Just A thought on Catch & Release [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Just A thought on Catch & Release

01-08-2002, 08:06 PM
This is not to be construed as a holyier than though comment on one of our prime comitements which is conservation buuuut the majority of the flys posted in living colour [great pics.] show that big old barb still in place:whoa: Now I know we can say that we crush them or remove them before fishing which I am sure is correct in most instances.

The reason I make the coment is that as this board grows we are viewed from many parts of the country and many parts of the world where catching was more important than fishing. We have the comitment to conserve and this one small item can show that we practice what we preach.

Just my .02 saltRon

Any Coments pro or con

01-08-2002, 11:45 PM
Good point saltron. I routinely squash the barbs down before tying saltwater patterns which is a lot less hassle than dealing with or forgetting to do it on the water...

Saying that, the trout flies which I tied for the swap still had barbs on...:confused:

Many of the flies given me on the water still have barbs in place as do all flies sold in shops. Maybe fly shops could offer free "barb crushing"?


01-09-2002, 12:58 AM
Hi Adrian I have allways been of the opinion that if you were going to create a barbless hook that you flattened said barb before tying as some times, depending on the mfg you could breake the hook in that process.

One Mans opinion saltRon

01-09-2002, 04:31 AM
For safety reasons its a good idea to go barbless. Makes it a lot less difficult to remove a hook byyourself without the barb. I never keep any fish. FishHawk:smokin:

01-09-2002, 05:47 AM
I think these hook manufacturers should offer barbless hooks, I know they do for some freshwater, but I don't know of any for saltwater, tongue-in-cheek. I would think that it also would be cheaper for the manufacturers to do this. I have lost very few fish on barbless, or crushed barb hooks, aso much easier to release fish.:)

01-09-2002, 07:37 AM
Better get a new cup of coffee, a stream of consciousness follows....

Good point. I'll play devil's advocate though. (Terry must be getting to me)


For a more "sensitive" fish like trout in a spring creek barbless is the only way.

My experience with several different species of saltwater fish ( striper, blues, tarpon, barracuda, jacks & lemon sharks) leaves me to believe that a barb on a hook (a single hook) is the least of their worries. When you're slugging it out with an aggressive fish in the salt and it's using structure, current & leverage to fight the pull of your hook & fly line - you are leaving more than just the pin hole from a barbless hook in it's mouth.

That said, I do practice & promote C&R and, I do favor and use barbless hooks for the majority of my salt fishing.

However, there are a few spots I have been fortunate enough to frequent that hold larger fish and I am guilty of having occasionally left the barb on for these fish. In retrospect it's probably just a mental crutch for me.

My intention for the 2002 salt season is to fish barbless all the time - to really put a bow in the rod when I have a fish taking off with my line & backing. My reasoning for this decision is to increase my abilities as a fly rodder, reduce stress on the fish (does it really though if you're fighting a fish more "gingerly" because you have a barbless hook?) and for the ease of removing the fly from my person and anyone else unfortunate enough to be hooked by me.


01-09-2002, 08:09 AM
Like Roopy, I fish 99.9% barbless and teach it to my kids and nieces and nephews on their spin gear.
But with tunoids, forget it. They turn and run at you, your line goes slack, fish off.
For the recent fly swap, I left all my hooks barb on. Those flies are going to other people , it's their choice.
SO it's species and size dependent. Smallmouth are another contender for my "semi barb" setup. Sometime I mash the barb down 3/4 of the way leaving a small bump to help out. There is an in between world. Smallmouth come out of the water, dart sideways, spit the hook back at ya. A little barb helps. I lost way to many last year and kill none. In fact, I don't think I killed one fish last year.


01-09-2002, 09:10 AM
Some very good thoughts. I have tied flies with many different hook brands and to me, it seems like some are better at holding fish than others without a barb.

I tied some flies up on the new Tiemco dark bronze hooks last season and found that I was dropping more fish than normal. Probably not enough to be statistically significant but another piece to the puzzle?

John Desjardins
01-09-2002, 01:10 PM
I'm curious about the comments on some hooks that have the barb bent down losing more fish than others. Does anyone feel that this is related to whether the barb breaks or bends down leaving a hump? I've noticed that on the sharper, harder and more expensive hooks the barb will break off while on cheaper and softer hooks the barb will bend over into a hump.

