Watchin' For You!

J. Castwell
September 7th, 1998

How to Hook 'em!

You may not need this information now, but someday lets hope you do. For years fly-fishing in Michigan and Montana I had no use for it. This is about how to hook a big fish on a long line. It may be in opposition to all you have learned and practiced for years. At least, it was to me.

For the most part, when you get a hit you lift the rod tip, in some way 'pick-em-up,'or otherwise set the hook. But, when you get onto big water for big fish, raising the rod tip only puts the flimsiest part of your rod against the fish. Sure, it does take some of the slack out, but that is about all. Chances are, it you are using a hook larger than a number 4, you do not have enough pressure with the rod tip to sink the hook into the jaw of a decent fish.

For some time I found myself, when fishing for salmon from waist deep in some ocean tide flat, raising my rod tip and striping line like crazy to set the hook and take up the slack line. The result was often a lost fish. Not hooked. Then I read something about line-striking for big fish. Sorry, I can't give any credit to wherever it was. I don't think the author claimed he had invented it anyhow.

This is about he explained it. After the cast, keep the rod tip low, just above the water, and pointed right at the fly. No appreciable slack. Virtually, as little as possible. Strip line in what ever rhythm and speed appropriate for the fish you are after. If right handed, of course stip line in over your index finger of the rod hand, pulling with the left hand. Keep the rod pointed at the fly; this is critical.

When you feel a 'hit,' do not raise the rod; pull with your left hand. ( I often will give a good fish at least three good pumps). It is like a 'tug-o-war.' That will set the hook. Now, raise the rod. Get the slack under control, hopefully on your reel, and continue to land the fish as usual. You may have to go to some great lengths to break yourself of raising the rod on the strike. One way is to after the cast, put your fly rod under your right arm. Strip line with both hands. You will find plenty of time to grab the rod when a fish hits, after you have given him a 'line-strike'.

I use the under-the-arm method often to reduce the fatigue of casting and holding the rod with the same hand. I think you will find this will increase your percentage of hook-ups and even be a bit more comfortable too.

If you have been in the habit of holding your fly rod to the right while striping in line, you probably pulled the line with your left hand in a fairly open angle relative to your index finger. Moving the rod to in front of you will close this angle some and may put more friction on your finger. You can correct this by making your pulls more to your left and back, rather than straight left.~ JC

Till next week, remember ...

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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