Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Keys To Setting the Hook From a Wheelchair

Scott Anderson Spring 2015
Sight Fishing!
Spring is here!  Just 3 weeks ago we had 3-4 inches of snow here in Louisiana.  Yesterday the high temperature was 83 degrees...Thank you Lord!  With the warm rains and overnight temperatures barely dipping into the upper 50's, the bass have moved up.  At the beginning of the week, I had the marvelous opportunity to get some sight fishing in and boy did I have a blast.  Moocheaux patience required but tons of freshwater fun.

There is nothing quite like seeing a fish, making the cast to it and presenting the lure in such a way as to get a reaction out of it.  It's part hunting and part fishing.  Watching with expectation as the fish inhales the bait is simply exhilarating.  Making as many as 20-30 casts to the same fish and staying focused is tedious.  Being ready when the fish hits is paramount.

This brings up a great discussion.  How to properly set the hook when fishing from a wheelchair?  If you find yourself getting bit but not sticking fish then this article will hopefully remedy that problem.

Courtesy of North Shore Fishing Report
Courtesy of North Shore Fishing Report
For years you have watched these guys on TV who attempt to rip the lips off of fish when they set the hook.  They reel down and look like someone competing in an Olympic power lifting competition.  It's a big sweeping move followed by walking backwards in their boats.  Impressive!  And, wrong for me and you.  If you are using a rod with zero flex, the fish is in deep heavy cover, and you are standing almost above it, this maneuver is effective.  But for us who are fishing from a chair, it's wrong on so many levels.

First off, using the correct type of rod is key.  Please refer back to this article for selecting the best rod for yourself.    With a medium flex rod, many times the fish sets the hook on themselves, which is nice.  Once you have a rod that will allow you to load up on the fish, it really comes down to technique and speed.

Courtesy of Neil Mcnicoll Photagraphy
When I was a teenager, Jimmy Houston had one of the best fishing shows on TV.  He actually took time on one episode to talk about the mistake mentioned above that many anglers make when setting the hook.  The Super-Man hook set should be replaced with something more akin to's all about generating speed!  Great boxers do big time damage with the quick jabs instead of the over hand bomb.

Mistake #1 - Most people who routinely miss fish on the hook set are usually guilty of reeling up too much slack.  "Hey wait, I thought you weren't supposed to have any slack?"  If you have no slack at all, you will pull the bait out of the fish's mouth. In order to create the speed necessary to drive the hook and barb into the fish's pallet, there needs to be about 4-6 inches of slack.  If you are in proper contact with the bait during the retrieve, simply dipping the rod (no reel up) to give the necessary slack and then loading up on the fish will plant the hook deep enough for a good hook set.  This is critical when sight fishing for spawning bass.

Mistake #2 - I have never understood why people do this but when they set the hook, they put their arms above their heads.  Whuuut?  By doing this they have just eliminated all the leverage the rod is designed to give them.  In the same TV episode, Houston asked this great question, "When you open a jar of pickles and the cap is on super tight, where do you put it, in your gut or above your head?"  By sticking the butt of the rod anywhere in your mid-section from chest to lower stomach and using your body weight to set the hook, you are able to release all of the potential energy that is stored in the rod directly into the hook.  You are also in a much better position to fight a fish.

Mistake #3 - People who miss fish also have a bad habit of having their rod tip out of position.  The tip will be pointing away from the bait...bad form.  This position gives you very limited range of motion to set the hook.  It's a killer for a disabled fisherman.  If the rod tip is pointed towards the bait as it is being retrieved, then you will have all of the range of motion you need to drive the hook into the fish.  Also, remember to sweep the rod opposite of the direction the fish decides to run.  Again, this is crucial to your success when going after spawning bass.

Hope it helps.  Tight lines!

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