Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
James3shin

Hook, set, no fish!?

Rate this topic

19 posts in this topic

Lately, I've been fishing the Gunpowder river and going after wild Browns. It is extremely rewarding to fool a fish on a fly, especially wild Browns; they are beautiful creatures with amazing color patterns.

 

I've been pretty lucky to get these fish to rise a few times on my dries, but unlucky when it comes to hooking them. I've been reading and researching the internet for ways to increase my hook up percentage. First thing I discovered is to approach these clever fish with stealth so they continue to feed haphazardly, second is the hook set. A lot of people have various opinions and methods it seems to setting the hook, most likely to the various fishing conditions around the world. Well I come from a surf fishing background with spinning reels, large rods, large lures, and big strikes. The fly fishing game is everything and anything the surf game is not, light tackle, light lures, and subtle strikes with a few explosions mixed in.

 

As I said before, I've been getting the fish to rise on my flies so it seems my presentation is transparent to the fish. Terrific right? Not all right, I am still missing the fish! According to the articles I've researched, I have been pulling up on my rod too soon and stripping too late. I guess I'm looking to hit a monster homerun off a burly Striped Bass' fast ball, when the trout are throwing me changeups. Google and the numerous articles on trout fishing indicate that I should be strip striking about 6" of line and forgoing the rod lift.

 

An article written by the venerable Lefty Kreh states that lifting the rod to set the hook takes time. It takes time to overcome the surface tension of the water acting on the line, and to load the rod. The loading of a rod can be an eternity in terms of fish strike time. On the other hand, a quickly timed strip strike does not have to worry about rod loading and depends only on how much slack line is in the water.

 

So I guess what I've come to discover after scouring google is to strip strike. Hopefully, my next trip to the Gunpowder will result in more fish ending up in the net and on camera. Hook, strip-strike, fish? I hope so atleast.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Along with your small strip, move the rod low and away from the current...use the flow of the water and the movement of the rod against it to suck up any slack in the line...those trout only have to have that fly in their maw for a second and they can detect if your offering is a sham.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are a myriad of reason why you may be missing the hookup. I have experienced trout that completely missed the fly, trout that were aborting the take at the last second (but nosed the fly or looked like they were taking the fly), fish that spit the fly out quickly (too slow on the strike), and hook sets where I pulled the fly away too soon. It really depends on the situation. I know that it sounds like a cop out, but do you have any more specifics.

 

As far as Lefty's advice goes, it is right on the money for saltwater, where the fish are fast and the leaders are strong, but unless you are missing strikes because you are too slow, I prefer to have some rod lift during hooksets while trout fishing. The main reason for this is to have the rod tip at an angle to the water so that it can bend some and provide tippet protection. While striper fishing, it is unlikely that you will snap a 20lbs test leader while strip striking, but 6X or 7X leaders are much less forgiving. If you point the rod tip at the fish and strip strike too hard, light tippet will part fairly often. (that or you will yank the fish out of the water - don't laugh I have done this). Back in the day, I was teased by a guide for having a "Billy Pate Tarpon (hook)set". Often times when using very light leaders and very small, sharp hooks, all that you need to is raise the rod tip a little bit to set the hook. With heavier leaders, I like to use a strip strike combined with a little rod tip raising.

 

It doesn't work in every situation, but I learned to set the hook by feel after a nymph fishing trip in the dark. In one state we were allowed to fish until one hour after sunset. Since we were in a canyon, this meant that we fished about 45 minutes in the complete dark. You cast the stonefly nymphs upstream near the shore and tried to take up all of the slack as it appeared. You would wait for the tug on the line, when a fish grabbed the fly and turned. It took a little getting used to because I fished dry flies more often than nymphs, but once learned it paid off. I stopped missing the dry fly takes because of my anticipation of the take. If your problem is striking too soon, some nymph fishing or simply closing your eyes while drifting dry flies through "can't miss" runs may help cure it, but then again, it might not be the problem.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with crashq about the "don't point the tip at the fish and strip strike" thing...however I, personally, try not to raise my rod tip. I think this comes from fishing midges and trico's with 8x tippet...I noticed a couple head thrashes from a rowdy trout would often pop the tippet if the only buffer was the rod tip. I try to keep as much line on the water and let the water/line/rod tip do the hook set and keep tension on the fish for the first few moments of hook up....I don't know if I could even thread a size 32 trico onto tippet anymore??

