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Hookset: how do I get tiny flies to reliably take?

Joined:
2013/7/30 17:16
From Fairborn, OH
Posts: 296
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I once watched a WWII special describing how submarine skippers were nearly in tears as their faulty tordepoes failed to detonate on the hulls on Axis ships despite direct hits. That's how I felt yesterday when I watched numerous browns rise to smaller (size 18-20) dry flies but fail to get hooked when I raised the rod.

What is the key to effectively landing fish on these small hooks? Obviously, it's most likely a case of user error here rather than faulty equipment, but any way you slice it, it sure does suck to literally watch a nice 13-14" fish sip your fly only to yank it right back out of his mouth with no effect.


Posted on: 2013/9/9 10:56


Re: Hookset: how do I get tiny flies to reliably take?

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2008/1/31 17:19
From Pretty much everywhere at some point, Thorndale today.
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I actually think I do better with hooking fish on smaller flies.

1. Use lighter hooksets. No bass fishing styled yanks.
2. Pay attention to angle. The hookset has to be to the side or back of the fish, never pulling it forward. If, for instance, you commonly fish small flies downstream of you, this can explain your difficulty.
3. Timing is crucial. Fish should turn down with the fly. A lot of times, when using small flies, the fish are real visible as they hang out near the surface sipping little bugs rather than shooting up from the depths. This means you see it all happen, which can cause you to anticipate and set the hook just as it's taking, which is too early.
4. Make sure fish is actually taking the fly, rather than last second "semi-refusals", which basically means bumping it with their noses or lightly "mouthing" it. I run into this with midges sometimes and those really picky fish, but I'm usually good with trikes. If you have trouble, you can try altering the fly or the drift. But often the best advice is to find fish feeding in some current rather than the super slow water. In current, they gotta be more committed to get their meals.

Also, if you tie, try a different hook. You can even buy small sized hooks with larger hook gaps.

Posted on: 2013/9/9 11:18


Re: Hookset: how do I get tiny flies to reliably take?

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2011/4/12 17:23
From Lancaster Co.
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Quote:

Six-Gun wrote:
That's how I felt yesterday when I watched numerous browns rise to smaller (size 18-20) dry flies but fail to get hooked when I raised the rod.


I suspect those fish did not take your fly rather they refused it at the last second for some reason. Happens all the time. If a fish eats your fly, no matter how small, a normal hook set is all you need. Too many people think their reflexes are slow or something. See pcray #4.

Posted on: 2013/9/9 14:07
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Re: Hookset: how do I get tiny flies to reliably take?

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2013/8/6 21:44
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I agree with McSneek. More times than not, when I miss a fish, I find it's the fish not committing to the take rather than my hook setting abilities.

Posted on: 2013/9/9 19:26
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Re: Hookset: how do I get tiny flies to reliably take?

Joined:
2013/7/30 17:16
From Fairborn, OH
Posts: 296
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I'm sure that you guys are generally right on multiple counts. Some of these fish were definitely making last second refusals, as I clearly saw one do exactly that. It hit the water surface hard, but far enough off of the fly that it was clearly a last-second rejection and not a miss. Gotta think that others were doing the same thing, but were hared to judge. Conversely, it was hilarious to see the fry-sized fish come grab on a size 14 renegade and swim off with it, clearly unable to take it in their mouths fully, let alone get hooked.

However, one of the hits that I failed to make a set on was very clearly sipped in by a nice-sized (about 13") brown maybe 10 yards away. With polarized sunglasses on, I could see him clear as day. After he took the fly and held it, I counted one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand and then tried to set, but pulled it right out of is mouth and he never took another shot after that. What pcray said for #1 and #2 definitely rings a bell. I am a converted bass fisherman who is definitely guilty of occasionally setting flies like I'm trying to drive a 3/0 bass hook into a heavy-lipped largemouth. I also am not used to worrying about the direction of the set as much. In hindsight and with what he posted, I'm fairly certain that I was paying very little attention to the direction I was setting.

Posted on: 2013/9/9 19:49


Re: Hookset: how do I get tiny flies to reliably take?

Joined:
2009/4/21 16:39
From G-side AKA GLENSIDE
Posts: 676
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One of the hardest things to do IMO. The proper hook set is opposites to the stream flow to the side. That bring said its one reaction that is a reaction. You don't think you just do it. I think I speak for most when I say you just have some of those days.

If the stream is flowing left to right you would set the hook to the right about head high. I don't really pay attention to how I do it.

Posted on: 2013/9/9 21:40


Re: Hookset: how do I get tiny flies to reliably take?

