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Hook set

3492 Views 15 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  merc1997
I was fishing yesterday and got to noticing every time my buddy would set the hook he would raise the rod sraight up in the air. I don't use this method I like to sweep my rod to the side which got me to thinking am I doing this right? What do other people do. So my question is a poll I guess which hook set do you prefer and why. I'll go first.
I like to sweep to the side because of the srtetch in the line on a long cast. I feel that I can achieve a better hook set this way because you can move more line than the straight up method. I also think this moves the hook to the corner of the mouth giving a better hook up.
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Swinging the rod to set the hook, when the line is more than 30 feet from the boat is marginal at best. Moving the rod tip from a position say at 3 o'clock to a position of 12 o'clock or 90 degrees, only moves the lure maybe a foot. The small movement does not load up the line, let alone the hooks into the fishes mouth. Try this; have someone hold your rod and walk off 50 feet of line with your lure tied on. Now place a block of wood against the hook point and hold the wood block. Ask your friend to set the hook by lifting the rod back as you would seeting the hook. If you feel the block move slightly it was because the line was tight, however the hook point will not have pentrated the wood surface. In fact you can hold the lure in your hand, I just don't want to be responsible for an accident. Now repeat the same exercise by cranking the reel handle about 3 quick turns and sweep the rod back. You better duck, because that wood block is about to fly out of your hand. The hook point will be berried into the block if the line doesn't break first. That is how you set a hook" Reel the slack out to tighten the line and sweep the rod back. Each turn of the reel handle moves the line between 20 to 27 inches depending on the ratio and reel size, 3 turns is at least 5 feet.
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If youve ever seen the SENKO video that Gary Yamamoto did , thats similar to what I do. I cant say im a ' cross their eyes ' hooksetter. ( Most of the time I am fishing fairly close and 99% of the time im useing a MH or H rod )

I feel the rod load-up then I drop the tip some and snap my wrists up with the rod ( on soft plastics )

I guess on top-water or cranks I feel the rod load and I drop( or sweep it down ) the rod tip and keep it down while reeling in.
There are a bunch of variables involved in type of hooksetting. I won't try to answer this in one post, but will share the bare basics of what I do.

On the tip-off in a basketball gamer the guy with the best body position has the advantage. So does the angler. If your right hand is on the rod handle, try putting left foot slightly ahead of right foot. When the left foot steps back in the hookset your body remains straight. Avoid twisting or back-bending. You will fish many extra years. Get the whole body involved. It's a little like martial arts. Sweep your body rather than stand and bend. On a straight up swing, step the left foot back while arms are raising the rod. You will deliver a lot more power. When sweeping it sideways, swing the left foot back, keeping body straight. Your body weight will work with arm strength. It's about the same principle as when swinging a baseball bat. You don't stand flat footed just swinging with arms. Your whole body goes into the swing.

Mostly I set from reeling the rod tip down to the bait, then swinging upwards, but WHILE stepping back a foot or two, right foot staying put. That speeds up taking up slack.

With topwater lures wait until the line straightens out (loads up)

With jigs respond quickly and firmly at the the slightest sign of something different.  A jig is easily spit out in 1/20 of a second. I haven't done well taking time reeling down before a rod snap, so I keep the rod tip low to begin with, aimed at the jig, line kept tight to maintain constant jig contact.

With a drop shot just start reeling and slightly raising the rod.

With a crankbait set hard when it stops wiggling, or you get the holy grail bite, a big tug. Ignore taps. The bass is likely swatting the lure. Let him take it on a full commitment. I use a fairly soft glass rod that allows a firm set without tearing a hook out, yet keeps the line from going slack. A stiff rod makes it much tougher to always keep a tight line. Let a crankbait get just a little slack and it will come off. It's a matter of leverage, most of the lure able to pivot back & forth, allowing the bass to sling it.

If T-rigging a worm, give the bass time to eat it down to the hook, then slam him to bring the hook out of it's worm skin cover. A heavy sharp worm hook will penetrate hard tissue and stay put, but again, keeping the line tight is vital, espefcially if the worm has been spit and worked up the line, allowing leverage.