Adrian if you, or anyone else, want the barb pinched down on a fly for the trout fly swap tell me and it will be done before the picture is taken.

01-09-2002, 01:38 PM
John, sure, lets have a barbless archive:)

John Desjardins
01-09-2002, 03:20 PM
Adrian, consider it done.

01-09-2002, 08:43 PM
Rereading this post I finally get the spirit of it. Therefore check out:THIS REVISED RECIPE :) (http://www.flyfishingforum.com/flytalk3/showthread.php?postid=23281#post23281)


01-09-2002, 09:12 PM
I must give my opinion here.. I go barbless in the spring when going after schoolie stripers.. However, like Roop My deep sand eels still have the barb on.. I have fished maybe 50% barb and50% barbless during the summer months... fishing the surf.. big currents in the summer make water conditions tougher. But more importantly, I do not see any additional damage when I have removed a barb hook from a big blue or 36 inch striper.. That is not to say I advocate barb hooks and will plan on fishing barbless exclusively this year.. but when drifting in a boat off south beach or the crashing surf I will ponder whether it really is doing the damage on those fish as it can on small fish, trout or other soft mouth fish. The real danger with barbs is when there is a full swallow.. but superficial mouth hook ups is not the same. Barbless started , I think ,because of the gut hook potential and removal of type of hook. Barbless can be removed much easier down deep than barbs. It really was not begun for mouth hook up releases... just my opinion.

01-09-2002, 09:51 PM
Totally, unequivocally barbless and I never land any fish I hook. :smokin:

01-10-2002, 07:45 AM
Great topic. I fish 99% barbless. If I have a barb on my hook, that just means I was in too much of a hurry. I fish barbless for several reasons. I would rather loose a fish due to a lack of a barb than risk serious damage to the critter. If I loose a fish, that's OK. Another one will swim by sooner or later. For me it's the spirit of the whole thing. Catching a good size fish on a barbless hook just seems more rewarding. Finally, it makes for much easier hook removal. Not only for the fish, but on those occasions I find my self hooked in the ear....the hand....the butt.... :hehe:

01-10-2002, 11:32 AM
100% barbless.....the tunoids I've lost have not been lost b/c of a lack of a barb....


01-10-2002, 11:40 AM
I apologize for digressing from the original question, "Should the fly archive be barbless flies?"

Yes, I think so.

01-10-2002, 01:23 PM
Then wouldn't it follow that all fly archives would have to be barbless? It's problematic because that sets quite a tone for the board that might alienate more than educate. Won't bother me because I'm already here. But to the newcomer, who knows?
It could be left to the individual to decide too.


01-10-2002, 02:10 PM
Steelhead wise, I use 90+% barbed hooks for my ties, but a pair of needlenosed plyers takes care of that situation. Actually, have a good chunk of the year here on sections of the Rogue that barbless hooks are required. For some types of gear even a minimum hook size is required (fly's are exempted under this Regulation). Personal observation suggests that barbless will give you more hookups due to the smaller amount of penitration necessary. It's the big needle vs. a small needle idea.

The to barb or not to barb is kind of academic if you're intent is to release the fish anyway. Release at "long range" or short .... so what I guess in my .2 cents worth.

01-10-2002, 07:41 PM
Use barbless all the time for steelhead and trout. Agree with Fred they seem to penetrate to better and when I lose a steelhead it is due to the log jams or that the fish just was to hot and mean. When you having them jumping through trees and going under log jams on there way back to Lake Michigan there is no hook or line that is going to survive. Great fun though and memories.

Use the needlenose pliers to just put those barbs down.

:chuckle: :chuckle:

01-10-2002, 08:54 PM
Hi Lefty Your comment of " set Quite a Tone For the Board" Has that tone not allready been established starting with the description of the community and running through many many of the posts iregardless of saltwater or fresh?

My only reason for starting this thread was that we are being viewed from many parts of the world and possibly we should go this extra bit to show that we do practice what we preach.

All the responces have had merrit and in the final analysis it all comes down to a personal choice.:smokin:

My Best to All saltRon

01-10-2002, 10:29 PM
saltRon, you managed to put into succinct words my very thoughts on personal choice. This has also been an extraordinary thread which speaks volumes to the quality of the people who participate here.

