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Musky_Madness

Hooksetting Question

22 posts in this topic

Today I was fishing with my dad on a North Central MN lake casting along the weedlines drifting with the gale force winds and I look over and here is a musky cruising the weedline. I run my bucktail right in front of him and doesn't really phase him and my dad tries the same with a M & G with similar results. The fish dissappears and we keep coasting down the shoreline and while I'm reeling my bucktail in he follows it in to the boat lazy as all get out and then just nips and my bucktail 6' from the boat. I set the hook as much as I could with my 7'6" rod and he thrashed his head contined to swim right at us. My dad is scrambling to get the net and the fish swims parallel with the boat and I am looking down at him waiting for the net, he turns and swims away. So we counted it as a catch after some discussion because he did "touch" the boat but no the net but have no pictures to show off frown What a bittersweet muskie. It was in the low 40's so certainly no trophy monster but still a fun fish to catch. So after some boat banter we were trying to figure out what to do in the shoulda, woulda, coulda breakdown and figured it would be best to set the hook down and pull the fish towards the bow to get the best hook set? It seems that my upward hookset didn't lodge the hook enough in it's mouth obviously and I had just sat on the deck the other night and sharpened hooks. I probably also would have just reached down and grabbed the fish if I were to do it all over again, but still one of those shoulda, coulda, woulda situations. Any similar stories or advice?

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It eventually happens to all of us, and the more you fish, the more it happens.

Nippers.

After you've fished for awhile, it becomes second nature to set the hook in the opposite direction that the fish is going, or at least up. But sometimes this is still not going to be enough. There's always going to be those "nippers".

You fish hard. You practice. You use good gear. You read books and magazines. You sharpen hooks. You do everything in your power to make yourself better, and then it happens. That's why it will always be "fishing". And not only fishing, but musky fishing. Musky fishing magnifies "regular fishing" to the nth degree in some ways, doesn't it?

I've had a couple of nippers already this year too. One was a really big fish last week up on LOTW. It nipped my bait about 10 feet from the boat, and then opened up it's big yap (aimed right at me) and started some big, long headshakes. I put on a little pressure to keep the line tight, and here comes the bait flying in my face. Tough break. That fish was hooked by the skin of it's beak.

All you can do is chalk it up, and then go catch the next one... which I did!

Go get em!

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i gues if the fish is comming at you reeel like crazy then when you see it like a 1/2" from tight hammer it home like your trign to hook wood.. getting wacked in the face with a fishing lure plain out sucks!!

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if a fish is real close like that or your fishing a lure near the surface or an actual top water it's not the best idea to go straight up and back. there's a few reasons. the first is obvious... if you miss it, hooks coming at you at 100 miles an hour can ruin your day (or your fishing partner). second if it misses and the lure shoots out and away from the fish it won't get a second chance at it if it want's to.

third, from the angle a muskie normally hit's a surface/near suface lure (behind/below) your hooking into the upper bill of the mouth when you yank upwards. this is the toughest area to get a good hookset in pretty much any fish. and muskie are about toughest. combine that with the clamping power of the jaws and it's hard to even move a lure enough to penetrate it. a second or third pump is needed. add in improper equipment set up's like a softer action rod and loose drag and it's a missed fish.

the best hookset for me has always been to the side in a downward motion, coupled with a twist of the hips and shoulders for added power. a lure at any depth doesn't shoot out of the water (much) and there's plenty of power behind the hookset to sink in. if it's hooked on the first i rear back with a side and upward motion for the second one to help ensure a good one. most of my hooks are through the sides of the mouth or bottom where it's softer.

on the flip side it's harder for a fish to throw the hook if it's in the top bill because a hole won't rip as easy. but it will also injure it worse if it by chance does rip, possibly breaking the bill altogether. too rare to worry about though. holes rip open easier on the sides or bottom so great line control is needed, especially on jumps to keep it on the hooks.

but yeah, your gonna lose 'em, get used to it. and like Tim said... just go get the next one.

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I like to roll with my hooksets over my right shoulder, but I reel with my left hand so for you right handed guys It would be the equivalent of rolling to your left. my hooksets are fairly diagonal, never a full sweep, and never completely vertical.

I think if you start thinking about it too much though, when it comes down to crunch time you might get flustered and blow the hookset completely either way. Just do what is comfortable for you, and like everyone before me has said, fish are going to get off no matter what you do, and I'm sure you knew that before you made this thread, if not, it's a hard lesson to learn but after losing a few it starts to hurt a little less everytime. Thankfully I've never lost a fish that would haunt my dreams for the coming years(knock on wood) though I have lost some decent fish. I've already blown 3 hook-ups this year. Oh well though. I just think about it as a success, I must have at least been doing something right to get them to bite.

