Barb or Barbless... why? [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Barb or Barbless... why?

05-14-2002, 10:22 AM
Which is it and why?

I use barbs simply because I am not all that confident yet and need the upper-hand on keeping them on the line.

Went barbless for two months last year, and got a bunch of nibbles and NEVER hooked one... maybe it was bad timing in the year, but it became too frustrating.

Might go back to barbless for the fishs' sake, but not until mid season at least.

05-14-2002, 10:53 AM
Unless I forget to pinch or file the barb I go barbless. I have not noticed an increase in lost fish and it is eaier to release them.

Dble Haul
05-14-2002, 11:11 AM
Ditto to what Hawkeye said. In fact, one could argue that the hookset without a barb will penetrate deeper, resulting in the possibility of fewer lost fish.

old man
05-14-2002, 11:22 AM
I'm barbless all the way. I usually try to buy barbless hooks when I tie flies. Or I will pinch them down before I tie them. If I buy them with a barbs I pinch them down before I make my first cast. Barbless hooks will come out of your skin eaisier than barbed ones. I know, but that's another story.

One old man that knows. Jim

05-14-2002, 11:26 AM
Likewise, unless I forgot to mash it down all mine are barbless. I've seen too many flies in peoples arms, necks etc. also. I can't imagine a 4/0 hook buried to the bend. A #6 barbed streamer hook isn't too bad to extract but some of these salt water flies are BIG.

05-14-2002, 12:15 PM
100% barbless, I never forget to grind or mash them and test them to see if they have any resistance to removal.


1) barbed hooks are dangerous and in the event of a hooking it's inconvenient to get to a hospital, a barbless requires a band-aid and you still get to fish

2) barbed hooks are hard to remove from a fish and contribute to the impact fisherman can have on the welfare of our gamefish

3) barbless hooks penetrate much easier than barbed hooks, resulting in better hookup ratios

4) barbless hooks require that the angler keeps good tension on the fish, which teaches better technique to the angler and is better for the fish

5) as a seasonal shore guide I insist on barbless despite having been yelled at for lost fish due to #4 and I do it because of #1

My observations - I don't even notice a difference in my fish hooked vs. landed ratios in fact I would wager that an angler who keeps a bend in the rod suffers no handicap. I have however noticed a drastic improvement in the ability to handle fish with care when releasing. I have also helped a number of people who were impaled with barbed hooks, and have never had to help anyone who had been impaled with a barbless hook.

But that's not to say anyone should or shouldn't, that's totally up to your own judgement. Just my opinion, no sermon intended.


05-14-2002, 02:00 PM
100% barbless for flyfishing. 97% barbless for spin fishing. I used to only mash the barbs when I was having trouble getting the hook out of a fish or unsnagging the hook from carpeting or clothing. About 10 years ago I saw my brother and a friend both stick hooks in their hands in the space of 2 weeks. I helped them both remove the hooks. I felt nauseous and I wasn't even the one with the hook stuck in me. I've fished barbless hooks since then. The same friend stuck another (barbed) hook in his hand last year and had to go to the ER to get it out. He still refuses to fish barbless :confused: My girlfriend once flubbed a cast and snagged me. The barbless hook slid right out and there was virtually no blood. She freaked out of course, but it was no big deal to me. We kept right on fishing.

I've found that I can usually land the fish that I hook on barbless hooks. Or, better yet, I can get them right to the shore or boat, throw them a little slack and let the hook drop right out without my even touching the fish. If the fish comes off sooner, so what ? ? ? I was going to release it anyway. It's nice to land the big ones so you can get a measurement and/or photo. Then again, if the fish gets away it can be as big as you want to make it! :devil:

The only time I use hooks with barbs is when I'm jigging in deep weeds for largemouths (spin fishing). I've found that the long, tough weeds work their way down the line to the hook bend and act like a hook remover, allowing the fish to easily swim off the point of the hook. I haven't encountered this situation yet in fly fishing so I don't know if it's a concern.


05-14-2002, 03:06 PM
I fish barbless most of the time. The only reson I say most of the time is because sometimes I don't remember to pinch the barb on flys I buy. The reason is for ease in letting the fish go. I don't like to have to wrestle a barb from the fish or handle them more than I have to. Its never been for a safety reason but that doesn't hurt. But until two years ago I did leave the barbs for a confidence issue, but now I don't think it makes a difference.

05-14-2002, 05:05 PM
Barbless for all the above reasons. I was up in the Rangely area at a friends camp a couple of years ago. The smelt were running and we were sitting around tying big streamers for trolling for the land locked salmon. The salmon seem to hit the tail of the fly so you miss alot on short strikes. I was tying a trailing hook onto a piece of heavy mono and using my teeth to hold the hook. The hook slipped and imbedded itself right in my lip past the barb. I had to push this size 4 streamer hook through the other side of my lip to bend down the barb so that I could then pull it back through. I go barbless now.

