To Set or Not to Set

We hear it all the time from coaches of various sports. Simple reminders like:

  • “Put the glove on the ground.”

  • “Cut to the basket.”

  • “Play defense.”


Players know these things, yet a little reminder every now and then helps maintain focus to get the job done. The same goes with fishing.

Here are few reminders for one of the most important events in fishing, the hook set.

  • “If the lure drops-twice… You might need a hook set.”

  • “If the line turns… You might need a hook set.”

  • “If you are fishing with soft – plastics on the bottom and feel a thump… count to 2 and you might need a hook set.”

  • “If you have been in contact with the bottom and suddenly don’t feel anything… you might need a hook set.”

  • “If a mostly taut line get really slack… you might need a hook set.”

  • “If that piece of hotdog moves… you might need a hook set.”


My son recently felt a smallmouth fight briefly, but he never set the hook and it quickly shook off. “I thought it was just a rock,” he explained.

“If you feel any bump, set the hook anyway,” I advised and a little ways down river he landed his largest smallmouth bass of the year.

“I never would have caught that fish, if you hadn’t reminded me.”

Maybe. Maybe not. But as Bassmaster Elite angler Tommy Biffle likes to say, “Jerks are free.”

Andy Whitcomb

Andy Whitcomb

Andy Whitcomb is a columnist, outdoor humorist, and stressed-out Dad. He says there are “people who fish”… and there are “fishermen”.  One of the few things he knows is that he is a “fisherman”...  To the point it could be classified as borderline illness.  Sharing this obsession is rewarding, therapeutic. He likes to encourage people to “stop and smell the crappie."  Enjoys catching fish, but gets a greater thrill out of helping someone else hook up.
Born in Florida, but raised on the banks of Oklahoma farm ponds. Now relocated to western Pennsylvania. He has fished, worked, lived all around the US.  He has a B.S. in Zoology from Oklahoma State as well...
And he met his wife while electrofishing. He has been contributing weekly to since 2011.