Video Pro Tips: How to Set the Hook While Swinging Flies

When you are swinging flies–whether you’re after steelhead, salmon, or trout–you need to think differently about the hook set. If you raise your rod at the first hint of a strike, you may end up pulling the fly out of the fish’s mouth. You may have heard of British anglers saying “God save the Queen” before setting, and other anglers holding a loop of slack that they drop before setting.

Here’s a great lesson from longtime Alaska guide Trevor Covich. He has had the chance to watch hundreds of clients make thousands of hook sets on fish, and he has acquired valuable insight on the best way to set the hook on a swung fly presentation.

6 thoughts on “Video Pro Tips: How to Set the Hook While Swinging Flies”

  1. One of the finest “how-too” videos I have seen in a long while. And, some of those fish are pretty amazing..

  2. Trevor’s lesson here is well worth learning. He is absolutely correct. You must remember that steelhead and salmon are generally not eating when running the river. Steelhead, maybe a little, but not salmon. They take a fly in response to some sort of agitation or stimulus. And when they hit, they hit hard because they’re upset. They don’t nibble. They don’t inhale like they would if they were feeding on a chironomid. Once the pressure is felt on the line, you know the hook is starting to penetrate some area of the jaw. And when the fish turns away and begins to run in response to the hook pain, the run is not gentle; it’s hard. The fish will hook itself and the harder it runs, the deeper the hook is set. We don’t need to set it any deeper. The fish will do that. Will the fish get off? Sometimes. After all, we’re using barbless hooks for a reason. I had this exact experience fishing steelhead on the Bulkley River in northern British Columbia last fall. I felt some pressure. Then I felt a head shake. Then another. I put the side pressure on and waited. The steelhead took off like a rocket with three or four launches into the air. It was thrilling, as they always are. Did I land the fish? Hey, I writing this post aren’t I? You do the math.

  3. Awesome video!! And very very well done. I’ve watched this dozens of times, Not just for the information but seeing fish hooked on the swing. I think this is a lesson we should all learn and I myself still bother my own mind thinking about some of the big Atlantic’s I’ve pulled to quick on.. ugh the sadness lol.. But tight lines ! It was a wonderful video and something I’ll try to get in to the habit of !

  4. Great video. This can also be applied to swinging baitfish flies for spring run striped bass in Southern rivers.

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