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 is an outdoor writer ( and stressed-out Dad has contributed over 380 blogs to since 2011. Born in Florida, but raised on banks of Oklahoma farm ponds, he now chases pike, smallmouth bass, and steelhead in Pennsylvania. After earning a B.S. in Zoology from OSU, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fisheries research technician at OSU, Iowa State, and Michigan State.