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smallie951

Setting the Hook on Soft Plastics

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Hello All,

I fish A LOT of soft plastics for smallies.... Baby Brush Hogs, Fat Ika, Senco's, Sluggos, worms, Lizards, you name it.  

I'm always frustrated when I don't get a good hook set and I reel in a worm crumpled up on the end of the hook.   I want to improve my hit to land ratio.

So -  I want to hear your thoughts.... when and how do you set the hook with soft plastics....  when you first sense the hit (line moves) ?   After the fish is running with it?  When you feel them pull ?   No slack line ?  Slack Line?   Sweeping set, hard set, quick jerk..... give me the details.  

Thanks!

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I wait about 2 seconds after I feel a hit or the line getting that "heavy" feeling.

My hookset is pretty much just a quick jerk of the wrists as I usually never fish with the hook buried in the worm. I'm always fishing the hook fully exposed or texposed if I can help it. For smallies that is all the time because I'm not around brush or vegetation. To my knowledge......I haven't missed a hookup yet. Now fishing for LM in vegetation is a different story when I have to hide the hook better.

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What kind of hooks are you using?  My favorite by far is the Gamakatsu EWG, and I've experimented with many different brands (so I have a lot of almost full packs of unused worm hooks).  The hook point and the shoulder are directly in line, so they're perfect for senkos, but they still get the fish every time.  Make sure you're using a quality hook, and definitely give it a second or two after you feel or see the strike before you set the hook.

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I had that problem for a while, until like the others said wait for about 2 sec. then set the hook.  I have had better luck with Mustard wide Gap 2/0 and 3/0 for my soft plastics depending on the bait size.  My Rod selection has made a huge difference as well.

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When you detect a bite, lower your rod tip and reel down QUICKLY. When you feel the fish, snap your wrists (snap set) without moving the reel position relative to your body. All of the force is concentrated in the upper portion of the rod. This will drive the hook into the fish and the subsequent fight will drive the hook deeper. NEVER double set, this does more harm than good.

I assure you, if you will practice using the snap hook-set, your ratios will improve dramatically.

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I use Gamakatsu EWG hooks - I've used 2/0 through 4/0.   I fish almost everything "Texposed" and  I make sure the bait isn't too tight, per GYCB instructions.   I am currently using a 4/0 hook on a baby brush hog, but I think the fish I am missing are less than 1 lb runts, so maybe going down in hooksize would help.

I will work on the "snap" hook set as RW described.  I tend to use a long "sweep set" with a lot of reel movement.  Perhaps that is the problem.    

Don't get me wrong, I catch my fair share, I'm always looking to get better !

P.s. - Davis, I must admit, considering the BASS pro's land to strike % in some tournaments is around 40%, it's pretty impressive that you've "never missed a hook-up" !!   ;)

Also - this is copied directly out of the bass resource article on plastic worms.... :-?

When a strike occurs (you'll feel a tap on your line or detect movement in the line), immediately lower the rod tip and bring the rod back overhead sharply. This slack-line hookset will drive the hook point into the bass' tough jaw. Never allow a bass to swim with the worm. On the strike, set the hook as quickly as possible. Always set the hook with a strong upward jerk. However, you don't need to tear the boat seat out of the boat on the hookset. If you're rigged right, the bass will practically hook itself.

So it sounds like there as many techniques as there are fisherman!

Keep the opinions coming....

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Since fish don't have hands, when I feel them I assume the bait is in their mouths so I set the hook.

You didn't mention how you are rigging.  If you are not using Texskin, you might try it.

http://www.insideline.net/articles/rigging-guide.html

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Since fish don't have hands, when I feel them I assume the bait is in their mouths so I set the hook.

LOL...I agree and am the same.  

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I mentioned in the post above I fished texposed.... I attached a different pic at the bottom.  Sorry to confuse....

In general, after doing some more reading on various websites this is the general consensus...

1.  With Texas rigging, set the hook quickly using a sharp "snap set".

2.  With Carolina rigging, wait for a pull, then use a longer "sweep set"

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P.s. - Davis, I must admit, considering the BASS pro's land to strike % in some tournaments is around 40%, it's pretty impressive that you've "never missed a hook-up" !! ;)

I have only came back into the fishing game this year. I fish a small creek called the Cattaraugus.

When the hook isn't buried in the worm you don't need a huge hookset. I'm 28 years old and the last time I was smallie fishing was when I was an early teenager. I probably missed some fish than, but this year I have gone around 8-10 outings and NEVER missed one yet. Not catching monster numbers when I go out but I manage to grab 3-5 SM for the two hours that I'm by the creek. You don't have to believe me but I know that I'm not lying. The smallmouth come up out of Erie into this creek and they are very aggressive.

Like I said though.....as soon as I start to bury that hook for LM fishing in heavy cover than my hookups go way way way down. Thats when I start to miss the fish.

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smallie951,

Man, that's quite a fish! How much did that big momma weigh?

Regarding hook-up and landing. I don't know where 40% comes from, but I'm no pro and my hook-up ratio is WAY better than 80% overall. With single hooks I would estimate 95% and once hooked-up, my landing ratio is north of there. (Of course I am talking about bites I detect; can't comment on bites I'm not aware of getting.)  

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Remember to keep tight lines as well smallie. Thats a big factor right there. You get limp in the line and that smallie jumps.....there is a good chance right there it will be shaken free.

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RW -

Thanks -   That one was right at 6 lb.   It was loooooong.... around 23 inches, but up in Canada they aren't nearly as thick as the footballs in Erie.  

I got that 40% number from a B.A.S.S. website where they were tracking the top pro's % for the year.  I was surprised at how low it was, but they are probably counting the number of times the pro sets the hook, whether or not it was a real bite or a snag, who knows.  

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Great fish!

Back to hook-ups:

Yea, it's gotta be something weird to come up with that number.

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I hit the river today and caught 4 smallies in about an hour using a carolina rigged baby brush hog....  100% strike to land ratio, so maybe your encouragement helped!

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I hit the river today and caught 4 smallies in about an hour using a carolina rigged baby brush hog.... 100% strike to land ratio, so maybe your encouragement helped!

But 100% never happens. ;) ;D

Glad to here ya got going.

Never thought to throw a carolina rigged plastic. Thanks for the idea.

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