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

IMO you are seeing refusals, not strikes. Fish rarely miss a fly that they decide to eat. They are telling you that you are close, but not close enough. Try changing the fly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Find that when I am fishing dries for trout, the fish will hook themselves 99 times out of 100. I don't ever strip set a hook when I am fishing dries; a steady but firm raise of the rod tip (you've been mending and removing slack in the line, and your hooks are sharp, yes?) usually does the trick. To illustrate, last time I was out I was fishing in total darkness. I was casting in the sound of rising fish. I would gauge when the fly would be in the strike zone, and if I heard a splash, I would raise the rod tip. How magical to discover a trout on the end of my line.

 

Striking too hard and too early is going to cost you fish, especially when you get in the the sz 20-28 (I don't go any smaller) range. When the fish comes up for the fly, wait a beat, then set the hook. Like anything, it takes practice. But you''ll get it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My vote is with Kross, and my first response would to to change from a dry to an emerger of the same size. If I didn't have one, I'd snip the stem of the front hackle of the one I was using, unwind it and leave it looking bedraggled.

 

Then offer it to the same fish again.

 

What choo got to lose?

 

Cheers,

Jim

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I pretty much concur that the fish are refusing your fly. It's been years since I've been a serious trout fisherman but when I was trout fishing (pretty much on a daily basis) I always used what the saltwater guys called a "trout set," lifting the rod to set the hook. I never found the need to use a strip strike until I changed over to saltwater. Also, your drift may not be as drag free as you may think...it is a lot more critical for dries than for nymph fishing IME.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like picking up the rod and to the side, pulling the rod downstream of the fish. best hooksets for me occur when the fish is slightly upstream and across so the set puts the fly in the corner of the mouth. A hookset on fish downstream of you is often a low percentage game. Mabye it's the fly. I like parachute patterns tied on an emerger/ scud hook. That leaves a big exposed hook bend. That's a great hooking tool. Don't be too quick, let them get it in their mouth. They won't spit a dry as fast as a nymph.

 

Here's the fly and the results:

 

525

 

525

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

James--- there are two different ways to set the hook on freshwater trout. With most trout the advice I gave you and you mentioned earlier is okay. But I live 8 miles from the Gunpowder and these fish are really pounded--even though not so big--and are stream-born browns--and smart!.

 

These are not like fish found in many waters--instead they are offered flies constantly. When presenting your fly--dry or nymph to fish that are pounded frequently the trout learned to EJECT AN ARTIFICIAL ALMOST INSTANTLY.

 

You need to strike instantly--you can't strike too fast. Try this. don't change the rod's position as the fish takes--JUST MAKE A SHARP, BRIEF DOWNWARD SNAP WITH THE ROD HAND!

 

What happens is the rod tip first goes up and then down--try it in your living room. Hold the rod level with the floor and snap down and watch the tip first go up and then down.

 

The other two assets to striking faster this way is you can't break a tippet striking down and with nymphs they only move a short distance in the water column--if it wasn't a fish that stopped your indictor.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
View PostI heart.gif emergers. They are like a nymph/dry combination.

 

 

When you fish emergers, do you gink them up and fish them in the film, or do you fish them like nymphs with an indicator? I have a few emergers but have yet to fish with them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This Lefty guy has caught a fish or two in his life. I'd listen to him. Welcome Lefty. I think that is, in fact, you given the unique hookset advice. I reread Advanced Fly Fishing Techniques every couple months. clapping.gif

 

And yes, that fish is out west- Western South America. smile.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to register here in order to participate.

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.