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2013/7/30 17:16
From Fairborn, OH
Posts: 296
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Makes sense, marcq. Next time out, I'm going to give that a conscious try and hopefully make it into a subconscious habit.

Posted on: 2013/9/10 1:06


Re: Hookset: how do I get tiny flies to reliably take?

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2010/7/18 7:23
From Lansdale
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Are your hooks sharp?
On a second missed fish I usually am reminded to sharpen the hook and things change in my favor. Even if you don't have a hone, you can use the flat side of a rock on the stream bottom to get at two sides of the point.

Posted on: 2013/9/10 14:30
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Re: Hookset: how do I get tiny flies to reliably take?

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2013/7/30 17:16
From Fairborn, OH
Posts: 296
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That's a good point, Keith. While I don't actively sharpen my hooks in the field, I do make sure to snag a sufficient number of my flies in far off trees that I'm forced to break them off and put on a fresh one fairly regularly throughout the day. Does that count?

Posted on: 2013/9/10 17:29


Re: Hookset: how do I get tiny flies to reliably take?

Joined:
2006/9/13 10:18
From LV
Posts: 7531
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What PCray said plus, keep slack off the water, it only causes you to miss the hook set. Trout tend to hook themselves, once you start playing the fish keep the line tight. Make sure your hooks are sharp.
Even new hooks can be dull.

Posted on: 2013/9/23 16:58
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Re: Hookset: how do I get tiny flies to reliably take?

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2010/2/15 19:09
From Ohio
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I agree with Pcray, McSneek, and Chaz. Your problem is probably one or more of those things. If I had to put money on it, I’d say you’re pulling the fly out of the fish’s mouth using the bass master hook set and either striking too soon or too late. You may have the dull hook problem compounding your frustration. Watch the fish eat, set to the side and downstream. If you're making contact and not connecting check the hook point. After all is siad, sometimes the fish just wins the fight. If you caught every fish that ate your fly it would be called catching, not fishing. That's the sport of it.

Posted on: 2013/9/23 19:58


Re: Hookset: how do I get tiny flies to reliably take?

Joined:
2011/7/6 13:48
From Philadelphia PA
Posts: 1430
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The distance of your leader and tippet from the fly line is also important. Since I tie my own I usually have 3' of tippet...anything less and the bite diminishes.

If your fly line is a bright color - it is more visible to trout at greater distances, especially when water conditions are clear or low.

make sure you do not have any extra knots in the tippet.

Trout also have very good eyesight...if they see you or a shadow of you - they will rise but not take. Also they can sense or see line thickness.

Posted on: 2013/9/24 15:46
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Re: Hookset: how do I get tiny flies to reliably take?

Joined:
2012/2/27 15:04
From Perry County
Posts: 80
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Hang in there and keep working at it and you will get it. I am with all the advise offered but at the end of the day it will have to just become a natural instinct when to set the hook. And there some days it just works out that you seem to miss a lot of hook sets.

One of the things that I saw mess with a old friend of mine who finally broke down and bought a new rod a few years ago. He was so use to his old style rod that the fast action of his new rod had him yanking the fly out of the fishes mouth setting the hook till he realized what was happening.

Posted on: 2013/10/11 10:50
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Re: Hookset: how do I get tiny flies to reliably take?

Joined:
2010/6/19 16:43
From Clinton County, Pa.
Posts: 1783
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Quote:

PennypackFlyer wrote:
The distance of your leader and tippet from the fly line is also important. Since I tie my own I usually have 3' of tippet...anything less and the bite diminishes.

If your fly line is a bright color - it is more visible to trout at greater distances, especially when water conditions are clear or low.

make sure you do not have any extra knots in the tippet.

Trout also have very good eyesight...if they see you or a shadow of you - they will rise but not take. Also they can sense or see line thickness.
If their eyesight is so good why don't they see the hook sticking out of the flies A**? Answer? They do see it, but ignore it just like they ignore seeing your tippet IF the fly shows NO drag!

Posted on: 2013/10/11 11:02
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Re: Hookset: how do I get tiny flies to reliably take?

Joined:
2011/7/6 13:48
From Philadelphia PA
Posts: 1430
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I felt it was more like a bee stinger. Fish know they will be stung in the mouth.

Posted on: 2013/10/18 8:31
_________________
"I am respected when I walk into any fly shop. Salespeople wait on me hand and waders. I once tried underwater casting just to see if I could. I am the most admired Fly Fisherman in the world. And when I fly-fish, I use the Orvis Access. Stay Fishing MF



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