For crappie be gentle. Just raise the rod while tightening the line, putting no more than 2# of force into it.

For hard mouthed fish get serious and bury that hook as deep as possible.

When C-rigging sweep solidly sideways, reeling the rod tip back down, keeping line tight. When the bass surfaces it can use that heavy sinker for leverage to throw the hook. I try to keep the bass from making itto the surface, tiring it down in deeper water. The deeper the beter to prevent sudden bladder expansion.

Whichever approach, NEVER let the line go slack. Stay in 100% control.

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When fishing for spots, esp. the coosa river version, you better whack em as hard as you can. Thier mouths are harder for some reason than LMB's, and if you don't hit them as hard as you can, you won't get them in the boat. However, ifyou hit them too hard in close, you lose the fish and the lure he hit. You figure it all out.
I'm with Jim for all those methods with the exception of crankbaits, good sharp hooks and swing to the side as the rod loads up has worked much better for me because in the past I have pulled the crankbait out of their mouth trying to set to hard. Also as Jim mentioned a step or two backwards as you reel a time or three will assist in taking up slack for a more solid hookset as the rod loads up. Remember to use caution stepping back in the boat!
I believe that the topwater plugs & toads seem to be the most difficult in training your self to wait that extra few seconds before crossing their eyes.
The hook setting method that I posted earlier was in regards to casting out away from the boat with under water lures like jigs, soft plastics, spinner baits, swim baits that require hooks to pentrate the basses mouth with one hook. Top water hook setting requires a delayed reaction with a similar technique for crank baits with treble hooks. All in all it is the method that I have adapted when the lure is cast horizontal. For vertical hook setting like spoons, pitching or short line strikes, I tend to drop the rod tip and snap set against a slack line. The main reason for this is to reduce thinking about what to do with each different presentation, it should be second nature, you snooze you loose kind of thing. Give it a try and you maybe surprised how effective this technique is or closely watch some of the pro's and you may see that some of the top names have gone to the reel and sweep set. At any rate this is what works for me a very high percentage of the time.
ps; I have had the good fortune to share some boat time with a few western pro's that are Elite 50, BASS classic winner and runner up, plus a hall of fame member. The purpose was to teach them the horizontal jig peresentation. None of thses exceptional bass fishermen knew when they were being bit at first, until they learned to keep the rod pointed at the jig and run the line over their index finger. Now they knew when they had a strike, but could not hook any bass, until they reel set. Nothing is qiucker or moves line faster then a reel set, when the lure is out away from the boat. At the end of the day, it's your choice. 
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My general rule is, with a single hook set the hook straight up with force. With trebles, set 'er with a sideways sweep.

Of course things change when you're fishing for steelhead, or panfish, or musky..
Tom, what kind of line do you use for casting jigs? I assume that is what your talking about with horizontal jigging. Also, if you have the rod pointed directly at the lure, do you move the lure with the reel? What if you are fishing bluff or steep banks? I know you are supposed to leave a little slack in the line when the lure is dropping, so it will fall vertically. Also. I recall seeing Stacy King casting a jig and ripping it back to the boat, literally yanking the lure off the bottom and letting it fall on slack line. I guess he was going for slightly more active fish than what you are talking about with your technique.
While awaiting Tom I'll share my thoughts on that.

When a jig is on bottom you must keep constant contact with a tight line, analyzing every feel coming up the line. There's no other way to handle it. Slack line, missed bites. I use 35# Power Pro braid mostly over weeds except in ultra clear water, and if the over rock bluffs in ultra clear open water I use an invisible line like whatever little P-line I have left to use up, Vanish, and soon exclusively Yo-Zuri Hybrid, and maybe their improved stuff, and maybe Seagur's lineup starting off in small spools rather than go with the big bulk spools that tie me down. I've been buying the 2# spools to stop the tendency of trying out every new creation and wasting good line already spooled up. And it's MUCH cheaper by the yard in bulk.

