Re: Touchy subject:Barbless or barbed
Since the majority of the fishing I do is for bass or tidal species, there is not much of a selection of barbless hooks available, so I mash down or otherwise remove the barbs on most hooks prior to tying flies on them. I can't say that I've lost any fish due to not having a barbed hook, but I have stuck myself enough to know that getting a debarbed hook out is easier than one with the barb still intact. I also feel that I get better hookups with no or less barb, since they penetrate easier.
I have no evidence that debarbed hooks kill less fish, and agree with what silver creek posted, that in some situations, depending on how & where a fish is hooked, the type of hook used, and the fish species being sought, a barbless or debarbed hook could be worse. The old "English Bait hook" or Kahle style hooks are said to be one style that may be a problem with hooking trout thru the brain, when used for tying flies or bait fishing. Debarbing is said to make them worse. For my experience with this type of hook, I cannot verify this, as I've had no issues with such hooks, but I rarely fish for trout anyway with such hooks.
Regardless of whether I use a debarbed hook or not, because frankly, I have flies that have not been debarbed & sometimes I forget, I feel that hook size & type may be a bigger factor than barbed or barbless in initiating safe releases, and of course length of time it takes to bring a fish to hand, to reduce mortality. I rarely have issues with swallowed hooks, and most of the time I'm using tackle heavy enough to handle the fish I'm after, so do not have prolonged fights that may severely weaken a fish. However, there is always the chance of hooking something that does not fit the tackle, but those are usually rare situations.
If I had any major concerns, which I don't, about whether or not barbed or barbless hooks made a big difference in mortality rates of fish I catch & release, then I would only use barbless circle hooks for the fishing I do. Which I feel would insure a higher number of jaw hooked fish & faster, less stressful releases.
For now, and unless something changes, I'll stick to what I've been doing for many years.
Remember, no one likes to be behind the big truck, but that's better than being under it!