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When I first started bass fishing, I read an article that stated when you feel a tap on a plastic worm to wait, and let the fish swim off, taking out slack, then set the hook. This worked only part of the time. Some bass would pick up the bait, and not swim off, leaving you waiting. Others would slowly swim off, then drop the bait, again leaving you with no chance of hooking the fish. Many times I never felt a tap, but realized a fish had the bait when I lifted the rod to move the bait. Bass are too unpredictable. Some days each strike is slightly different, some with a " tap tap" feeling, others with very little feel at all. Now I never wait. If I feel anything out of the ordinary on a retrieve I set the hook. Because of this, I've set the hook into water, weeds, wood , rocks and everything else on the lake bottom, but my notes through time show an increase in fish hooked by not waiting. Strikes on soft plastics can vary from day to day, even the same day on the same lake. But that "tap " is an addicting thing. Is it as exciting as a topwater strike? I think so. You feel what you perceive as a strike, your addrenillan is up right away. Is it a good bass or a small fish? You know only when you set the hook.My own notes through the years also show another recurring thing: almost all of the better bass I've caught struck the bait with a lighter strike than smaller fish , sometimes very little feel in the strike at all. What's your preferred method for hooking bass on soft plastics? Do you strike quickly or wait? After all these years I've become addicted to the "tap". In fact, I pretty much live for it.

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The bigger bass that I’ve caught, sometimes their strike is a lot more subtle than the smaller ones. The smaller ones in my experience have consistently done the tap..tap..tap style hit. The bigger ones seem to be more of a thud...then I feel and see my line start to move. Top water is kinda the same I think. I’m not a very experienced top water guy but have caught a lot of them with a plopper, frog, etc. For me it was waiting to not set the hook immediately which took what seemed like forever to learn. Honestly, I can’t say which one is more exciting though lol. Top water is a visual stimulation and worms or whatnot are more of a psychological one. 

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Always heard the first tap is the fish inhaling it, the second tap it spitting it out.  Don’t know if that’s true but I set the hook as soon as I feel the tap normally. Now the tap, tap, tap usually is a smaller fish but not always.  Seems a bigger fish will either thump it, the line will start moving to the side or it’ll just get heavy.

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If you think about it, larger fish feeling like a lighter bite makes sense. A smaller fish will often bite the lure and even shift it around with a second repositioning bite before swallowing it. A larger fish will inhale the lure by suction, and what you feel may be the lure moving before it even contacts the inside of the mouth. Of course this depends on the relative size between the fish and the bait. As far as setting the hook on the tap, yup right away, but not in a herky-jerky "gotta catch a train" fluster. reel down evenly, one of 2 things will happen (sometimes a third, but seldom) The fish will think his meal is getting away, or the texposed hook point will find a stopping point. Either is fine, continue to load the rod, and set the hook. One last thing, the tap is more of a tick, what some folks believe to be the tap is more like a thud, and that is the fish spitting out the lure, and now you're too late, and the confusion ensues "do I wait or do I strike?"... 

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"When it don't feel right, set the hook!" A quote from Hank Parker.

 

Hank suggested this at an old Bassmasters University in the 90's.

 

He said to get your rig ready to fish, cast it out, and get a good "feel" as to how the entire rig feels without any fish on it. Then reel it in and start to fish.

 

Then, while fishing, if the set up feels "different" in any way, you set the hook.

 

I do this all the time and have learned to duck and move when the bait comes flying out of the water back to me.

 

You have to learn to do this with each setup as sometimes you will not feel any "tap tap" as the bass either sits there with your bait in its mouth or picks it up and swims away, slowly.

 

Only problem I have with this philosophy is the tap tap from bream or crappie. Can drive you nuts.

 

 

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Since I do so much weightless Senko fishing there's a few things you have to take into account on a hookset.  Generally, due to the conditions, the fish will either be agressive, hard tap, or somewhat passive, pick up and move.  Once I determine that, then I will adjust my hooksets.  A Senko is unique since a lot of your bites will come on the fall as opposed to being a bottom bouncing bait (shakeyhead, Ned, Dropshot, etc.) or a moving bait (crank, spinnerbait, chatterbait, etc.).  Each situation requires a different hookset.  Another fairly unique thing about a Senko is that I have found, the fish will "come back" much more often than other baits if you miss them on a hookset.  They also have a tendency to "hold on" more to a Senko so you can lift your rod tip and "feel" the pulse of a fish swimming or the extra weight.  But......yes, we all live for that tap.:wink1:

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20 minutes ago, Sam said:

"When it don't feel right, set the hook!" A quote from Hank Parker.

