When I was a young boy, I was a wimp. Come to think of it, I’m still a wimp, but that’s not the point. The point here is that due to my wimpy-ness I learned early on that if I wanted to catch the fish that was playing with the velveeta cheese ball on the end of my line, I needed to heave mightily with my rod to set the hook. The fact that I probably weighed all of 30 pounds and stood knee high to my father at the time is not immaterial here, nor is the fact that I’ve never been made of muscle. So I learned to jerk that ol’ pole up, and to put everything I had into doing so, lest the watery beast take my cheese or pull a little wimp into the drink.
Eventually I grew in stature and weight, but old habits die hard, and I continued to use the herky-jerky and swing my pole around… (Aren’t those the lyrics to a song?) Anyway, the jerk was my standard hook set until I migrated to light spinning gear and employed a clear plastic bubble and a fly as my terminal tackle. At this point I refined my hook setting technique, and learned to use the “strip set” to great effect, but I still often fell back into my old ways. So by the time my conversion to real fly fishing actually took place, the herky-jerky was fully entrenched, and still my default technique.
Luckily, I crossed paths in those formative years with a few fly fishermen that not only knew what they were talking about, but that were also relentless in their mockery of my… less efficient ways. I can still hear one of them saying to me, “It’s fly fishing, not flying fish.” after I launched a poor little Brook Trout into orbit with my hook set.
My youngest son is no different, and given the right combination of excited anticipation and a smaller than expected fish… he could work for NASA himself. (I guess the apple does’t fall too far from the tree.)
I’m older, and hopefully a little wiser now than I was then, and I believe it has been a fair number of years since I’ve actually launched a fish. Now a simple lifting of the rod tip is about all I ever do, and if I’m really feeling aggressive I might add a little strip set to the mix.
But I can also recall at least two occasions when I had the presence of mind to initiate a roll cast to eliminate the slack I had before me and to set the hook on an unexpected fish. But both of these occasions really just illustrated how poorly I had managed my line, even if Lady Luck had somehow come calling at the opportune time. Irregardless though, the roll cast “set” does strike me as a wonderfully elegant way to set a hook, even if my experiences did come about from a lack of angling proficiency.
So perhaps as I continue to grow in wisdom and angling prowess, I’ll find purposeful ways to employ the roll-cast as an oft used method for setting a hook. But for now, it’s a fluke… an anomaly in my hook setting techniques. But at least I’m no longer jerking.
My wife on the other hand would claim otherwise, as she says I jerk all the time. Just as soon as I fall asleep, she claims, the jerking begins.
I guess I must dream of Velveeta cheese balls.