Topher’s Tips: Setting the Hook with a Wet Fly

If you tend to be quick on the draw when fishing a wet fly for salmon, the worst cure for the habit is a week of “bottom-bouncing” for trout with a nymph rig shortly before your trip to salmon country. A quick hook-set is effective when fishing a dead-drift nymph for trout. It’s not productive to pull the instant your wet fly stops when fishing for salmon. There is an innate tendency to react when someone or something pulls at us. It’s a hard habit to break.

Fishing directly from the reel does not eliminate this proclivity to pull, but it does mitigate some of its downside. As the rod hand does not pinch the line against the cork grip, it’s difficult to hold on to the line. If you raise the rod as soon as the fly stops, line is pulled directly from the reel. The requisite slack is fed to the fish as he turns with the fly. If you are a precipitate puller, fishing directly from the reel is not only a temporary solution to the problem but also paves the way to an eventual cure.

Topher and Camp Bonaventure guide Mario Poirier

It is still better to do absolutely nothing when the fly stops. I have fished directly from the reel for the last 20 seasons. I’ve trained my hands to remain soft as the fly comes around. I touch the line lightly with the middle finger of my rod hand. When a salmon pulls line from the reel, I use the sound as an audible barometer to gage the strength of the take. I then slowly and smoothly raise the rod until it takes a nice bend. It’s not fancy but it works.