Techy Thursdays - Better Hook Sets

We all get it, that long, perfect swing then just a pluck, a bang, or a tug then nothing.... Another missed opportunity.

Tight line takes present a few problems for the angler. Often there's no give in the system for the trout to engulf the fly, and if they do then the rod is usually at a less than ideal angle to absorb the shock of the take and protect the tippet.

The following is written with swinging streamers in mind but can be employed while nymphing, pulling wets or dancing wee soft hackles through sparkly riffles.

Rainbows in particular often display certain traits of their steelhead cousins of distant and one I find common is in how they take the swinging fly.

Steelhead will often follow before cutting inside and taking your fly as they return out to their lie. From the common position of the in fly their mouths and by visually watching this on numerous occasions I believe that our rainbows exhibit the same behaviour, and maintaining a tight line will simply result in a missed fish.

What can we do? Well plenty actually, but check out my top two tips to bend that rod...

'Dropping the loop'

By carrying a loop of line behind the trigger finger of your rod hand, you can slip this by moving your rod tip towards shore on the take. This allows enough slack for the fish to turn and pull the fly into the corner of its mouth, ensuring both a true hook-up and a decent angle on your rod to absorb the take.


By simply elevating the rod tip as you swing you will hook up to more of these takes. Firstly you will introduce a curve of slack line which allows the fish to better take in the fly. Secondly with the rod tip raised, less running line will be in contact with those pesky surface currents, which rob you of feel and create drag issues.

You need not raise the rod tip dramatically: keep your rod hand comfortably by your side and raise the tip a little above the horizontal as you swing in towards shore.

So carry a couple feet of line behind the trigger or lift that rod tip a little. Both will allow the fish to take in the fly before the strike and result in less bust offs.

Check out more of Chris' insights over at