I know fish (especially smaller ones) constantly suck in bits of detritus, then spit them out again - so they're looking and testing and maybe a fly with a little chewy softness is taken as food and a harder fly is spit out as detritus.

It all happens sort of intuitively and I know for myself, especially after a lay-off there is an adjustment and I lose fish at first and then start hooking them, if I'm on a multi-day trip my fish landing goes up and up as the time goes on.

I know I didn't answer the question directly - but there you have my two cents.

Also on barbless vs. barbed hooks - I must have read the same research as Chris. And though it is at first counter-intuitive it makes a lot of sense. If natural mortality is 30% say and the stream is healthy, then each fish killed has a replacement waiting in the ranks. To affect the mortality the number of fish killed by C&R fisherman would have to approach that kind of percentage - it is not additive per se. So the small percentage in mortality between barbed and barbless hooks is in fact not only insignificant to begin with, but in reality, regarding overall mortality, it is probably not even actually realized in the final tally.

That said - I do hate when I have a tough release on a large fish because of a barb, but I don't find that happening very often at all, usually a twist with the hemostats is all it takes.
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Re: Hook Set....How Hard?

Postby CM_Stewart » Wed Dec 28, 2011 9:00 am

Anthony wrote:I fished to a pod of dolly varden this summer with an egg fly - I could see the fish, I could see the fly, but I couldn't hook them. They would suck it in and spit it out just that fast.


A very similar thing happened to me. I was fishing a bright pink san juan worm (this was before I learned about kebari or killer bugs) and could easily see it in low clear water. I had hits from four different fish in the space of maybe six seconds. I was so surprised by the speed with which the first fish spit out the hook that I didn't even react to the following three. The line didn't even twitch.

I think one of the (heretofore unmentioned) secrets behind the success of the killer bug is that the loose fibers of the yarn act like velcro loops and the teeth trout have on their tongue act like velcro hooks. I think a killer bug is harder for them to spit out. I think I once read that Gary LaFontaine felt the same way about his deep sparkle pupa but was a bit embarrassed by it and didn't really want to talk about it.
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Re: Hook Set....How Hard?

Postby Anthony » Wed Dec 28, 2011 9:09 am

:lol: Chris I hear you - two words "Sucker spawn" . Those flies are like fish velcro! I'm positive that's why they work so well.
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