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National Geographic named the Boundary Waters as one of the 50 Places of a Lifetime

Setting The Hook Properly Results In More Fish


     For most anglers, the first lesson in properly setting the hook comes when they stick themselves in the finger. These unlucky anglers quickly learn that hooks do indeed bite. They also learn that putting pressure on a hook once it's in a bass' mouth will catch the fish.

     Why this happens is a simple matter of hook design. The point of a hook is sharp and initiates the bite. The spear of the hook is beveled like a knife to create a cut-and-separate action that keeps the point biting into new territory. The barb prevents the point from passing back through the hole it cut.

"It doesn't matter how fancy your equipment is or how attractive your lure appears," says pro angler Mike Auten. "If you don't set the hook you're not going to catch anything. Setting the hook properly is more than just a yank on the rod. The hook-set actually starts the process, the act of tightening the line and reeling sets the hook. A hook is set in the first five seconds after you strike."

     For this reason, although we all poke ourselves with fish hooks, few of us bury them to the barb. At the first stab of pain we recoil, thus stopping the cutting action. When you strike at a bass, that action makes the point of the hook bite into the jaws. A few seconds of pressure from the rod makes the hook enter into the jaws up to and over the barb of the hook. At this point the hook is truly set.

     With single-hook lures, fish hold the lure for a short time. A bass will pin the lure against the roof of its mouth with its tongue and try to crush it. This gives the angler the seconds needed to set the hook.


     With crankbaits, the fish doesn't hold on to it. The lure is hard, and the bass immediately spits it out. A bass can take a crankbait full of treble hooks into its mouth and spit it out before you know what's happened.

     The best technique for setting a crankbait is to simply tighten the line. Setting a crankbait with a hearty yank will merely pull the bait away from bass.

     Anglers should hold their rods at a 45-degree angle when fishing to make recovery from the strike easier. If you hold your rod too high, you pull the rod back over your head on the strike. It is difficult to keep your balance and reel-in line from this position. When striking, pull the rod upwards toward your chest and begin reeling.

     Knowing when to strike is also important to a proper hook-setting technique. When casting soft baits, try to feel the fish for a moment before setting the hook One exception - when fishing hard baits, set the hook as soon as you feel the fish.

     Article courtesy of  Mike Auten is a three-time qualifier for the BASS Masters Classic. Aside from his Classic qualifications, his top achievements are being the B.A.S.S. Eastern Division points leader for the 1997-98 season and a third place during the 1996-97 season in the BASSMASTER BP Top 100 in Minnetonka followed by a fifth at the BASSMASTER BP Megabucks Tournament in Dallas.



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Fishing Checklist

Setting The Hook

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Online Fishing Weigh-in

Getting Kids Fishing