When I started fishing (bait) I kept all the fish I caught. Most trout I caught on bait would swallow the bait and hook so relasing them seemed wastefull. By the time I was ready to move on to fly fishing, my family was tired of eating trout, so I stopped keeping them. It was easier for me to release fish from barbless hooks. I can recall learning to cast large heavy flys with my old drug store Shakespear 7 wt and hearig the whistle as the fly shreiked past my ear. Add the possibility of having to release myself, and the barbless seems like a no brainer.
For flys I tie myself, I pinch barbs at the vise. For flys specifically for C&R water, I've written "pinch!" on the fly box as a reminder to check each before I use them.
I tied a bunch of stuff for Kokanee fishing last year. It's a very different kind of fishing: little casting, all harvest. Those lures and flys bristle with barbs and hooks.
I use a ghost net on bigger fish. I would agree some cheap nets made of string or whatever they are made of may damage some fins.
I use barbs on all fish. I do not plan to change. Barbless is fine, I'm just not going to do it. The exception would be if I were fishing somewhere that barbs were illegal, then I would follow the law.
I believe in treating fish as gently as possible, but I think some are under the impression they must be treated like fine crystal or they will break. I think trout are much tougher than many people seem to believe.
I never touch a trout with dry hands and I try to never have them out of the water more than 20 seconds or so. I only rest and revive larger ones that have put up a long fight. Most of the fish I release are ready to swim as soon as they hit the water. I do not tightly squeeze fish, yet I do not hold them like they are fresh hen eggs that I am afraid of breaking.
I thought I would get a few responses but this has been pretty amazing.
There have been so many good points made that are truly valid, and I guess it seems like it just comes down to personal preference.
I think, in regards to being able to take the hook out of my skin (it happens...) I would much rather have a barbless hook. And this might be some strange subconscious reasoning from getting hooked as a child so much, but definitely one of the many reasons I prefer barbless.
Another reason being I don't even like to even touch the fish, and simply use small forceps to slide the hook out. That is if I even need to, when you fish with barbless you can also get the hang of letting the slack out and the trout sometimes will just literally spit the out the hook. I find with barbs i end up ripping a small piece of the fish out everytime, and really have to wrench to get the hook out. (if you can hear the fish gurgling, it's usually a bad sign)
Another depending situation, is if you are fly fishing from the shore or are in the middle of the river wading. One of the main reasons I don't fish from the shore is the time it takes to get the trout reeled in to you and up on the shore (depending how high you are) to release the hook. This is another question in regards to tiring out a trout too much, and dragging it on rocky beds. Shore fishing vs middle of river fishing, Do you think there is a difference? what about fishing from a boat?
Have you ever seen people fishing from the middle of bridges thirty feet up from the water. The look on their face when they actually catch a fish is pretty funny, then they turn so frustrated when they realize they have to bring it up to their level somehow.
I've never had healthy experiences with nets and tend to not use them because I never really feel like I need them. Granted the fish (trout) I catch in Bozeman only go as large as around 20 to 25 inches. So I could imagine catching a 30 to 40" fish would probably take some sort of ghost style net to help with the process.
Like someone mentioned before, there are so many factors that come into play that it almost just becomes an ethical, belief sort of situation. However, I hope we all agree on the importance of releasing a strong fish, that will help spawn even more. (or keeping the occasional trout to feed friends and family)
The fields are endless, but the cows never leave the river side, maybe it’s the fresh taste of a cold mountain runoff that keeps them close. Or perhaps they just like watching the fly fisherman cast their way down stream (like souls of fishermen past). A young calf looks at his mother, with a sideways curious expression “I love the feeling of mud running through my hooves.”
I think the conclusions reached by most of the people doing the research that Silver linked to are right and that there was not any bias in those studies. In summary, they found no significant difference in mortality due to barbs or lack of them.
I would guess that handling trout with dry hands would cause a higher mortality rate than the hooks themselves.
As for saltwater fly fishing, the only hooks that I will no longer use are tandem rigs for sail fish, which are typically stiff-rigged tandem hooks at 90 degrees to one another. It is the only type of sailfish fly I've seen in any of the fly shops. I never thought much about it until two or three years ago when I caught a sail that did nothing but shake his beak and sit there. He did make one short run, but I landed him in 5 or 6 minutes.
One hook was in his upper jaw and the other hooked on the outside of his mouth on the lower jaw. He could not open his mouth to breathe or eat. Had my leader snapped, he'd have died quickly from suffocation. As it was, we had to snip off the wire on the trailing hook to remove it so we could get to the one inside his mouth.
Once I saw what had happened, I snipped the trailing hooks off all my sailfish flies. I now have a vise and will start tying my own tube flies so I can get the single hook further back and hopefully improve my hookup rate, which has not been good since- even after bending on offset in the remaining hook.
I started doing some reading after that and discovered that Cam Sigler (I think it was) developed a sliding rig using mono and rubber bands for the trailer so that tandems can be used, yet the fish can still (theoretically) breath and eat if hooked as mine was, then broken off. So this can not be an uncommon occurance. Nonetheless, I will stick to single hooks.
Do what you want, follow the rules and release a fish that has the best chance to survive.
I don't touch a trout if I don't plan to keep it. Grab the hook with plyers and remove it if visible or cut the line as close as possible if I can't.
If it is too large to handle that way I net it so I can control the head to do the same. Salmon and steelhead get netted, remove hook and let go in the water at all times.
If I could find all my hooks in barbless for a similar price I would use nothing but.
A barbed hook does, a majority of the time, a LOT more damage coming out than a barbless hook ever does. Seen, it, tested it, seen it tested and agree with it. Hard part to agree with is I have never gotten deeper penetration by a hook than when I debarb them.
I think its a great conversation that can keep going and going that's for sure. Somewhere on this someone was talking about how a barbed hook can keep the hook in place whereas a barbless hook lets it move while in the fish's mouth and my response is "how many people do you see having to wrench on the fish's mouth to get that barbed hook out?" I'll pinch mine for that reason, also to self preserve (as said in the above thread) or someone else I whack into on the boat. Had to do the ol "push down and yank" on a friend this spring with a barbed one in the ear (thankfully not my fault haha) and that one really helped me remember why. Maybe I'll lose a few but that's worth it for the ones I do bring in and not have to deal with it. The guys who want to keep 'em barbed I'm fine with it, its their decision.
Either way, it's a heck of a lot better than catch and release with a trebble hook right?
Nets in a boat FOR SURE, but I'm still pretty keen on doing it sans net while wadding.
I bend the barbs, so much easier to get the hook out, especially with a net. More often than not I can leave the fish in the net for just a moment and the hook will fall out. Caught, landed and released without ever touching the fish.
There is a bonus also, barbless will make you a better fisherman. If you don't believe me, go barbless and record the percentage hooked but not landed, stay with it and the percentage start going back down.
This thread reminded me of a photo that was posted over on the Orvis Blog site last week, I thought I would show it here, the caption mentioned casting in the wind, it might make you think about fly fishing with barbed hooks.