“How to Set a Hook?” Fishing tips and techniques for catching more fish

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 Today, were going to talk to you about Setting a hook and in the end,  were going to see what happens when we use different amounts of force and techniques on setting a hook.

How to Set a Hook?

Factors that affect how you Set a Hook

Lets get started about hook set. There are lots of factors that affect how you Set a Hook, then it affects your hook set that includes the gear you use, the fish youre going after, the techniques youre using but one of the biggest factors is the type of hook you use. 

Fishing with J Hook

You do not Set a Hook the same way with circle hooks as you do with J hooks. Now I’m using the phrase J hook, very broadly, but basically what I mean is circle hooks are any hook where the point of the hook is bent about 90 degrees. 

J hooks are what I’m calling all other hooks where the point of the hook is more or less parallel to the shank of the hook. When youre fishing with a J hook, the hook is properly inside the fishs mouth. 

You want to go and jerk the line and pull it hard to deliver enough force to drive the point of that hook deep into the fishs mouth. You want it to go past the barb and all the way to the bend of the hook. 

Fishing with Circle Hook

When fishing with circle hooks, you dont Set a Hook the same way as you do with J hooks. You dont pick up the rod and jerk it. You leave the rod in the rod holder. You reel down as fast as you can and let that rod tip bend over and once you feel that rod is really loaded up then you pick up the rod. 

You fight the fish very simple, this makes it a lot easier for beginners and the timings much less important with circle hooks. 

Experimentation with circle hooks

Lets do a little experimentation with circle hooks. Got one sad little channel catfish and I’ve got an 8 ott Gamakatsu circle hook. 

When the fish bites the hook, you can go and jerk the hook, the hook loft, just pop right out of the fishs mouth. But if you let the fish swim off with it, he goes and turns around and swims with it.  Catches them in the corner of the mouth just like that hey thats what the circle hook is designed to do.

 When fish bite the hook, they dont swim backward, what they do is they bite the hook and they turn around and go back or they keep going or whatever. But when that hook tries to leave the mouth weak. It comes out of the corner. 

How much force it takes to properly Set a Hook on a circle hook?

Now what were gonna do is figure out how much force it takes to properly Set a Hook on a circle hook.

This is the whisker seeker catfishing rod, its the chad Ferguson series, the medium-heavy power, 7,5- foot rod. Its my primary catfishing rod and I’ve got 40-pound spiderwire braid on it. 

  • I’m gonna reel it in, so theres no slack in the line and then I’m gonna put the hook in the fishs mouth, and I’m gonna pull it away from the rod and see how much the rod bends before the hook point pops out of the quarter. 
  • I’ve placed the hook inside the fishs mouth, and hes gonna swim away with it. That is a very aggressive bend. Thats how far the rod has to bend over before that circle hook pops through the corner of the fishs mouth. 
  • This fish had to swim about six feet before there was enough pressure generated to pop the hook out of the corner of his mouth.


How to unhook a circle hook?

Let me show you how to unhook a circle hook. Circle hooks have to twist into the fishs mouth and they have to twist out. What you do is to grab it and you push it down as far as itll go and then you jiggle, and then it pops out. Twist- jiggle- removes.

How to timing it right?

One of the most important and difficult parts about Setting a hook is timing it right. you dont want to Set a Hook too early otherwise jerk the bait and lure away from the fish. You dont want to set it too late otherwise, the fish spits the hook or swallow it. 

When your lure fishing you tend to want to Set a Hook as soon as the fish takes the lure into his mouth. Its a lure, the fish is going to realize its not real pretty quickly. So you dont want to sit there and wait as soon as its in the mouth you jerk the hook. 

When your bait fishing with the J hook, one of the big concerns is whether or not the fish is going to swallow the hook. 

When the fish takes that bait into his mouth and taste it and sees it its good. Hes going to swallow that into a stomach and then its gonna be very difficult to get that hook out of the fishs stomach without killing the fish. You want to Set a Hook before the fish swallows it. 

What I generally tend to do is wait until the bait is in the fishs mouth and then give it a second or two. The timing on this is different for every different species of fish. 

If you want to avoid fish swallowing the hook, make sure that you leave plenty of hook point exposed. 

If you cover the entire hook point and all in bait, you greatly increase the chances that fish is gonna swallow the bait. It can also interfere with your hook set by covering up the point and making it difficult for the point to get in the fishs mouth. 

How much force you need to Set a Hook?

How much force you need to Set a Hook varies dramatically based on:

  • The type of fish youre going after
  • The size of the hook
  • The sharpness of the hook
  • Whether youre fishing with monofilament, fluorocarbon or braid
  • Whether youre close up or far away
  • Whether your drag set hard or not
  • The length and stiffness of the rod youre using
  • The size of the fish; lots of factors affect this.

Generally, the softer the fishs mouth the smaller the hooks; the sharper the hooks the less force it takes to drive the point home. 

If youre fishing with flies very tiny like number 22 flies, youve got to be careful because you can Set a Hook so hard that you rip the fly out of the fishs mouth. Its like tearing someones earring out of their ear; the same thing with carp. 


The carp a very soft mouth and youre using small sharp hooks. If you Set a Hook aggressively, you can literally pair that hook straight through the flesh of the left. 

Other fish like tarpon have extremely bony mouths.  You got to Set a Hook like a champion to get that hook point in as I mentioned earlier.

Fishing tips and techniques to catch more fish

I bought some fish and were doing a little experimentation to demonstrate what hook sets look like when done properly.

The first experiment

  • The setting

I have a two-pound striped bass. Ive got a dial was 30 Pound J Braid. Ive got a 2 Watt Jig head hook,  Ilyn rod with a table Garcia reel 

Just so you know J hook with a weighted jig head on it, and were going to see how much force it takes to Set a Hook properly on this Im going to go ahead and put it in his mouth.

 Were going to drop them in the water; Ive got the drag crank down. Ive got the slack out of the line. Im going to start off with a really sissy hook set and work my way up. 

Im gonna put the hook back in with the point towards the top of the mouth, and were gonna try this again and see if that changes. 

  • The conclusion: 

Ive Set a Hook on this fish bajillion times, and Ive learned a few things. 

  • First off, where the hook point catches in the fishs mouth makes more of a difference than anything else. 
  • If it hooks in the soft spots in the corner of the mouth, it doesnt matter. 
  • If youre barely Setting a hook, youre going to get a good hook set.
  • If the point of the hook hits that bony plate. Even if you set really hard, theres a good chance the fish is going to get away. 
  • The other takeaway is to check the condition of your hooks regularly. But you do want to Set a Hook as aggressively as you can just in case. It makes a difference.

The second experiment

Not all fish are the same so lets try the same experiment again with yellowtail. Lets also call the Japanese, Theacobia or a Salmon or any of those types of fish.

  • The Setting

 Medium Hook set activate,I did pretty well. There Its in there pretty good that went in past— the barb. 

There so we got that in there pretty good. Thats the point of the hook. So we got the point of the hook out the side of his face. So that worked well. 

  • The conclusion

The hardness and texture of the yellowtail are much more uniform than the bass, and so the results of our hook set were much more uniform as well an excellent medium power hookset or better did the job every tuck. If youre fishing for salmon or trout or other fish with similar mouths, thats probably the same rule of thumb. 

You need to do kind of a good medium hook set, and youll be fine well any rate. SAM AND MARY hope you guys found this information helpful. I hope it taught you a little bit more about fishing.  


avatar I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.

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