Better fishing this spring: timing that hookset
The smallmouth were shallow, hungry, and acting like they’d never seen a softbait before. The only problem was that my fishing partner was keyed up and swinging for the fences on every bite as soon as there was any indication a bronzer was gumming up his bait.
This led to a lot of whiffing, which is easy for me to comment on because I got to watch the whole thing transpire, multiple times. He was off by maybe a second or two at most, but that was enough.
This seems to be a hard thing for people to understand, and maybe can only be understood through enough experience, but the reality of rushing a hookset is like rushing a bow shot on a big whitetail. In either case, we get an adrenaline dump and don’t even think about taking our time. The results are usually dismal in either case.
My buddy, who was not only just a little rusty but also pretty hyped up to be sight fishing big smallies, eventually got his timing down. After that, it was pretty much a guarantee that when he reared back, there’d be a big bend in the rod as opposed to immediate cursing.
This isn’t something that just plagues bass fisherman. Walleye fishing with live bait is another area where folks often set too early. It takes a little discipline no matter what you’re fishing for, or what presentations you’re using, but the reality is that you usually have a lot more time than you think. Fish aren’t very intelligent, and they will hold onto baits and lures longer than most of us would guess.
This usually is long enough to reel down, check if it’s still there, and then set the hook properly. It’s a little thing, I know, but can make a big difference on any given day that we spend on the water.