So I am just going to drop some truth on everyone right from the start. If you are a catch and release fisherman whether it be on the fly or on gear you need to be fishing with barbless hooks. There is no need to be wrestling a barb out of a fishes mouth if you are planning on putting him back to catch tomorrow. None of us are saints here as we do hand out free lip piercings over and over again, but that is just something we have to accept with the sport. But I do believe we all need to do our best to make sure the fish go back into the water as close to as healthy as when we took them out and one of the easiest things we can do to achieve this is to go barbless.
Now I hail from British Columbia, Canada and if you have fished up this way you know that all of our rivers and streams are single hook, barbless. And yet, I still catch fish time and time again that have either been horribly mishandled or had a barbed hook forcefully removed from their mouth. Seeing this thing actually gets me pretty upset. I follow every letter of the regulations when I am out on the water to the very best of my ability and knowing that there are people out there that just flat out either don’t follow the regulations or can’t take the 5 minutes out of their life to read them. Any of us including myself that are using social media to either share our stories or promote the spot need to take extra care to set the best example we can. The younger angles are that are looking up to us will be the difference in the future. If we can show them the right path to take then there will be many years of enjoyment in the sport of fly fishing.
Now maybe some of out there are nervous to make the switch over to barbless in fear of losing that next big fish. It’s okay bass dudes I am hear to tell you that you won’t if you know what you are doing. So let’s go over some of the benefits of using barbless hooks. The first one is the less chance of injury for the fish itself. While that barb may come in handy when you are trying to keep the fish on the hook, it has the complete opposite effect when trying to remove the hook from the fish. It is often when most the damage can be done to a fish if done incorrectly even with a fish that is super high energy and won’t stay still. I would say about 90% of the time when I net a fish they unhook themselves almost immediately. Then it’s just safe travels back to the water. The next plus is less chance of injury to yourself. While I have never had it happen myself, it is much easier to remove a barbless hook from your skin than a barbed one. I have drilled myself with the conehead of a streamer and that sucked pretty bad. The next one on the list is better hook sets. Without the presence of a barb a properly maintained and sharp hook will pretty much set itself when a fish takes it. I know you feel like a rock star bass setting on that 10 inch rainbow, but believe me when I say not only is it not needed, you look silly. The fact is the barb creates further resistance when setting the hook thus the need for extra force when fishing with a barbed hook. A quality barbless hook will set like a hot knife in butter.
I am sure you have looked at the above photo and there will be times when this is simply unavoidable. It’s a chance we take every time you put a hook into the water, but I am just saying let’s do our part to preserve this precious resource to the best of our ability. We owe it to the fish to take the most care as we can considering everything they provide us in return. I don’t know about everyone else, but I have a hard time imaging what my life would be without fly fishing.