 

Hank suggested this at an old Bassmasters University in the 90's.

 

He said to get your rig ready to fish, cast it out, and get a good "feel" as to how the entire rig feels without any fish on it. Then reel it in and start to fish.

 

Then, while fishing, if the set up feels "different" in any way, you set the hook.

 

I do this all the time and have learned to duck and move when the bait comes flying out of the water back to me.

 

You have to learn to do this with each setup as sometimes you will not feel any "tap tap" as the bass either sits there with your bait in its mouth or picks it up and swims away, slowly.

 

Only problem I have with this philosophy is the tap tap from bream or crappie. Can drive you nuts.

 

 

I agree Sam. Bream will tap a worm all day long! I've set the hook , and missed many a bream in the process

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8 minutes ago, Mobasser said:

I agree Sam. Bream will tap a worm all day long! I've set the hook , and missed many a bream in the process

Sean, I remember casting a Senko and it never started to sink after hitting the water.

 

I then realized she had it in her mouth and was just sitting under the surface.

 

She was a nice three pounder.

 

Owe that success to Hank Parker and his suggestion.

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I agree completely with the difference in the bite with different size bass.  The 1.5 pounders are easy to feel because they hit it hard.  The big bass always start off with a gentle tug of war.  I think I feel something, I give it a little pull to see what's going on, feel that "live" pull on the other end, and then I hit her.  

 

I still struggle with one thing and it's totally my fault.  I switch rods too much.  I don't have 20 rods so I have a tendency to grab what's available when I want to switch a bait.  If I spend an hour fishing with my Fenwick Elite-Tech XF casting rod and I want to switch to a Carolina rig and I already have one tied on my Duckett Terex fast spinning rod then I grab it and go.  But the difference in "feel" between those two rods is a world apart.  One being XF and one being F is not at all descriptive of the difference.  The two rods are night and day.  So I'll miss some fish when I'm bouncing around between rods too much.  

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I set the hook as soon as I detect a strike . I seem to get better as the day goes on . I have many a "Doh"  moments early , when I realize I just missed a fish .

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1 hour ago, Mobasser said:

but my notes through time show an increase in fish hooked by not waiting.

 

 

almost all of the better bass I've caught struck the bait with a lighter strike 

 

I agree on both of these.

 

One little thing I started doing is as soon as my line goes slack, I drop my rod and "weigh" the jig by lifting my rod up to about a 45, if I feel any different sensation I reel and swing. If not, I keep my rod up until it goes slack (presumably on bottom, hopefully in a Bass mouth) and then repeat. So the "weighing" of the jig is my main retrieve.  When you swing on any different sensation...two things will happen, 1.) Like your notes say, increase of hooked fish. 2.) Increase of lost jigs, but jigs/plastics are fairly cheap.

 

Now that swing and miss just became the second part of my retrieve, like stroking a jig..then repeat...

 

Good thread.

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5 minutes ago, BigAngus752 said:

I switch rods too much....

...So I'll miss some fish when I'm bouncing around between rods too much....  

Patient: "Doctor, I miss fish when I fish the same bait with different rods"

Doctor: "Don't fish the same bait with different rods"

 

Seriously though, once you get to a point in fishing (or any other sport) where mechanics are automatic, any change, that isn't a deliberate attempt to address an issue is a bad thing.

 

 

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A young bass will bite and run without knowing whether the thing in its mouth is even edible. So you get the ‘tap - tap - run’.

 

Over time, a bass learns to sample something first, and it loses the need to run after eating (unless in a school), so you get a tiny little line twitch, then a little more line movement, maybe no run at all. Even when hooked a larger bass will often put up little resistance until it nears the surface.

 

I’m counting on line movement more than the tap, especially in colder water. And although I love the feel of the tap, I love the sound of my drag even more.

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3 hours ago, BassWhole! said:

Patient: "Doctor, I miss fish when I fish the same bait with different rods"

Doctor: "Don't fish the same bait with different rods"

 

Seriously though, once you get to a point in fishing (or any other sport) where mechanics are automatic, any change, that isn't a deliberate attempt to address an issue is a bad thing.

