Everyone that has been fishing for any amount of time will eventually come across the topic, should I be using barbed or barbless hooks? Many will use barbed hooks when they begin fishing, usually because 99% of flies, lures, and hooks come with barbs on them, and they never really give it a second thought. It is only when they are talking to a seasoned fisherman, or perhaps come across a body of water with a barbless hook only policy that the new fisherman will stop and think about what they should use.
There are a few key arguments for having barbed hooks:
- Keeps hook in place.
- Less chance of loosing fish.
- Don’t have to crimp hooks or buy barbless.
It really isn’t that much work to crimp hooks. I probably should crimp them all when I buy them, but that doesn’t happen. Instead I bring a pair of pliers with me and crimp the hooks as I use them. The exception is that when I’m tying my own flies, I always crimp the barb in the vice.
There are many more arguments for the use of barbless hooks.
- Better hooksets.
- Less damage to fish from removing hook.
- Less damage to YOU from removing stuck hook.
- Easier to remove hook. This is especially true of fish species with bony mouths, or those that are likely to deep hook themselves.
- Easier for a fish to remove hook from mouth if it has broken fly or lure from the line.
In my experience a firm hookset, and minimization of slack in the line is more important to keep a hook in place than a barb is. Some hooks with large barbs actually make a solid hookset more difficult due to the barb increasing the diameter of the hook.
I used to waste so much time removing a barbed hook from a fishes mouth (especially with winter flounder), that it resulted in significant reduction in time actually fishing. Imagine you are fishing striped bass at dawn on an outgoing tide. You do not want to be wasting precious time wrestling barbed hooks out of little schoolies. Barbless hooks allow you to release these small fish quickly and allows you to get back to the matter at hand; catching a monster striper! Of course by using barbless hooks, all those schoolies you are catching are much less stressed and more likely to survive and grow into monsters themselves.