Conventional wisdom says you should always strip-set when trying to hook pike or muskies on the fly, and it certainly doesn’t hurt. But what we found most critical wasn’t so much the set as making sure to keep the rod tip low to the water, or even submerged a few inches, on the retrieve. Most pike piled on so hard that the low rod angle made them hook themselves, and we could lift the rod immediately after the strike. Sharp hooks helped in this department, too. When hits were subtler, or the fish bit and swam at us, it then became necessary to jab the fish with a strip-set. But this, too, only worked well if the rod tip was low to begin with.