The elation of watching a good fish hit the net is difficult to explain to non-fishing folks.
Conversely, few things match the hurt of a tight line suddenly going limp as a solid trout swims back into it's home unaware of the pain felt by the angler just a few feet away. Don’t let people fool you when they say they never mind if a hooked fish doesn’t hit the net. In some cases that might be true, but when a great fish is hooked anglers want to land it.
The secret to increased hooked-to-landed ratio often times starts in the hookset.
Most nymph and dry fly drifts will start upstream and work their way back towards us. This can be used to our advantage when looking at a solid hookset that will land more fish. In typical cases, trout are facing upstream waiting for bugs and other foodstuffs to float past. That’s why we cast upstream and allow our flies to drift down, but it also aides in a hookset that will wrangle in more fish.
When a fish strikes, a quick jerk downstream is the best type of hookset to keep fish buttoned during the fight. If the hookset is executed correctly, it’s the perfect angle to successfully lodge the flies in the corner of a fishes mouth.
At this point, it’s all about maintaining proper tension on the line while slowly and methodically bringing the fish closer to the net!
Another hookset strategy to land more fish can be the multiple set rule. It’s something that’s employed more frequently using large streamers for toothy predators, but it can also be utilized for trout. After a fish is hooked, give a second or third more subtle hookset just to ensure the hooks are firmly entrenched.
It’s important not to apply too much pressure, as this can result in snapped flies or line, but a secondary hookset can convert poorly hooked trout into more fish in the net.
Lost fish are a part of life for anglers, but it still hurts each time we go from the high of a hooked trout to the disappointment of slack line. A solid hookset can be the first step towards minimizing this situation, whether that be the sharp jerk downstream of a secondary hookset once the fish is hooked.