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Fish faster/more erractic, then they hook themselves! laugh

I've had it happen a fair bit, it just happens is my conclusion. Keep doing what you're doing, you're getting a fish to eat, maybe the next one will get/stay pinned.

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Some times they just win. cry

Yep, my one strike this weekend hit at full speed coming at the boat and kept right on going full speed towards the boat. My reel would have needed to be a 50:1 to catch up and get a hookset.

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If I counted every fish that I had next to the boat as a caught fish, my numbers would be double what they are now.

I think you have to actualy catch them to count them don't you??

It's not rocket science, don't think so much about it. They do get off some times, even when you do everything right.

No need to beat yourself up every time you miss a fish.

There will be times when you do everything wrong and you'll still catch them. It all evens out in the long run. You'll do better just reacting to each situation, rather than trying to find some perfect, works in all situations hookset.

You win some, you lose some.

"Ace"

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Hey Dan,

Water temps on the Big V are still in the low 60's, it's been an interesting season so far. We are still waiting for summer to get here.

It's been better the last couple of weeks, but the good times have been few and far between. Best so far is a 49" for me, I have had a couple 50's+ in the boat on the end of my clients lines however. smile

When you coming to see me??

"Ace"

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If I counted every fish that I had next to the boat as a caught fish, my numbers would be double what they are now.

I think you have to actualy catch them to count them don't you??

"Ace"

Not that big of a deal, but I respectfully disagree. If you tire/play a fish out and have it next to the boat, that's a caught fish. This is a catch and release sport. Not that much difference between a fish that I net and do a water release with, than a fish that I have at boatside that I have tired out and the hooks pop out. Well, actually there is a difference, I didn't split the fishes fins with my net on the non-net release and didn't have to deal with a fish twisting and tangling in it, and I didn't have to put my hands down by the fish where I could get cut pretty easily. Pretty hard to argue against the quality of those kind of releases as well, never a fish that ends up a floater. Especially when fishing alone the number of fish I "count" goes up even if it didn't end up in the net. Many times I have had fish get off when fishing alone where if I had a boat partner they could have netted that fish 3 times over. Do I get mad when a fish gets off in those situations? Rarely, unless it's a 50" plus. It's actually kind've nice because I can get my line back in the water and take advantage of those short feeding windows we've been having this year and pop 2-3 fish in 30 minutes.

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I thought the same DHanson...we knew that one swam away unharmed and can grow some more over the next few years. I realize they will get off and get away as they have before, I was just looking for some good tips on setting that hook as best you can without launching a weapon at your head. Thanks for the suggestions!

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Sorry for getting off track a little. I'm no expert, but I think a good hookset is somwehat short and solid impact with the rod. The superman hooksets IMO are responsible for some lost fish. I am guilty of this too and I really believe there is such thing as setting the hook to hard. It does depend on what action rod you have with how hard you should set the hook. I hold my rod with my left hand and set the hook toward my right shoulder. Figure 8 strikes are different and can get a little crazy.

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I'm no expert, but I think a good hookset is somwehat short and solid impact with the rod. The superman hooksets IMO are responsible for some lost fish. I am guilty of this too and I really believe there is such thing as setting the hook to hard. It does depend on what action rod you have with how hard you should set the hook. I hold my rod with my left hand and set the hook toward my right shoulder. Figure 8 strikes are different and can get a little crazy.

+1, we no longer have 6 foot rods and line that stretches. I KNOW I've torn a bait out of a fishes mouth being overzealous on the hookset.

Big rubber baits are different though, can't set hard enough, IME. It really depends on what lures you're fishing, topwaters and jerkbaits for me require nothing, the fish have been trying to kill them and hook themselves (at least lately), same goes for most bucktails.

Turgeon has a great segment on this, IDK if the video is on the thorne site or not. He talks a lot about body position and how to hold your rod and maximize the mechanics of your body to allow for the easiest and powerful set, quick also so it's not missed. Setting yourself up for success with every cast.

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"+1, we no longer have 6 foot rods"

Yeah Jeff you have one that is shorter!

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I throw a 6'6" and love it. I use it for jerkbaits and topwaters and small blades. It's a fun rod to have, and I've boated my only two fish this season so far on it.

I got it because it was necessary for the way I fish, just one of those comfort things. Hooksets haven't been any issue with that rod at all either, got a lot of backbone.

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Been slow for me too, but I did get a 55"er so that makes up for the slowness. grin Yes I need to get my butt up there!

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Sideways and to the right for me. I always try and keep myself in position during my retrieve in order to set the hook this way.

When I get into a fish boatside, I try to keep the rod down, do all that I can to keep her from trashing. Free spool and give her line if I have to.

It is tough, we all spend so much time casting and then boom it happens. Practice makes perfect, for us weekend warriors,in a good year you only get a dozen or so opps. smile

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