A lot has been written about 'when' to set the hook on bass.

The 'easy' answer is 'while the bass has the fly in it's mouth'.

We know that bass 'engulf' their food, that is they take 'all' of it in at once with a sucking action caused by flaring their gills and opening their mouths.

So, as soon as you feel the fish, the fly is in the bass' mouth.

You really CAN'T set the hook 'too soon' if you can 'feel' the fish on the line (for topwater the key is 'feel' the fish, not just 'see' it).

The real question today is, do you need to 'hurry'?

How 'long', time wise, will a bass 'hold' a fly?

Of course it depends, on both the fly and the bass.

Consider this. Most of what a bass eats has sharp potruberences, spiky things sticking out, hard spots, and such. Our flies have a mixture of soft and hard as well, and tend to feel very lifelike to the fish. Deerhair or soft foam stuff especially, but even steamers are pretty 'natural' in their feel.

Bass will tend to hold flies a bit longer than they will the 'hard' plastic baits used by the conventional bass fishermen.

Still, any time delay in setting the hook only gives the bass longer to reject it. This can happen awfuly quick if there is a negative taste/odor on your flies, or they 'feel' something they don't like, or feel the line drag. There will never be a 'better' time than 'right now'.

So, what you really want to do is feel the fish then set the hook properly as quickly as you can.

You do have 'time' to strip in any slack, so you get a good hookset. You have time to get a good grip on the rod, point it at the fish, and hook it well. You don't have to 'rush' and set the hook with the line slack or the rod pointed at the sky.

Don't rush, don't dawdle, just do it right, and right now.

If you find that, in doing this, you aren't hooking the fish, just speed up until it gets consistant for you.

Good Luck!