How do I know if I have a bite?

There are many ways in which an angler can become aware of a fish that is interested in, or is taking, a bait that has been presented for it. Here are a few!

  • If you are fishing with a float, watch it carefully for any movement. The float may move sideways across the water, it may jiggle about, or it may be pulled down under the water. Try to set the  hook when there is a definite movement of the float.
  • When fishing on the bottom you need to decide whether you will keep the line loose or tight when your rod is at rest and you are waiting for a bite.
  • If you decide to have the line loose, an obvious indication of a fish is when it moves off with the bait and pulls the line taught. This is the time to strike and try to set the hook.
  • If you decide to keep the line tight when you are fishing, keep an eye on the tip of the rod. If you see the rod tip bending down, this is a sign that the fish is taking off with the bait and it is time  to try and set the hook.
  • After you have an indication that a fish is interested in your bait, you may choose to hold the rod in one hand and the line in the other hand. You can feel if the fish is moving away with the bait, and set the hook at the appropriate time.
  • Some anglers like to loosen the drag on the reel so that when a fish takes off with the bait the noise from the reel alerts the angler to the bite. It is then necessary to hold the line and set the  hook, and then tighten the drag to a suitable setting.


Note: At times fish will hook themselves, or swallow the bait completely, and in effect ‘catch’ themselves. However on most occasions it is necessary to see a bite, and then respond to it by striking  and setting the hook. This means that you need to lift the rod tip swiftly at the very moment that you think the fish has the bait securely in its mouth. Working out when to strike is crucial, and this  can only come with experience.

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