When a jig has to do some vertical falling, of course that requires slack line, but only slack enough to keep the plumb line. I feed line out as needed to keep the line entry point in one spot. I focus on that spot where line is being sucked up by the deep. If it move the slightest and not because of holding back line, I set the hook. If a ring forms around the entry hole, I set the hook. I reel just enough to take out most of the surface slack, but don't attempt to remove the 90 degree angle formed between rod tip, water entry point, and bait. A savvy bass would feel the uncharacteristic pulling and spit the jig. So, the rod tip gets pointed straight at where ai think the jig must be, reel the line fairly tight, then put as much swing into the rod as possible to compensate for that big line angle. Now when line is suddenly sliced against water, it has drag. It moves a lot less than we assume, allowing longitudinal pressure to travel down the line and set the hook. As soon as the line is straight I set the hook again, having much more longitudinal power delivered to really bury that thick hook.

So where's the "secret"? Line watching a free falling jig and not allowing so much slack line you can't deliver a solid hookset.

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We call that Stacy King trick stroking a jig at LOZ or swimming it is tricky to learn and you get handcuffed alot.
What makes bass fishing so much fun is the bass, because they can't read and know what they are supposed to do. The technique I was describing works best on sloping structure like rocky banks and points verses flats. You need to lift the rod to make a jig hop off a flat mud bottom, which I tend to avoid with jigs. I have been using fluorocarbon lines the last few years and like the feel, don't like the knot issues. So far no one has come up with a panacea for lines, everyone has a different opinion on lines. I'm fishing clear water and giant bass with 10 to 12 lb premium mono or fluoro hybrids. You gotta get bit before you can break em off! Will go to 14 lb during the summer or heavier at night.
If you feel free to post your email address I will send a copy of the Horizontal Jigging article, or maybe Jim knows how to post it?
Added note;
I realized after looking back at this I didn't answer the question "do you move the jig with your reel or rod"? The answer is yes, primarily with the reel and occasionally with the rod. I hold the rod by the foregrip in front of the reel, remember I'm Oldschool. This lets me run the line over my index finger and gives balance to rod. After making a cast I watch the line to go slack when the jig hits bottom and can feel the clunk. The line actually stops abruptly when the jig hits bottom and the jig skirt flares out, the pork trailer floats up and all this movement gives the jig life. Visualize the jig hitting the bottom, skirt flaring, trailer rising, then quickly scooting off about 6" to 12" and gliding back down and hitting bottom front of a bass. The jig looks alive and represents something the bass is used to seeing..a meal. All you need to do to create this motion is turn the reel handle and the line is retrieved about 24" per turn, depending on the reel ratio and spool diameter. If the bank is a steep slope, one handle turn is enough to make the jig jump off the bottom and glide back down. If the structure is flat, then turning the reel handle will only drag the jig along the bottom, then you need to lift the rod tip and lower it and do this whenever you need to go up and over something. The important thing to remember is the jigs skirt and trailer make the jig look alive, you do not need to impart action, as you would with a Texas rigged plastic worm. One reason that most people miss strikes is they over fish a jig, the other is they are used to fishing plastic worms that are softer and the bass does not reject a worm like they will a jig most of the time. When I feel like imparting wiggles to a jig, I shake the reel handle and that in turn moves the rod tip that is always pointed at the jig, the jig then shakes a little while remaining in place. The reel retrieve with the rod pointed at the jig allows you to be in control at all times. When you feel or see or suspect the jig has been bit, crank the reel handle several turns, if it is a bass, then the hook point will make contact and you will know there is a fish there, then sweep the rod back, enjoy the bass. Hope this helps.
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Tom, if you need something posted you can email me .

( [email protected] )
Paying attention?
i like to acheive the last part of my hook set with a bit of slack in my line. i just feel that there is more impact on the hook than with a tight line. i feel that if you are tight to the fish, you will tend to just pull it along in the water with the pull of your line. with some slack, the hook has impact and will go through the bass. just my opinion, and what i have found to work for me.

something else that i will add is the need to be taking in line at the same time you are setting the hook. so to give a worded explanation of my hook set. drop the rod tip and whip it back up, like cracking a whip in reverse motion, and be reeling all at the same time. here is a video of what i am trying to explain: NuJig - Hook Set Physics

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