Today we present you with a simple tip that we’ve seen learned the hard way on, not one, but many heartbreaking occasions.
When fishing for trout, particularly when fishing sub-surface flies from a drifting boat, most successful anglers agree that the most effective method of hooking fish on flies you can’t see is by setting the hook on anything. Literally anything. Whether you saw the dip of an indicator, a subtle curl of the tip of your fly line, or think you felt a slight tap on the fly, it’s always worth setting the hook… Remaining optimistic that every cue could be a fish at any time is important. Plus, as the old adage goes, hook sets are free anyway!
However, one mistake we see on a regular basis, even from those who do a great job at setting the hook often, is not staying tight to their hook set long enough, even when they’re sure they’ve connected with the bottom, a root wad, etc. In other words, remaining optimistic after the hook set is even more important. Allow us to explain..
Upon setting the hook, most smaller trout tend to provide instant feedback the moment the hook is driven home. Rapid pulses, throbs, maybe even a jump quickly confirm you’re not connected to an inanimate object. Duh, right?
However, on many rivers like ours, the largest trout rarely put on much of a show immediately after taking the fly, initially giving the appearance that the fly has found a snag, the bottom, or another fly-eating piece of structure. The result? The angler assumes the fly is snagged, begins trying to free it up with erratic movements of the rod tip, only to watch a trophy fish boil at the surface before spitting the fly. Ouch.
Therefore, when targeting large trout, we tell our anglers all the time, hold on to your hook set! Even if it feels like your fly is buried into something solid, keep your rod tip high, and maintain tension for up to several seconds until you’re absolutely sure it’s bottom. Worst-case scenario? You lose a fly. Best case scenario? You land the trout of your life.
Case in point – We’ve seen the “bottom” swim upstream on many, many occasions. Hold on to that hook set!