When Is It OK To Snag A Fish In The Mouth?

In the perfect scenario, a trout rises and sips down your dry fly. If you wait too long to set the hook then, what happens? Right. It spits the fly.
And, sometimes, in fact, you foul-hook that fish. I remember once fouling a brown on the Bighorn, and after guide Dan Stein plucked the nymph out of the trout's tail, he said, "It ate it, and crapped it out … you were too slow." Well, not literally, but the point was well taken.

All of which leads me to ask if it is really dirty pool to set the hook when you aren’t 100 percent sure? Isn’t that just improving your odds by getting the jump on the fish? Dare I say that being a bit quicker on the draw might actually decrease the snag factor?

No doubt, intentional snagging is bad form. Foul hookups will happen, but less often among good anglers.

Believe me, even if you mini-set, you’ll still miss a good percentage of takes that you cannot see under the surface. I’m just not sold on the argument that setting the hook first and asking questions later is an angling sin. Just a thought … tell me what you think.