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I'm fairly new to fishing, been fishing 3-4 times/ week for the last 2 months, and have had fairly good luck with plastic worms (mainly wacky rigged). I generally wait a fair amount of time when I feel the nibble and see my line go down before I set the hook as this is how i learned to do it. However, today I hooked two bass through the gills and for sure one didn't make it. Being a sportsman, I always catch and release and hate to see a good fish die. Am I waiting too long to set the hook? Should I set it right when I feel the nibble? Any suggestions would be appreciated as I don't want to kill any more fish. Thanks guys.

-Pete
North Chicago fisherman
 

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Pete,

There are going to be some times when you guthook a fish and there is nothing you can do about it. Don't worry too much about it. It happens.

I fish the wacky worm a lot and the fish don't always hit the same way so there is not one answer that always applies. I don't think you can set it too fast but you can definitely wait too long. If you are always waiting for the fish to swim off, you'll miss fish because they drop it and you'll also gut-hook more than you care to since they'll swallow it.

I think this whole question come down to the subtle, hard-to-detect strikes. The bass with obvious line-jumping or line swimming-off strikes are easy to catch. It's the questionable hits that are tough. If I am unsure of a hit, I set the hook if I feel weight. Since I fish the wacky on semi-slack line, when I feel a possible hit, I'll reel up the slack and if I feel weight, I'll set it. Now sometimes if the fish are aggressive and it's an obvious hit, I won't even wait till I feel weight; I detect the hit, reel up the slack, and set it all in one motion.

Just yesterday I had one of these occassions. I was fishing a laydown and I got bit. I didn't know if it was a strike at first. I simply reeled up the slack and felt a little weight- bam- I set it on a 2lb bass. If I pulled the senko, the bass probably drops it.

Hope it helps. Good fishing.
 

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For me, when to set the hook on bass is debatable among fisherman. I personally set the hook when I feel the tap-tap on a plastic worm or unusual resistance on a spinnerbait or search lure. But others may disagree.

How I set the hook isn't debatable, at least for me.

Some people set the hook at 12 o'clock. They face the fish and set the hook directly toward their face/body. This has become a very exciting technique with an empty lure rocketing back toward my face. Since I'm right handed, I set the hook at about 1 or 2 o'clock. As I face the "theoretical" fish, I set the hook more towards my right shoulder, at an angle. That way, if there is no fish, a lure will go zinging over my right shoulder, not towards my face.

Also, another "how" method. I use lines now that have very little stretch in them and when I fish, there's very little slack in my line. When I set the hook, the fish knows it.

For better or worse, I set the hook once, and if I have the fish, I set the hook one more time. What fish I do catch rarely get away. But recently I lost a 2 pound bass or more at Deep Lake because I was using a spinnerbait with a hook that was not prickly enough. Hook sharpness matters.

So I can't tell you much about "when" to set the hook. I just have my preferences on "how" I set the hook.
 

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I fish with octupus circles when wacky rigging senko type baits. They significantly decrease fish mortality because the fish is most often hooked in the corner of the mouth due to the hooks design. A quick sideways sweep is all that is needed when setting the hook.
 

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Paul S said:
Since I fish the wacky on semi-slack line, when I feel a possible hit, I'll reel up the slack and if I feel weight, I'll set it. Now sometimes if the fish are aggressive and it's an obvious hit, I won't even wait till I feel weight; I detect the hit, reel up the slack, and set it all in one motion.
This is right on for wacky senko fishing. If you are using it as a target bait. You want to have a little slack in your line so the fish doesn't feel resistence when it picks up or strikes the senko. When you think you are getting bit. Reel in the slack and set the hook. This is sufficient time to let the fish to get enough of the senko. It is different when you fish wacky Vs. texas rigged. The hook is in the middle of the wacky, therefor even if the fish lips half of it. It will still most likely have the hook. Texas rigged hooks are farther up the senko.( Unless you are going with a small senko and big hook). I usually delay my hook-sets on the texas rigged senkos. And make sure I have a solid hook-set.
 

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FishinMatt said:
I fish with octupus circles when wacky rigging senko type baits. They significantly decrease fish mortality because the fish is most often hooked in the corner of the mouth due to the hooks design. A quick sideways sweep is all that is needed when setting the hook.
Matt, do you use the o-rings around the senko and hook the o-ring? I have been doing this for quite a while now. It works great and keeps the senkos in good condition for a lot longer since you are not actually hooking the senko. When a fish hits and you set the hook. The senko will most of the time slide up the line.
 

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I've looked at them, but never messed with them. I just consider losing a soft plastic the same as going through live bait. Normally I am one and done with them if I am seriously fishing anyways. Nothing like a fresh Dinger full of salt :wink:
 

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Seebass said:
FishinMatt said:
I fish with octupus circles when wacky rigging senko type baits. They significantly decrease fish mortality because the fish is most often hooked in the corner of the mouth due to the hooks design. A quick sideways sweep is all that is needed when setting the hook.
Matt, do you use the o-rings around the senko and hook the o-ring? I have been doing this for quite a while now. It works great and keeps the senkos in good condition for a lot longer since you are not actually hooking the senko. When a fish hits and you set the hook. The senko will most of the time slide up the line.
But it does alter its sinking motion as more weight has been added. A slower drop usually gets more strikes in my experince.
 
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