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
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.
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