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
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
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
Have a question? Email me!