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Half Check Set for Light Takes and Cold Water

Half Check Set for Light Takes and Cold Water

Euro Nymphing Tip for Hook Setting

This tip is harder than it appears. Anyone that has done much tight line nymphing has screwed this up. I still occassionally set the hook and wind up in a tree behind me, set on bumps that were just contact with rocks, set the hook back into my rod tip creating a major tangle, and the list goes on and on. I'm not perfect. That moment of limbo as you see the sighter tighten up, or feel that leader so gently coming tight can cause us to lose our minds! It culminates like Buck Fever. Every decision we made up till that point goes out the window and pretty soon we are spooking fish, snagging trees behind us, and setting the hook on little bumps only a moment before a big ol' mossback trout picks up your fly.

Having the psycological fortitude to "Half Check" a suspicious twitch of the sighter or suspicious increase in tension is tough. You really have to make a firm decision that goes something like this.

"I am going to check every suspicous bite befor a full set EVERY TIME".  This means no full hook sets until the fish is on. You'll need to repeat this mantra as your presenting your fly in order for it to stick with you. It's called neuro linguistic programming and is very common in high stress situations like shooting sports, sniper training, and other high stress moments that require calm.

When should you focus on a Half Check?  

  • When you are in sensitive water - meaning if you swipe a full swinging hook set through the sweet spot you might spook that one big fish.  
  • Brush or trees behind or above you. How many times have you set the hook right into a tree you KNEW was there!? Talk yourself through it..... half check half check half check..... say this to yourself as your fly is beginning to make contact.
  • Cold water or situations with soft takes.
  • Tiny flies. If the trout's flavor of choice is a #18 or smaller, work with a Half Check type set and find the set that seems to work best. A take on a #20 nymph is barely perceivable at times and you'll need to just "tension up" and see if the trout's there. If not... drop the tip and let it drift.

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Joe Rotter - April 29, 2022

Thanks for the nice comments everyone, really appreciate it.


Bill Abraham - April 26, 2022

You made my day! I just returned from the Cohocton River in upstate NY with my 12’ pole saw to retrieve my EN dropper rig that I “treed” last week. I retrieved it, spruced it up a bit and caught 3 fish in muddy water (3/4" rain last nite). Then I did it again. I was feeling old and fumbly (75 last week) but better now…I’m not alone! I took NLP training in the ’90’s; will check to see if I kept the training material. On a broader note, a sincere thank you to Joe, Bob and staff for getting me started in EN Spring 2021. I’m having a blast

Elliot Jorgenson - January 4, 2022

Awesome tip. Thanks for continuing to post these Joe!

Eric Keiter-Charles - January 4, 2022

Gonna have to agree with what Andrew said. I just rip the fly out of the water. Never thought to do something like a check. I’m prolly freakin out every fish in the hole.

Andrew Sisson - January 4, 2022

I’ve Totally been doing this the wrong way. No “check” sets have been happening when I fish euro (or any other way)… No, I set the hook like I’m setting on a 1955 Cadillac. Awesome tips. Thanks again, Joe.

Jon Y. - December 27, 2021

I love the fact that you admit to missing fish! It was a good laugh reading some of the text here. You make it so easy to relate to as I find myself setting the hook on things that I instantly realize are just bumps on the bottom.

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