“Don’t trout set,” are words nearly every saltwater angler has heard at one time or another. That’s because when it comes to hard mouthed species like bonefish it’s crucial to set the hook by stripping the fly as opposed to raising the rod in typical ‘trout’ fashion. Raising the rod does a great job at burying a small fly into a soft mouth on light tippet, but not so great at pinning a large hook into a hard mouth.
However, the strip set is not only useful in the salt, it can be extremely effective in freshwater too! In fact, when fishing for silver salmon we find we land far more fish by setting the hook with a long strip as opposed to raising the rod and here’s why:
- Heavy Tackle. When fishing for silvers, we don’t use much in the way of ‘light tackle.’ 15 – 20 pound maxima and heavy wire salmon hooks are the norm, so we’re not too concerned about breaking off on the hook set. Therefore, we don’t need to turn the rod into a shock absorber by raising the rod until AFTER the hook is good and buried.
- Hard Mouths. While silvers might not have as hard a mouth as bonefish or tarpon, their mouth is substantially harder than that of a trout (particularly large bucks like that shown above). Therefore, a good hard strip is best to seat the hook.
- Anticipation. Silver fishing can be really visual, and because of that it can be really tough not to pull the fly right out of the fish’s mouth when you see it charge your fly. After all, it’s pretty exciting. By strip setting however, you have an instant cue for when to set the hook. Simply strip until you feel resistance, and continue that strip to set the hook. In other words, strip until the line is tight, then raise the rod to fight the fish.
- They Keep Coming. Silvers can be really aggressive. Often to the point of continuing to chase a fly after missing it two or three times. Setting the hook by raising the rod instantly removes your fly from the water on a missed strike, whereas a strip set keeps the fly moving in the event that he misses it, but still continues to chase it. This might sound silly, but if you’ve fished for silvers, you know what we mean!
If you’re planning on chasing aggressive salmon species, such as silvers or chums, try setting the hook with a strip set. We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Best of luck out there!