That said, I see nothing wrong in encouraging the use of barbless hooks for newcomers. Encouragement is the operative word. I wouldn't dream of alienating people by trying to force an opinion on them. At the same time, I think most of us on this forum advocate catch and release - some exclusively, and others who may take an occasional fish for the pot but practice C&R most of the time. If I were ever to go cod fishing I would probably bring one home!

Without exception, everyone who participates in this forum cares with a passion about the wellbeing of our resource. We would certainly want to encourage those same sentiments in newcomers to the sport.

I was serious about the idea of fly shops offering to crush down barbs on store sold flies "free of charge". If they break then the store could replace them at no cost:smokin:

01-11-2002, 05:51 AM
:) Maybe someone of these fishing equipment manufacturers could add a groove to a pair of pliers on one jaw, this would support the hook in the area where the barb is, then one could bend down the barb without breaking it off. Think maybe I can figure something out, glad you started the thread SaltRon. Most of my flies either have no barb, or a crushed barb. I have had several deep hooked fish using flies with a crushed barb, and with a pair of forceps been able to back the hook out.I have observed some of the fish for a few minutes they appeared to be OK. I can't say that when using a hook with a barb. Just my observation.:rolleyes:

01-11-2002, 11:38 AM
and then again, one can file the barb off. No percentage exists in arguing about personal preference.

01-11-2002, 07:28 PM
I personally have a problem trying to file the barbs off. I can't find a file that is hard enough to do that to the stainless steel hooks I use. I did today fool around with an old pair of small needle nose pliers. I ground a groove in one of the jaws, I just have to hold the bend of the hook, put the hook in the groove, squeeze lightly, and rotate the pliers around the hook, or fly. It bent the barb down very nicely. I tried sizes from 1 to 8/0 on about 25 hooks, didnt break a single barb off. I tried it on Mustad, Eagle Claw, and Trey Combs hooks. :D

01-11-2002, 08:31 PM
Hi artb Should do something original to that groove and get a Patent. Did you groove across the face or legnthwise. Better still produce a few and sell them at the show with our webb address on them. this might produce some working Capital for the Board.


01-13-2002, 05:24 AM
:) saltRon, I grooved the pliers across the jaws. I hold the hook between my thumb, and forefinger, the hook bottom side in the groove in the jaw, just put gentle pressure on the barb, while turning the pliers back, and forth, while adding more pressure. I think it works pretty good, like I said earlier I didn't have any barbs break off, even did it on some flies that I have had kicking around for years.

01-15-2002, 06:07 PM
I agree barbless is the way to go. I like to crush the barbs before tying, it's just easier. I wonder about the bonito though, might a barb help land one of those suckers? I confess to leaving the barb on a couple of #2 bonito bunnies. I will most likely just take a bite out of the 1st bonito I land. Oh yeah, if your at the boneclave and see a little tuna with a bite out of it that was the work of a bluefish, not me ;))
Seriously though Saltron you make a very good point, I'll be sure to only post pics that display crushed barbs.

01-15-2002, 07:03 PM
test...test... just testing..having trouble posting...

01-15-2002, 07:10 PM
Well.. I feel a little bad about my previous post... to an extent... even though I will go barbless all the time this summer... I think all the discussion here has been sort of "philosophical".. I think this is a good thread .. but it is not complete... If a beginner asks about the reasons.. there are really none here... no facts... My point is that when I did go with barbs I did not see any damage to the lips of a big striper or blues. Lips hardened by mother nature...If you remove the hook correctly there is no Large hole... I again believe that it is the gut hook situatiuon we must be careful of.. I gut hooked one striper last year ,in the spring, and I was barbless at the time.. and was able to finger the hook out by backing it out... something I would not have been able to do with the barb. So..what are the factual pros and cons.. and what about lip hooking danmage... I just think we need a more complete discussion instead of the higher order philosophy.

John Desjardins
01-15-2002, 11:26 PM
The one reason which I think a beginner will understand for using a barbless hooks is that they are easier to remove when you hook yourself. The few experiments ;) I've done on this over the years have proved this hypothesis to my satisfaction. Thankfully I haven't conducted many experiments.

