Big Fish Require Slow Hook Sets On Top

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Show Me Your “O” Face – Photos By Louis Cahill

If any of you have fished for cutthroat trout with dry flies you know most of the time you need to wait a good while on the hook set.

The first time I fished for cutthroats I missed many more takes than I care to share. Cutthroat trout are known for their slow motion rises, and if you set the hook too quick, you’ll end up just pulling the fly out of the trout’s mouth.

Just like cutthroat’s, big rainbow and brown trout also require you to count, 1 Mississippi, 2 Mississip…in your head before you set the hook to ensure consistent hook ups. If you can still see the fish eating your fly you need to wait longer. A big trout comes up, opens it bucket mouth, and usually doesn’t close it fully until it’s submerged completely below the surface. And if a fish is chasing after and eating your dry fly moving downstream, you have to wait even longer.

Big trout crushes clients hopper on my home water.

Keep in mind also that the bigger your dry fly, the longer you need to wait on your hook set as well.  If your fishing a big size 4 extended body foam hopper, you’ll want to make sure the trout gets all of the fly in it’s mouth. Quick hook sets will often result in the fish just getting the tail end of the fly in its mouth or you’ll get what I call a hair lip hook up, that quickly results in a spit fly.

Every angler no matter what their skill level, will end up setting the hook too quickly occasionally. Especially when trout catch you off guard when your scratching that nagging itch or looking at another trout rising. Just remember to give the big boys plenty of time to munch on your fly before you set the hook, and more trophy trout will end up in your net.

Keep it Reel,

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline


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2 thoughts on “Big Fish Require Slow Hook Sets On Top

  1. I have fished Cutthroat my whole life. Native westslopes where i come from. Just thought i would add this, if I’m caught off guard, that fish usually gets caught. If I’m looking at the fly and see the fish rise to it, then the catch ratio goes down. Generally once he turns, good hook sets can be made. I’ve never had to count 3 mississippis before. But thats just my experience.

  2. Pingback: Slow Hook Sets for Big Fish | MidCurrent

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