Original post made by a member no longer with us on April 6, 2003 So you've decided on a rod and reel, and all the terminal tackle. You've chosen the perfect spot and perfect bait but one key issue remains. How do I know when to set the hook? This is a very common question and I'll give you a few tips to help you out. If you are using a spinning reel the most common method is using a circle hook. Simply place the rod in a rod holder and wait for a catfish to bite. The tip will bounce when a cat picks up the bait. When the catfish moves away from you the hook will set itself and the rod will double over. Simply pick up the rod and start reeling. Do not attempt to set the hook! Chances are you will pull the hook out. Using this method is about 95% effective. When using a J style hook you can fish cut bait, worms, crayfish, etc. Now when I say J style I'm referring to all hooks that aren't circle hooks and need to be set by you. After you cast out you can place your rod in a rod holder or simply on a forked stick if on shore. Watch for the tip to start bouncing. When it does, pick up the rod but be sure not to pull away from the fish. This will cause tension and may cause the fish to drop the bait. You know the fish has the bait when you can feel his weight on the other end or if he's pulling away. I usually feel for the fish with my rod parallel to the ground and when I think he has it from the method above I simply pull hard and fast so the rod tip is pointing straight up. Remember to do it hard and fast because the roof of a catfish's mouth is quite hard. I've seen lots of videos of catfisherman almost falling over backwards to set the hook. I've fallen over backwards several times. This method can also be used with casting reels when the bail is closed. This method is about 80% effective. The hookup ratio could be higher but sometimes cats bite tentatively or are too small for the hook size being used. During night time outings when you need to see your rod tip a method I like to use is taping a glow stick on the end of my rod tip. These are available at Walmart and are about $3 for a pack of 3. You could also keep your area illuminated at night with a lantern so you can see your rod tips. Do whatever works best for you. Casting reels allow for a different method because of clickers. When fishing live or cut bait I use a casting reel and leave the bail open and turn on the clicker. When fishing live baits such as bluegill I use this method 99% of the time because it allows the fish to move while engulfing the entire bait. After you've casted out and turn the clicker on make sure your rod is parallel to the water so its easy for the cat to take line and easy for you to set the hook. When the catfish picks up your bait and starts to run the reel will buzz from the clicker. During warm water periods when the cats are aggressive I don't let them run far. I normally give them a 3 second count the close the bail and set the hook in the method described above. If they are running fast I usually close the bail and set the hook as soon as I pick up the rod. After practicing with this method you will be able to tell what a fast run is. Now during periods of colder water the cats are usually more tentative. Usually the run in short slow bursts. When they begin to run I pick up the rod while holding it parallel to the ground and wait for them to stop. They will start up again and that's when I close the reel. I wait until I feel their weight or a little tug then I set the hook using an above method. With larger live baits some people like to let them run longer to make sure they have it. Sometimes this is a smarter play to make sure they have the bait. This method is around 90% effective. So I've given you several methods to try out that work for me. This of course isn't everything in the book but just a few for the beginners to try. Just remember that practice will give you a better idea of when to set the hook. Also don't limit yourself to these few. Experiment for yourself and learn what works best for you! TIGHT LINES!