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  1. Default Barbless or Barbs?

    I took up fly fishing last year and starting tying flies over the winter. One of the instruction books I purchased starts off all fly instructions with a note to bend the barb to make the hook barbless. Do most folks fish with or without barbs? What are the pros and cons? Any recommendations or advice?



    Andover, MA

  2. #2

    Default Re: Barbless or Barbs?

    It really depends on what you want to do.

    I don't tie my own, or even fly fish (yet). But I've got dozens of fly-spinners I use on some ultra light rigs for trout. I crimp the barb on all of them. Where I usually fish is catch-and-release. AND, unless you plan to keep the fish, it makes it easier to remove the hook. This gets the fish back into the water quicker, which is good for them.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Barbless or Barbs?

    Barbless... much better for the fish... there's some good reading on the FFF site on the topic. Fly fishing information for everyone

    ... But a lifelong journey.

    I choose fly rods the same way I do women, motorcycles, and cowboy boots...
    go with what ever feels good, and keep on hand as many as I can afford

  4. #4

    Default Re: Barbless or Barbs?

    + much nicer to the fish for catch and release, if you set the hook properly and keep your line tight, the fish will stay on the hook
    - can be difficult to detect a strike unless you know what to look/feel for and also how to properly set the hook, fish can still throw the hook if you don't set the hook or keep your line tight

    + even a beginner can hook a fish and land it without the fish throwing the hook--the fish will usually set the hook itself, if you plan on eating your fish, it doesn't matter how much the barb hurts it
    - comparatively much more detrimental to the fish to remove the hook if you are fishing catch and release

    If you're catching a lot of fish and throwing them back with barbed hooks, you may realize this eventually, but you can really eff up a fish's mouth pulling out a barbed hook. You're also more likely to destroy your flies with your pliers if the fly doesn't come free easily.

  5. Default Re: Barbless or Barbs?

    You will bring more fish to hand with barbed hooks; however, as previously mentioned, barbed hooks are harder to remove and cause more damage to the fish. If you are fishing for food or trophies, use barbed hooks. If not, use barbless.

    I use both. Most of my trout fishing is done in catch and release streams where the largest fish I will ever encounter is 18". No food or trophies, so I use barbless.

    When I took my first trip to Andros, I started out with barbless (can't eat 'em and trophies are rare). However, I lost many fish before getting them to the boat so I switched to barbed. I didn't pay to go to Andros to simply hook bonefish, I wanted a few pictures of me with fish. On my Andros trip this year I caught my first fish with a barbed hook and then switched to barbless.

    I also fish for striped bass on Cape Cod. If I am fishing in a location where I a pretty certain I will only hook schoolies I will use barbless, but if there is a chance of running into a keeper (28") I will use a barbed hook because stripers taste great.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Southeast Pennsylvania

    Default Re: Barbless or Barbs?

    The overwhelming majority of my fish are released. In fact, I kept (and ate)
    a fish for the first time in 30 years two months ago!

    Barbless works fine for me, and since we're waving hooks past our faces,
    consider this video: YouTube - My Attempt At Fly Fishing Gone Bad....OUCH!! The
    good part comes near the end ! Squeezing barbs down on #6 and
    smaller hooks is pretty easy with hemostats or small needle-nose pliers.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Barbless or Barbs?

    Almost forgot about that. The back cast can be treacherous with a barbed hook.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    South Texas

    Default Re: Barbless or Barbs?

    Barbless hooks come out of you and fish easier. Barbless hooks also penetrate into a fish's jaw better. Its kinda like the difference between the force needed to drive a finishing nail instead of a framing nail.

    I'd rather hunt fish than bait deer any day.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Colorado's Western Slope

    Default Re: Barbless or Barbs?

    I have swung back and forth on this issue even going to semi-barbless(bent the barb to retain a bump but the barb is down) that seemed like a nice compromise. I have however decided that deep hooking a fish for catch and release is much trickier even with nice long hemostats/needle drivers. The effort of de-hooking a deeply hooked fish is traumatic and will kill some fish I don't plan to keep. So I'm back to barbless...

  10. Default Re: Barbless or Barbs?

    I feel i hook more fish with the better penetration offered by a sharpened barbless hook. For the most part, if I lose a fish "due to" a barbless hook, it is "after" the fight, right at the side of the boat or as I try to bring it to both cases just using a net usually prevents the loss. I just spent my lunch break sitting in my car, bending down some barbs and re-sharpening some hooks. Everyone is free to make their own decision based on experience, but i think most agree that in general, catch and release fishing with barbed hooks is not the best way to go.

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