When to set the hook comes up on almost everyone of our Lake Ontario charters here in Oswego,New York. As part of our routine, we try to give our clients a preview of what to expect when we get bites. Inevitably, when the action starts, previous instruction most often, goes right out the window!

On our charter boat, the only rod that needs to have the hook set is on are our rigger rods. Furthermore, it’s only when we run meat or flies on our riggers. No other apparatus or set-up on our boat needs to have the hook set.

Setting The Hook with Flies or Meat

Why do we set the hook with flies or meat of our riggers? It has to do with the mechanics of the set-up. When a rigger rod gets bit, it releases directly from a Black’s release. At that point, there is induced slack between the rod tip and the fish. We have to get this slack out of the system as quickly as possible. (See our post on what to do when a rod goes off)

set the hook on riggers properly caught this youngster's fish

Once we are tight, the next step is to get the hook(s) buried into the corner of the fish’s mouth. When a king strikes a meat or a fly, they almost always try to swallow it. Inside a kings mouth, however, is like the top of the skin of your head. And, as hard,too! This is where setting the hook comes in.

The Key to Meat and Fly Success

When we set the hooks on rigger shots with meat or flies, our goal is to keep pulling the hook out of the inside of the fish’s mouth to the corner of it. The corner of the mouth texture allows for the hook to dig in past the barb. The best penetration available inside the fish’s mouth is only skin deep. Its thin in there just like the skin on top of your own head.

Virtually every other set-up when trolling, such as dipseys, shoot , and board rods are tight to begin with. There is no inherent slack after the bite do to the set-up configuration. No need to set the hook on any of these rods. Dipseys are no stretch set-ups. No snubbers used here! We use rubber bands on our spoon, shoot, and board rods which facilitates a good hook set on the strike. We’ ll discuss rubber bands in an up coming post.

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