01-16-2002, 07:58 PM
Mr President I agree that this thread has taken more of a philosophical trend than factual. To be factual we would have to start quoting the findings by other bodies of men & women, most unknown to any of us who would be quoting FACTS???? and findings that we would probably disagree with.

We have all fished with barbs in place and possibly practiced release fishing. I doubt that we really made note of the no. of bleeders that we had or there survival rate. I am sure that we still to-day, fishing barbless see those occasional fish that we know will not survive but can not be harvisited for whatever reason.

I guess it still comes down to that personal preference thing but it should be tempered with our hopes for the survival of these beautiful aquatic creatures.

For what its worth saltRon

01-16-2002, 09:20 PM
Well said.. and I agree that it is be better to go barbless.. It is just that ..in many cases.. the bard has not done the damage that I could put my finger on ... with lip hooks ....not gut hooks. so, I guess with the potential of gut hooks... with other or various species, and rough hook removals with lip hooks... those are the most obvious dangers.( apart from removing them from fingers and ears.)

01-16-2002, 11:51 PM
Well Said to you MR President and to the postings of Adrian, artb,roop,,john and all who contributwed to this thread. This discussion could go on and on with points for both sides but maybe we should say LET YOUR CONSIOUS BE YOUR GUIDE in which ever route you choose to follow.

Tight Lines saltRon

01-22-2002, 12:53 PM
To barb or not is a strictly personal preferance, while I advocate it I would be the last one to force my opinion on someone. With the high philosophical content of this discussion I think it only right to ask another question. What about the role of stainless steel as opposed to non-stainless? Surely a fish that swims off with a stainless hook lodged in it`s jaw or gullet has a lot less chance of survival than one that is hooked with a hook that will rust out in a couple of days. True an arguement can be made about non-stainless coroding and discoloring after a few uses, but is anyone here so economicaly challenged that they can`t afford to change a fly after a few uses? By then they get pretty ragged anyways. Also in his book Ray Bondorew states that he believes that stainless hooks create a magnetic field that fish can detect and that he only uses plated hooks for that reason. He admits he dosn`t have scientific proof of this, but who knows?

01-22-2002, 02:45 PM

I think you reversed poles by mistake. How's that for a two way pun. Could be a Polish or magnetic pun when you think about it?

Steel hooks attract to magnetic fields. Stainless has very little attraction qualities. Some believe that low voltage of electrons can be sensed by fish and they show an interest.

If that were the case, logic would tell you there would be schools of fish under every oil tanker. One company used to market a magnetic devise that was lowered from a boat with low frequency pulse to attract fish.

Hah!, the old debate of stainless vs. steel hooks. Very heated discussions about 20 years ago. There are pro's and con's for each position. One fallacy I never took light to was steel hook wouldn't last longer than one month. Think it takes longer than that. Most times they get impaled by growing tissue.

John Desjardins
01-22-2002, 03:20 PM
I guess I'd be listed as a doubting thomas on the magnetic properties of hooks altering how many fish are caught. The simplest reason is that I've never had any hook fall off of the magnet glued onto the base of my fly tying vise.

01-22-2002, 06:56 PM
The question wasn`t wether the hooks were attracted to magnets but rather does stainless generate it`s oun magnetic field which could be detected by fish. Bonderow dedicates a couple of pages in his book, Stripers and Streamers, to this very subject. Either way,my feeling is that a stainless hook is considerably more dangerous than a plated hook which will eventualy disintergrate. I myself, having never broken off a fish, don`t need to be concerned with this problem.

01-23-2002, 10:19 AM
Stainless steel generates the least ammount of field of all the ferro-magnetic materials. Whether or not a fish can pick it up- who knows?


01-23-2002, 07:03 PM
If you tie tube flies you can use 'disposable' hooks of any metal and replace them at will. Large enough tubes will allow blind wire loops to hold the hook, surgeon's knot to the leader and you're all set for blues.

I can't say I haven't broken off hooks, I have - but so rarely on stripers that I can only recall one. And it was a freaking submarine. :rolleyes:

Blues... well they're another story. But I highly doubt that a blue will be harmed by a lip ornament. I caught one off Fisher's Island that weighed 15# on the scale and had a large piece of bent stainless steel in it's gut... totally in its gut. The twisted metal object looked like it was dropped off a ship or something and eaten as it wobbled downward.

