Since fisherman argue about nearly every topic presented to them it should come as no surprise that they argue about how and when to set the hook on swimbait fish. What makes this particular discussion so interesting is that both of the anglers involved have proven their method’s effectiveness. I (Matt Allen) believe that a hard and immediate hook set is the key to putting big bass in the boat consistently. On the other side of the fence you have my good friend Sieg Taylor. Sieg prefers to continue reeling then slowly applies hard pressure to the fish. While I staunchly oppose his method I must admit that I’ve seen it work for him on numerous occasions. Take a look at both approaches and then decide for yourself.
Let’s start with my approach:
When I am reeling and feel a fish “tick” my swimbait I hit them hard, really hard. I don’t believe there is any reason to wait. I don’t drop the rod and rear back, I don’t speed up my reeling, I simply swing high and to the side as soon as I feel pressure. I’ve personally seen too many fish suck a swimbait in and spit it back out quicker than the angler can react so why take your time and increase the likelihood of this happening to you? I believe that swimbaits target big bass and that big bass are inherently more cautious than small bass. Waiting to set the hook allows the fish too much time to realize something isn’t right. Setting the hook hard and fast allows you to bury the hooks deep while there is still time. Here is a prime example of my hook-setting style.
Sieg Taylor’s Approach:
Sieg and I spoke over the phone and he had some great insights to share. When asked how he sets the hooks he responded, “I don’t, I let them eat it. Once I know they’ve eaten the bait I reel hard and heavy, then swing them into the boat. Whether they’re 5 pounds or 10 pounds I swing them in.” He went on to share some of his experiences that led to his hook-setting style when he said, “When I won a Won Bass Pro-Am I actually saw it happening. I saw a 9 lber bumping the head of the swimbait over and over again. She would bump one side then the other. She was moving so quickly I could hardly see her motions. Instead of swinging I just kept a steady pace, that is when she inhaled it. The key is to keep reeling at the same speed. If the cadence breaks, you’re in trouble. If you swing and its not in their mouth, they’re gone.” Here is a prime example of Sieg’s hook setting style. If you watch closely you can see the fish has been on for several seconds before he leans back on the rod.
**Sieg asked that I add the true weight of this fish. Upon being weighed she tipped the scales at 8.56 lbs. Those Clearlake fish can be very misleading but Sieg wanted you all to know the final weight.
In closing, I’m not sure there is a right answer. Neither of us will waiver on our methods because we’ve both proven time and time again that they work. The next time you’re on the water give both methods a try then come back and share your experiences with the group. I look forward to hearing your thoughts. Until then, make your next day on the water a great one!