Tips on getting better hook sets on soft hackles?

Chucker

Chucking a dead parrot on a piece of string!
I missed many strikes when I started fishing soft hackles on the Provo R. in Utah. I would typically raise the rod tip when the line would tighten. Then I moved to the Sound and started beach fishing for SRC. I have learned to keep the tip down and pointing towards the fly. A very soft strip set does the job. Used this same technique for soft hackles and my hook rate improved. If your line is taught and the fly is rising, you hook more. The fish aren't as leader shy as with dry flies, so use a heavier tippet.

Yep. Strip strike. Works for steelhead too, though it is blasphemy and you will go to hell!
 

girlfisher

Active Member

The Leisenring lift is a wonderful method for fishing a "flymph" like a hares ear spider. IMHO just simply "tight drifting" the bug tells the fish that they are too late and thusly make a frantic effort to eat. As a result, not only less hook-ups but break-offs. The Leisenring lift imitates the actual emergence action that trout are keying on. As a result, a better calculated attack and more hook ups.
 
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ChrisC

Active Member

The Leisenring lift is a wonderful method of fishing a "flymph" like a hares ear spider. IMHO just simply "tight drifting" the bug tells the fish that they are too late and thusly make a frantic effort to eat. As a result, not only less hook-ups but break-offs. The Leisenring lift imitates the actual emergence action that trout are keying on. As a result, a better calculated attack and more hook ups.
Yeah, there's mention of Yvon Chouinard (Patagonia founder) using that technique on his beaded soft hackle pattern in this article:
 

herkileez

WFF Premium
I know it was briefly mentioned above, but I'll emphasize it again: sharp hooks.
I was missing a lot of fish, but once I started using "sticky sharp" hooks, my success rate went way up. Here in BC, barbs on all hooks must be pinched or barbless, so I went to super sharp fully barbless hooks for all trout and beach coho. When swinging flies, I maintain a slight tension in order to feel the slightest take, then lift the rod to gently set the hook.
 

Smalma

Active Member
Wetswinger has nailed it; in so many aspects of the sub-surface fly fishing game using a strip hook set will dramatically improve the anglers take to hook-up rate.

The trick is practice the strip set enough that the hook set is automatic (fish a lot). In such fishing it is important to fish with minimal slack in the fly line- keep the fly rod tip low and pointed at the fly tracking the fly during the swing/retrieve. Typically fine wire hooks (barbless) that are sticky sharp will penetrate more easily than heavier wire hooks. Once connection is made with the fish (set and then raise the rod) keep the rod high stripping line to insure a continuous tension on the fish - do not be in a hurry to get the fish on the reel.

The two most critical points between the take of our flies and converting that take to a fish in hand are the hook set and slack line immediately after the hook set.

Curt
 

MGTom

Living at the place of many waters
WFF Premium
Those are great comments about sharp hooks. I've been using the hone much more this year, especially on the boxes of older Mustad hooks.
 

kmudgn

Active Member
I mostly drift soft hackles behind a dry. Of course I miss fish, but I think the use of the dry as an indicator of sorts is useful and can also result in you taking fish on the dry as well.
 

Ian Horning

Powerbait Entomologist
Strip set, and try to keep as much of a straight line connection as possible. Play with casting angles to achieve this. It's pretty incredible how long a fish can mouth a fly without the angler noticing. Wide gap hooks are the good stuff, and I'll often tie my flies small on larger size hooks so there's more bite to 'em.

Sometimes, fishing the soft hackle or emerger a bit more "dry" generates more solid takes. Skittering an emerging caddis pattern typically draws very committed strikes from my experience.
 

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