 

 

I'm not switching the same bait to different rods.  That doesn't make sense.  It's when I'm fishing a pegged T-rig and I decide to go to a Carolina rig and I already have one rigged on another rod, or if I'm fishing a 4/0 hook for a big worm and I want to fish a smaller plastic and I already have a 3/0 hook on a different rod.  I have a tendency to just pick up a different rod if it's ready to go rather than cut off and re-tie something new on.  But many times I end up with a totally different rod action along with the new bait.  It can take me a few bites to adjust.  

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Tap, boom, line twitches funny, bait gets heavy, I ****** on anything that feels different. Hooksets are free...

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5 hours ago, scaleface said:

I set the hook as soon as I detect a strike . I seem to get better as the day goes on . I have many a "Doh"  moments early , when I realize I just missed a fish .

Me too. Very early in the morning is when I have "Doh" moments. My grandson is on it more than me. He would never say it, but he's probably thinking "Wake up old timer, you just missed a fish!"

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6 hours ago, BigAngus752 said:

I'm not switching the same bait to different rods.  That doesn't make sense.  It's when I'm fishing a pegged T-rig and I decide to go to a Carolina rig and I already have one rigged on another rod, or if I'm fishing a 4/0 hook for a big worm and I want to fish a smaller plastic and I already have a 3/0 hook on a different rod.  I have a tendency to just pick up a different rod if it's ready to go rather than cut off and re-tie something new on.  But many times I end up with a totally different rod action along with the new bait.  It can take me a few bites to adjust.  

Take my wife, please...

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I agree the the bite is different between smaller and larger fish. For me it depends on what I'm using. If it is a smaller type of soft plastic I hit them as soon as I feel the bite. If I'm using something larger like a 10" worm I try to wait a short time before I set the hook. I've lost several fish on big worms setting the hook too quick.

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You want to set the hook when it's in the basses mouth. Bass don't have hands, it you detect anything set the hook.

Tom

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How the bite feels is affected by not only their activity level and whether or not it's an isolated fish, but on your presentation (C-Rig. drop shot, Mojo Rig, T-rig with a sliding bullet weight, pegged weight, etc. You'll likely only feel the bite 50% of the time. If you only rely on feel, that means you're missing 50% of the fish that take your offering.

You will develop your own rules for when to set the hook when using a plastic worm. Become familiar with the technique your using and how to best set the hook for that technique. Then work on recognizing those other 50%.

 

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tap tap ... start the process to set the hook NOW ....big bass small bass ?... big and small ... how do you know? ... have seen many on MLF fishing say I got a big one ..... only to find out not so big ....  happens to me too ...

 

where I fish the bass are strong fighters .... true ... big ones do not always fight that hard ...

 

caught one big one when I thought I was hung up .... we all have experiences  ... the lmb  and our fishing experiences have different nuances ...

 

good fishing... 

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Three Tap Theory as explained to me by Shaw Grigsby 

 

The first tap the bass has inhaled your lure

 

The second tap the bass has expelled your lure

 

The third tap is me tapping you on the shoulder asking way you didn't set hook!

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7 minutes ago, Catt said:

Three Tap Theory as explained to me by Shaw Grigsby 

 

The first tap the bass has inhaled your lure

 

The second tap the bass has expelled your lure

 

The third tap is me tapping you on the shoulder asking way you didn't set hook!

hey big man ... then why have i caught many bass after the 2nd tap ... you gonna tell me I didn't  ... 

 

good fishing ...

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Most scenarios have been covered fairly well already so I'll just offer my nickel's worth regarding pitching with heavy tungsten (3/4oz and up). I've found that I started converting more bites when I stopped dropping the rod (and hence the weight) before setting. Now when I feel a bite I'll tighten up and set without any slack in the line.  It doesn't seem to matter much with jigs and lighter weights but my guess is they feel the very dense heavy weight drop in their mouth when you drop your rod and are more apt to spit it out right away.

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6 hours ago, greentrout said:

hey big man ... then why have i caught many bass after the 2nd tap ... you gonna tell me I didn't  ... 

 

good fishing ...

 

No one said ya can't...have a nice day!  😉

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