The key to any hook set and fight is making sure you are positioned properly. Before casting into a hole, take a moment to think about where the fish are and where you need to be when the fight begins. Ideally, you want to be downstream of the fish (they are usually facing upstream unless you’re fishing an eddy).


Because creating a proper hook set requires propelling the fly against the direction the fish is facing. If you are upstream of the fish, an attempt to set the hook will usually pull the fly right out of the fish’s mouth. Once the fish is hooked and the adrenaline-filled fight begins, try to stay downstream of the fish for the same reason.

Trout are aggressive when they take streamers and dry flies, however, it can be difficult to determine a hit while nymphing.

How do you distinguish between dragging bottom or getting a strike? 

Recognize that trout tend to be less aggressive in their takes on nymphs than dry flies and streamers. They will spit them out quickly making the hook set vital.⁣

Watch for irregular movement by the indicator such as movement from side to side, stalling, or a forceful downward movement. With practice you’ll begin to be able to tell the subtle difference between a strike and river bottom. This tends to be more of an art than a science. ⁣

Error on the side of setting the hook if you are still unsure if it’s a strike. Setting the hook is free! You might ruin the presentation for the rest of the cast, but more times than not it will end up being a fish.