Saltwater guides worldwide know they are in for a frustrating day when they have a trout fisherman on the bow of their boat. The process of going from setting the hook with the rod tip (aka, the trout set) to strip setting is a right of passage every saltwater angler must pass. Unfortunately, the best way to learn to instinctively do it right is to make the mistake of trout setting and grow from it. (Just don’t make that mistake too many times for the sanity of the guide and your own self confidence.) Fish of the sea have a hard mouth that you have to really pierce the hook into. When setting with the rod, the soft tip of the rod absorbs some of the force (like it was designed to) and the fish gets a chance to feel the fly move a little and spit it out before the fly really hooks it. When you strip set, there is no give from the tip of a fly rod, the fly immediately hooks into the fish’s hard mouth. How hard you strip set varies on the fish you are chasing and the tackle you are using. For larger saltwater targets, i.e. Tarpon, GT’s, Rooster Fish and Jacks, you really want to strip set hard and hang onto the line for an extra second until the fish takes off. Burn marks on your finger from the fly line may be painful, but they are a good sign of a strong strip set worthy of landing that fish of a lifetime. I look at them like a souvenir, reminding you of the great fish you landed days before. And never forget, no TROUT SETS!
More Tips on Strip Setting: