Barbed or barbless for shad


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Tetonia, Idaho
I'm hoping to fish for shad on the Columbia in June this year, if the coronavirus clears out in time. It's probably wishful thinking, but I'm tying some shad darts and am wondering if I should be mashing down my barbs as I usually do for trout and steelhead?

I've read that shad have a soft mouth and come off the hook easily so I was thinking it might be better to leave the barbs. With a soft mouth, the barbs might not hurt the fish that much if I want to release them?


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Manning, S. C. (formerly MD)
I wouldn't call their mouth soft, it's like that of a Crappie, thin, and they can tear more easily than most other fish. However, I can't say that I've seen that happen a lot either.

I mash down the barbs when targeting shad, and that's worked fine. I've also used various types of hooks, and never had any problems. I used size 4 most, size 6 early when the Hickory Shad arrived ( MD waters) and even size 2 later when it was mostly the larger White's.

I've also caught enough of them while targeting other fish, on rather large lures and flies with much larger hooks, even 1/0 & 2/0 and don't recall tearing them up.

I poured some shad dart jigs this year for spinning tackle on heavier, size 2 hooks. Unfortunately, I never hooked up with a shad at all. The river near me is not like those I fished for them in MD, wading isn't possible, so not practical with fly gear unless from a boat. So I tried the spinning tackle. Then, this virus issue changed many things.

Here's some flies I've tied for Shad.