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How to Hook 'em

As most of us came to fly fishing from the world of spinning rods it is only natural that many of the things we learned there should be at least tried, hooking fish is one of them. By now you have learned (hopefully) that you do not cast a fly rod the same as a spinning rod and now it is time to look at how to be more successful at hooking fish using a fly rod.

Although a fly rod seems flexible, you should not lurch backward with the rod on the strike, most likely you will break it. Take things a little easy. Remember too that spinning line stretches like a rubber band, your fly line does not. It is true that you should be a bit more aggressive when you are tossing large flies (bass-bugs, popper's etc.), these are on larger hooks and take a bit of muscle to set the hook properly. But for the most part you are using much smaller and lighter wire hooks than in spinning and they require almost no 'hook setting' at all.

It is often said, "wait for the turn," by this we mean you should wait until you can see the fish turn down after taking a surface fly. This can even hold true if you are using nymphs and can see the color flash of the fish. When you see it, that is when you tighten up the line. The single major problem beginners have is taking the fly away from a fish when they can see the fish rise to it. The adrenalin fires up and we jerk the rod back to 'set the hook.' we all have done it, and many still fight the urge to continue it to this day. Darn it, it's exciting. That's one of the reasons we fly fish.

Beginners often will work their way downstream, using either a dry or a wet type fly. Why not, it's easier to walk with the stream than against it. The casts are ninety degrees off to the side and then we let the fly swing downstream. (A hint here, your line will form a loop between you and the fly as it drifts, try to flip that loop back upstream) When a fish takes your dry fly this way, (fishing downstream) he opens his mouth and lets the fly drop in. It doesn't want to go, it's hooked to your leader and doesn't drop as fast as he is used to. By now though, he has closed his mouth and turned down. You have missed him. (Or he has missed your fly.)

Your best success hooking will be when you have cast upstream and as the fly floats back a fish takes it, this is true whether fishing wet or dry. The chances of hooking a fish in the corner of the mouth (the best place) is far greater. Very often fish hooked downstream will only be hooked in the front of the mouth or lip, these are not as secure as the corner. The fish will have a far better chance of getting off when hooked that way and starts his fight aided by the current pulling with him as well.

Hooking in lakes is a different game. If the fly is dead drifting on the surface, when you see the splash, go ahead and tighten our line. If you can just make it tight by pulling on the line and not lifting the rod, this may keep you from ripping the fly away from the fish in case he misses, something to consider. If you are fishing deep, no problem, you will feel the fish.

Don't forget to sharpen your hooks and keep them sharp! Check the point often, a rock or tree limb can do bad things to it.

As time goes on you will develop the right touch but this may help you getting started. ~ J Castwell

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