Updated: Oct 29
The hook is what allows anglers to pull the fish into the boat but it can only hold on so much. Making sure the hook is properly placed in the fish mouth and penetrates enough will allow it to hold on much better and improve your chances of landing the fish. Setting the hook is a term used by anglers referring to the process of driving the hook into the fish’ mouth once it bites. The way an angler sets the hook should be slightly different based on the techniques and gear being utilized. Without a proper hookset the chances of getting a fish into the boat are very small!
For baits and techniques that use big thick wire hooks anglers will need to put a lot of force into their hooksets. Once a bite has been detected anglers should lower their rod tip towards the water while removing as much slack as possible and then swing the rod tip straight up to the 2 o’clock position with force. If the angler lowers their rod tip without maintaining semi-tight line the hook may be pulled out of the fish mouth by any weight being used, or rotate in such a way that once the angler swings upwards the hook point is no longer in the direction to be pulled into the fish mouth. Lines are also more likely to break if they are “snapped” into tension rather than starting tight and using the same tension force. When using techniques that require a classic hook set it is common practice to have the drag setting as tight as possible to prevent any slipping while setting the hook!
For baits and techniques which use thinner wire hooks the angler will need to exert less force to drive the hook into the fish. Exerting too much force can cause the hooks to bend or break which will lead to more fish being lost. Setting the hook with finesse type baits that use thinner gauge hooks can done with 3 easy steps and is commonly referred to as a reel set. Once a bite has been detected anglers start reeling in while lowering the rod tip until it is about or slightly below parallel with the water. The line should tight this whole time and the rod tip bending more and more as you approach parallel. While keeping the line tight gently lift the rod tip back up towards the 2 o’clock position and continue to reel in to apply pressure. Adding any slack into the line during this process will cause the hook point to fall out of the fish mouth or twist at an angle limiting the amount of penetration you will get
for crankbaits, topwaters, and big pike / musky swimbaits anglers a third hook set method should be used. This method is known as the sweeping hookset. To perform a sweeping hookset anglers should ensure their line is tight and then put slight pressure on the line by pulling the rod in the same direction the bait was travelling. This can be accomplished by simply rotating around the waist. When using lipped baits you do not want to make a snapping motion or change the direction of the force as this may cause the lip to deflect the bait in uncontrolled directions resulting in poor hooksets. If the fish has your bait the hooks will be in its mouth. In order to drive the hooks into the fish it requires a very little amount of pressure which can be achieved by continuing to pull in the same direction the bait was travelling when the bite was detected. This hookset style works well for larger pike and muskie baits as well since anglers will need to set the hook quickly or the fish will get away. Pike and muskie normally attack baits with enough force that twisting at the waist is enough to drive the hooks into them.
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