05-14-2002, 06:46 PM
Barbless 100.99% of the time
For all the reasons noted above.
Like Juro, I do some part time guiding and I ALWAYS pinch the barbs on ALL flies.
My average is about 7 whacks on the head and neck per day from the guets in the boat.
Even with barbless, mandatory in the boat is a hat and eye glassses for everyone. One of my hats has 19 flies in it.... none are native to the hat, all are erratic migrants...

05-14-2002, 07:33 PM
...If you are concerned for the well being of the fish, a quick uncomplicated release is going to make for a lower mortality rate.
Having to deal with barbs drastically increases handling, damages tissue, and prolongs exposure otherwise avoided by the quick release.
Read Juro's post one more time!
...there's going to be a test and it's going to last all season!


05-14-2002, 08:16 PM
Any one watch those fishing shows on TV? They marvel at the fish's beauty as it gasps for oxygen, and procede to rip the trebles out of it's face. Then, they give it a kiss. Tough love! With all the fish that these guys catch, you would think that barbless would make sense to them. It would make for better TV.

05-14-2002, 08:17 PM
Barbless. No fancy reasons. It's just easier on me and the fish. Besides, IMHO it's the right thing to do.:)

05-15-2002, 01:24 AM
I use barbs simply because I am not all that confident yet...

You have to be kidding right??!! I JUST started fly fishing, and I wouldn't even consider using barbed hooks. The ethic of flyfishing to me means catch and release, which means you use barbless hooks. I also think its fine if an angler wants to keep a few fish, but that shouldn't require you to use barbed hooks.

For the record, I believe my hookups were easier my first day on a river, than they are now. The fish hooked themselves, and since my reactions were so slow, I couldn't mess it up. Now, sometimes I see the fish rise to my fly, and I strike too quickly pulling the fly out of the fish's mouth--the lesson being that barbless hooks will hook fish all by themselves.

I encourage you to switch to barbless and when you do, I think you will discover it's not that easy to remove a barbless hook, so the fish are not going to escape once you set the hook. Nibbles on barbed hooks don't lead to hookups either: unless the fish inhales the fly you don't get a hook up with either barbed or barbless.

05-15-2002, 03:58 AM
I agree with Pete , and Juro. I fish alone a lot. For safety sake ,barbless hooks,eye protection,and a hat make good sense. I very rarely quit fishing because of the wind,and have hooked myself on occasion with barbless hooks. On a trip to Alaska I saw a guy up on a river with a large lure firmly embedded in his cheek,it looked very painful,and cost the guy a day of fishing. I think a few fish may shake free, but barbless hooks do make for an easier release,on both us ,and the fish.
Best Fishes

05-15-2002, 10:27 AM
You know what, I am going barbless next time I get on the water...

Will let you know if I see a lower rate of success or not!

05-15-2002, 11:11 AM
I've thought about this one for a long time. I like to at least touch the fish I release, even if I don't remove them from the water. Having the fish get off the hook short of counting coup is somehow demoralizing (can't really explain why -- what difference does it make when it escapes if it's going to be released anyway). Must be some atavistic thing bound into the RNA.

One of the big problems I had with barbless hooks and steelhead is that whenever a fish would take off on a long run (quite a common occurence on the Deschutes), as soon as the fish paused at the end of the run, the hook would come out. This happened to me again and again and caused me to pretty much abandon my faith in barbless hooks.

After reading one of Juro's posts, I think I may see the error of my ways. If I understand him correctly, the fish dislodges the hook at the end of a run because there is so much variation in the tension on the line as he turns around and shakes his head. This allows the barbless hook to slip out a good portion of the time. Again, if I understand correctly, Juro's cure is to hold the rod off-vertical (toward the center of the river and as close to parallel to the surface as practical???or toward the near bank????). Anyway, I'm all fired up to try again this year 100% barbless.

Thanks, Juro.



05-15-2002, 12:50 PM
...alright Stone and Eric!

05-15-2002, 05:53 PM
Same here for same reasons. Almost lost the use of one of my fingers from not crushing the barb and has been my reason ever since. The time I spent in ER and subsequent problems with hand are good enough reason.

Quote from ER doctor: "Wow, this hook has a big barb - made it really hard to get it out."

05-19-2002, 09:33 AM
Totally barbless. I just tie with barbless hooks in lieu of debarbing when I can. Don't ask me how many times If fished without a point on my hook.:rolleyes:

That is unless you count all those treble hooks I use for snagging!!

(kidding of course);)


05-19-2002, 09:48 AM
Of course we know you are kidding, BTW just saw the Arkansas River on ESPN Outdoors, thats a big river !:whoa: