A 5 count?

About the author

Stephen Headrick

Stephen Headrick

Stephen Headrick is better known to the bass fishing world as the Smallmouth Guru. He lives in Celina, Tenn., and is the owner of Punisher Lures.

We had a couple of comments posted by anglers saying they were having trouble getting a good hookset with a frog. I’m not surprised. It can be difficult if you don’t approach it right.

Let me begin by saying that I respect everyone’s opinion about fishing. None of us knows it all and we can all learn from one another. But I have to disagree with the fellow who suggested counting to five before setting the hook. In my opinion, that’s too long and it may actually cause you to lose fish.

With braid I count to two. That lets the fish take the bait but doesn’t give him enough time to turn it around and start to spit it out. A five count gives him enough time to figure out it’s not real. Once the bait turns and is on its way out, there’s no chance of getting a hookset that’ll hold all the way to the boat.

There’s no stretch in braid so as soon as I snap the rod the hook moves forward. If I’m using monofilament, I set the hook even faster. The stretch gives me a little extra time.

This is one of those things that’s easy to talk about but hard to put into practice. Watching a big smallie take a topwater frog and then counting before you try to set the hook is tough. It takes practice and patience. We all want to jerk when we see the swirl.

Don’t feel bad if you miss a few. We all move too fast from time to time — me, guides and professionals. It’s a part of being human. Over time you’ll get better at waiting but you’ll still jerk it away every so often. A topwater attack is just too exciting. It gets the better of all of us.

Another thing to keep in mind is that hook size matters. Most frogs that have the hooks already in them will have big heavy ones. It takes a lot of power to drive one of them into a bass. Don’t be shy or timid. Drive it home as hard as you can.

With the ones where you add your own hook, think about using a smaller, thinner wire model. They’re a heck of a lot easier to drive home. Don’t worry about the hook breaking or straightening. That won’t happen if you set your drag properly. (I’ve landed a bunch of big smallmouth on thin wire hooks and light line.)

I want to mention one other thing before I go. This is the time of year when we’re due for a serious cold snap. A lot of guys have trouble finding the fish when that happens. Start by moving out towards the main lake. Grass flats near creek mouths are prime places. When it warms up, go back to where you were fishing.

Smallmouth bass aren’t largemouth bass. Cold weather and cold water don’t bother them one bit. Take advantage of that.

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