Setting hooks on steelhead [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Setting hooks on steelhead

03-17-2005, 01:35 PM
I had a chance to do some high-sticking for steelhead recently using a 5 wt 10' (TFO) rod and heavily weighted stoneflies, mostly size 12 and 14. I had a bunch of cases where I'd feel the hit, set the hook, have the fish come up to a headshake and 'spit' the hook. :( I now wonder if my 10' 5 wt was too light to set the hook properly. I did switch to an 8 wt and it didn't happen again, but I didn't hook enough fish to conclude anything decisive. So I thought I'd throw out the question here? Is a 10' 5 wt too light to adequately set the hook on a steelhead?

And please, let's not turn this into a discussion of whether a 5 wt is too light to fight steelhead.

03-17-2005, 01:45 PM
Depends on the hook -- a light wire hook should penetrate no problem with a five weight. If it works on a big brown, why not a steelhead? About the loss of fish when they're head shaking -- I'd suggest that this is where your five weight is letting you down.

You didn't say whether you were using barbless or not.

03-17-2005, 01:57 PM
Well, my hooks were Mustad 9671, with barbs. Why/how would a 5 wt be at a disadvantage when a large fish is headshaking?

03-17-2005, 02:02 PM
Josko -

Much of the issue arises from the inherent rod position during high-sticking IMHO. In order for the rod to get loaded, apply tension, overcome the current, and stick the hook it has to be almost behind you with that starting position.

I am by no means a high-stick expert but I would think that using a stripset to the side with the line hand starting high near the stripper would be the best best, and also set to the downriver side to get the belly of the line pulling the fly to the corner of the mouth.

I would also use a fairly large gape light wire hook in this case as well since the 'greaseline' method of setting downcurrent is being employed, or potentially being employed I should say.

I would also pinch the barb for better penetration, but then again I pinch all my barbs.

03-17-2005, 02:55 PM
Well, my hooks were Mustad 9671, with barbs. Why/how would a 5 wt be at a disadvantage when a large fish is headshaking?

As Juro has highlighted, you're in an off-balance postion when hooksetting while highsticking. When using light rods there's more need to play the fish on the butt and the reel. In the highstick position, you're taking the brunt of the initial rush from the fish on the top end of the rod and with a light rod, that puts you at a disadvantage until you can get the rod down into the ideal position. The fish has an opportunity to toss the hook in that brief transition of rod positions. In the high rod position, you're not able to put enough pressure on the fish to keep him pinned up.