Selection of metals is a much greater concern for bait anglers because of the pecentage of gut hookings. Trout anglers with salmon eggs, catfish anglers, bottom fishing, etc - experience gut hookings as often as they do lip hookings. In these cases using a metal that disintegrates over time would increase the survival odds of the unlucky fish who swallows a tasty bait morsel.

IMHO this is a minor factor for striper flyfishermen simply because fish rarely swallow the fly. It's more likely that they may take it into the gills (also rare), in which case the proper approach is to push it out the gill openings and cut the tippet without damaging the rakers or main gill member which is equivalent to it's aorta. The metal makes no difference in this case though.

Crab flies are the exception, I've had them swallowed in blind fishing situations because stripers try to mash the shells using their throat molar plates. Leaving non-stainless hooks would be a kinder thing for these fish if you insist on using crab flies in blind situations. My solution to this was to stop using a crab fly in blind fishing situations. Sight fishing allows you to time the hookset so you can avoid deep hookups. The problem is much less there. A circle hook for crab patterns is a winning combination for blind fishing with crab flies IMHO.

01-23-2002, 07:34 PM
Wow...I missed out on a great discussion!! :(

Note To Self-Read Archive of Striper (etc.) Fly Patterns Board on a daily basis. ;)

01-23-2002, 07:46 PM
Originally posted by NrthFrk16
Wow...I missed out on a great discussion!! :(

Note To Self-Read Archive of Striper (etc.) Fly Patterns Board on a daily basis. ;)

Ryan I hope it was because you were trying to figure out how to get that education thing straightned out.

---------:smokin: saltRon

01-23-2002, 07:57 PM
I discovered that my education involves wading the beautiful rivers of the PNW in pursuit of chrome wild winter steelhead. Being proficient in the two-handed rod is mandatory as those daily D-Loop pop quizzes can be a b*tch and they account for a large portion of my grade. Must practice, practice, practice!!!

...wait a minute, you were talking about my college education, weren't 'ya?? :whoa: :whoa: :whoa:


John Desjardins
01-23-2002, 09:27 PM
To follow up on Juro's post, I remember several years ago seeing data published somewhere on different hook coatings. The one that I remember was to avoid cadmium plated hooks at all costs. They had a very high mortality rate due to the cadmium leaching into the fish.

The other item is that circle hooks work with bait, whether it is for stripers or sunfish. Last year I got some # 6 & 8 Mustad circle hooks from Blue Northern to use when bait fishing with my son. The result was a drop in the percentage of fish he caught that were gut hooked fish from ~25% to less than 5%.

02-13-2002, 08:19 PM
Originally posted by artb
I think these hook manufacturers should offer barbless hooks, I know they do for some freshwater, but I don't know of any for saltwater, tongue-in-cheek. I would think that it also would be cheaper for the manufacturers to do this. I have lost very few fish on barbless, or crushed barb hooks, aso much easier to release fish.:)
Actually Arthur, producing barbless hooks is more difficult and expensive. Cutting the barb is the first step in the bending process and provides the anchor.

03-02-2002, 10:35 PM
I too fish only barbless, although I furnished most all the swap flies with the barbs on allowing the recipient to decide to crush them or not.

I have sunk a couple flies deep into my thumb and pulled them out easily and barely bleed at all. In contrast a fellow fisherman in our party up in Kodiak Alaska had the misfortune of sinking his barbed salmon fly right through his thumb. He was walking over to a new spot when his line got hung up on a rock while holding the fly in his hand. We used a heavy mono line to pull it out. He was bleeding badly and in great pain and the hole was quite larger and split more flesh than a barbless hook would have. Despite our suggestions he didn't want to fish barbless even after this experience do to his belief he would lose more fish. We never lost a single fish due to the lack of barbs, mostly breakoffs, poor knots or fouled hooks.

My limited experience catching Tuna on barbless hooks has proven despite the blistering run and return trip towards the boat they were still hooked despite the huge amount of slack and large amount of time to reel it in. I thought I had lost them for sure. Apparently the drag from the fly line itself was enough to keep them hooked for me.
Perhaps I was just lucky...