Avoid Injury, Go Barbless
Casey Allen, For The Times-Standard
If you fish long enough, you or someone you know will end up with a hook stuck in their body. The most common places are the hand and the head. Fly fishermen suffer more hook related head injuries simply from the way we cast. Big hooks, used for big fish like albacore, have a lot of energy when they come loose. A big hook in your hand can make for a very bad day.
When faced with a hook injury, professional help is always the first choice. A doctor will have the knowledge and the supplies needed to extract the hook without pain or risk of infection. If possible, it is a good idea to bring the doctor a sample of the embedded hook. That will show him the size of the barb and provide information on how best to remove it.
Depending on where the hook is located, there are two common methods of removal. The first (but not necessarily the best) is to push the hook through until the barb is exposed enough to cut off. The hook is then backed out the way it came.
The second method employs a string or monofilament looped around the bend of the hook with enough lead to give a solid grip. A second person is used to help stabilize the area the hook is embedded (like a finger). You then push down on he eye of the hook which will lessen the grab of the barb on the way out. At the same time, you must jerk the string with a quick, decisive follow through. Data shows this works most of the time with failures blamed on half-hearted attempts.
Often, professional help is not available soon enough and fishers are inclined to attempt removing the hook themselves. Some try to tough it out and leave the hook in until the fishing day is over. Either way, a decision must be made based on where the hook is. Obviously (at least to me), if the hook is in or near an eye, artery, or tendon, go directly to a doctor. In fact, unless it is in a fleshy, unimportant part of my body (like my butt), I'm going to a doctor.
If you do try to remove a hook yourself remember the following. A pocket knife is seldom sharp enough to cut skin. Pushing a hook through the skin to cut the barb off requires effort and causes more damage to the victim. The string method takes a determined resolve by all parties. In other words, you have to be tough.
I would rather save what toughness I have for those times when I have no choice. The smart solution to avoiding all that pain is to use barbless hooks. Sounds simple? It is. If you stick yourself with a barbless hook it will easily slide out the way it went in. The only concern is the chance of infection as in any puncture wound. Barbless hooks are not only safer but also make releasing fish easier. Even if you lose a few fish, barbless hooks are worth it.
Alcohol, at a late night party, was to blame for my not avoiding a fist fight. It all turned badly for me, resulting in a closed eye, cut and swollen cheek, and a fat lower lip. It was a lesson that lasted into adulthood. But being young, I made the opening morning of duck season a few hours later. That afternoon, I moved to fly fish salmon on the Eel River.
The salmon turned out to be the only good thing about the weekend. I hooked six salmon on flies before the wind started blowing. Two were big fish that tore me up, each parting with my fly.
I quickly tied another gold comet to my leader and started false casting. It was then that I realized the wind increased, blowing upstream and across my casting arm. I tried to overpower the wind with my back cast but I could feel the fly line slither along my neck. The fly planted itself in the middle of my chin. I felt it with my fingers, buried to the tail feathers. I cut the leader free of my chin and fastened a new fly to it. After a few casts, I could not take any more, I needed the fly removed.
Looking in my rear view mirror, I tried to pull the fly out myself. It is hard to inflict pain on yourself. It would not pull easily so I tried to push it through. All I did was make myself dizzy and nauseous. Finally, I drove to the hospital emergency room.
The nurse who greeted me asked, “Gee, what happened to you?”
”I stuck a fly in my chin,” I answered, pointing at the fly with a long, dirty finger.
”Oh, I didn't see that. What happened to the rest of your face?” she said, referring to my closed eye, swollen cheek, and fat lip.
”Yeah well, that was yesterday.” It seemed a week ago.
The doctor did not say much. He selected a big needle and eventually numbed my chin. He then returned with the biggest forceps I have seen and clamped down on the hook. He pulled until it felt like my chin stretched to my knees. When the hook pulled free my chin snapped back into place almost knocking me from the stool.
The doctor handed me the fly. I removed a little piece of meat from under the barb, wiped it on my pants, and... Read More
Article Courtesy of the Times-Standard
at Times-Standard Online - Home