When swinging flies for salmon and steelhead, we find setting the hook to the side (as opposed to straight up) will result in more fish to the net. We often use the phrase ‘set towards the bank,’ however we realize this can be confusing when fishing anywhere other than a big long gravel bar.
The important thing to remember when setting the hook is to set in the same direction that the fly is swinging. If your fly is swinging from the center of the river to the left, once you feel the take, carry your hook set to the left in the direction your fly was traveling.
Why? It’s simple. By setting the hook in the direction of the swing, no slack is present in the line while setting the hook. On the other hand, by setting in an upward direction, or opposite the direction of the swing, a slight pause of the fly results as you pull it in the opposite direction it was traveling. This most often leads to weak hook ups or altogether missed hook sets.
Instead, set with the swing and you should find your landing rate increase.