How many time have you said, ‘Darn I just missed one’?
Well, in my case I have said it a million times at least. What I didn’t do for the longest was ask myself, ‘Why did I miss that fish?’ Some of the guys in my bass club also used to rib me about how I would ‘go on point’ like a bird dog before I would set the hook. They also ribbed me about how I would come completely off the deck when I did set the hook. Well these were all ‘lessons learned’ in learning the proper way to set a hook when using plastic baits.
I have since taken a lot of their advice and because of it I am now catching a lot more fish. Sure I still miss some but nowhere near the numbers I was missing because of improper hook set.
In my younger years I would have been categorized as a crank bait fisherman because that’s what I generally threw 90% of the time. And because of that I didn’t use a lot of plastics, which limited my ability to catch a lot of quality fish. I got used to and comfortable with setting the hook straight up and reeling downward slowly to take up line to bring the fish in. I guess that is why when I started plastic fishing more I would set the hook straight up in the air and because I was setting it so hard I would literally jump up into the air as I was setting the hook. When I was on the way down from that leap that was I doing, it was giving just a small amount of slack to the fish. Just enough slack for it to be able to throw the hook and make me say, ‘darn I just lost one’. Also by going on point when I felt the first tap, I was allowing the fish to inhale the bait and then when I felt the second tap I would set the hook as the fish was spitting out the bait, again I was saying “darn I just missed another one”.
So, let’s talk about what is the proper way to set the Hook and catch more fish.
First let’s talk about what a fish does when it eats a plastic bait. Bass really don’t bite plastic baits because generally they hit it when it’s standing still or fluttering down in the water column. They just open their mouth and inhale the bait like a vacuum cleaner sucks in a dirt ball. They open their gills and exhale water through them and it creates suction in which the bait is inhaled into their mouth. That slight movement of the bait is the “First” tap you feel or the first movement of the line you see. The second tap or line movement you feel or see is when the fish has tasted it and doesn’t like what it feels like and is exhaling the bait by blowing it out of her mouth by reversing the gill action. So when I was “going on point” at the first tap instead of setting the hook on the first tap, I was allowing the fish to have time to analyze the bait and spit it out before I would set the hook. That’s been a hard habit to break, but I am getting better at it every time I throw plastics. So remember ‘tap 1’ set the hook. If you can remember that you will catch more fish and bigger fish.
Another thing to remember is how you should swing your rod when setting the hook. If you’re like I was, you are probably coming straight up with your rod tip and pulling the bait straight out of the fishes open mouth… ‘Darn I just missed one!’ If you make a quick, hard sideways swing of the rod what you are doing is actually moving the hook to the right or left and increasing your chances of hooking the fish in the hard sides of the mouth. Since I have adopted this technique I am getting much better hook sets and my lost ration has also significantly gone down. The sides of the fish’s mouth are softer than the roof and upper lips and it make for better penetration of the hook.
I will tell you that this technique take a lot of time to perfect. I still find myself, on occasion, ‘going on point’ or swinging straight up when I know I shouldn’t. It just takes time to ingrain in your mind the right way to make a good hook set. Try this technique and see if it works for you and let me know how it helps you catch more fish.
If you have any questions and or comments please send them to Hook_up66@Yahoo.com and I promise I’ll get your questions addressed. Let me see the pictures of those bass you catch while fishing and using this technique. Now get out there and catch a big’un!