Tips and Tricks, Newsletter #6 Setting the Hook
The winter Steelhead fishing season is over. I'm sorry to see it go. I love winter Steelheading even though the weather and changing conditions can make it a more difficult pursuit.
Global climate change is real and effects our reel time more and more. This winter of 2015/2016 was challenging with the big rains to start the season with, and the high water that brought the winter fish in early and then the early snow melt in the spring which brought lots of color into some rivers very early. Having said that, there were some big fish caught by some of GrabFlies customer/clients. I would like to welcome these three Spey guys into the 20 lb club:
I have two new videos out - featuring the guys above in them.
Winter Steel, Part 1: https://vimeo.com/163031494
Winter Steel, Part 2: https://vimeo.com/163898922
I have enough footage for a part 3 with Dave Robinson's, 20 lb Steelhead, and more footage of my trip north to fish with him, but I will save that for the future.
If you like these videos please "like" them.
Tips and Tricks #1 (Setting the Hook)
There are three techniques that I know and have used.
1. Drop the loop
2. Set the hook off the reel drag
3. Let the Steelhead set the hook itself
Dropping the loop, or I should say letting the loop get pulled through your fingers and then setting the hook. The idea here is to let the Steelhead take the fly, you feel it through the tension on the line. You let the Steelhead take out your loop (length of loop varies, but I use about a foot) and then you set the hook by a sideways strike, or just lifting your rod (if you have a lot of line out I don't think this matters, just need to set the hook).
- The idea here is to let the Steelhead turn its head before you set the hook.
Setting the hook off the reel drag. If you don't have enough discipline to let the line slide through your fingers - you just give it the heave-ho. AKA the trout strike reaction, then this is a great way to set the hook. Also if you have lots of line out, long cast, this method works great as there is enough slack and stretch in the line to allow the Steelhead to turn its head before the heave-ho reaction gets to Mr. Steelhead.
I like to set my drag medium to medium tight, and then I loosen some when the fight is on. You'll need to experiment to find the right reel tension what works best for you. More line out the tighter the drags needs to be, short line equal less reel drag.
Let the Steelhead set the hook. This happens a lot when a Steelhead hits the fly on the run - grab and go. Steelhead is running and jumping before you can do anything. If your reel drag is set with enough tension you are probably okay, if not the fight usually ends with a LDR (long distance release).
The Don't Do's - best not to be too quick on the trigger (setting the hook too fast), get surprised, and don't over anticipate the strike. We have all pulled the hook out of the fish's mouth. If you are quick to react then use #2 "Set the hook off of the reel drag" method.
When Steelhead are aggressive it is much easier to get a good hookup. But sometimes Steelhead are not aggressive and are apprehensive about taking your fly. You can tell this is going on by a slight slowing down of your swinging fly line and maybe with the slightest pulls like something is chewing on your fly. Often Steelhead will come up to the fly and take it into their mouth and drift with the fly. If you try and set the hook it will just come out. If this happens and you haven't tried to set the hook on that cast, on your next cast use a loop, and near the end of the swing when you feel the same thing - drop your loop so your line has slack and then set the hook toward the bank you are wading from. I have caught quite a few Steelhead this way and it is always a big hoot.
Thanks for reading, Tight Lines, Jeff Layton - Grabflies.com
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