We see this all the time at our lodges while fishing two of our favorite methods, swinging flies and mousing, guests can get a little too eager or trigger happy out there. When swinging flies, often times you will feel a few taps followed by a deep pull. Don’t go ripping the fly out of the fishes mouth before he has a chance to really eat it. The fish will almost set the hook on himself but after you feel that deep pull, then give a low swing towards the inside bank, almost like you are following through on the swing itself. I find it better to not set at all than to set too early, like I said, with a good tight swing, the fish will almost set on itself, just don’t lift that rod up until you feel that deep pull signifying the fish has the fly completely in its mouth.
Same idea when mousing except that it can be almost more difficult to wait for the fish to eat it as it can be very visual (you are watching the fly). Some people think this would make it easier but in my experience it is the opposite. Typically you will see a wake as the fish follows your fly. Often times a fish will swipe at the mouse before he actually eats it. People see the swipe or the water blow up and their instincts take over causing them to set when the fish hasn’t actually eaten it. If you can refrain, the fish will almost always come back and fully eat it. Again, the key here is to let him eat it before you set! Wait until you feel the deep pull of the fish, then go low and to the side.
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