Saturday, April 8, 2017

Should we all be using barbless hooks?

I got a great e-mail after the last posting on how to remove hooks from your own skin. It was so succinct it could have been written by Henry David Thoreau himself.
Go barbless.
So, are barbless hooks easier to remove from your hide? Absolutely. In fact, if you had a truly barbless hook it would withdraw as easily as a needle. Unfortunately none of our lures come with an option of being fitted with barbless hooks. They all have barbed hooks and if you want to make them "barbless" you can squish down the barb with needle-nose pliers. That is what most people mean when they refer to barbless hooks. This leaves a bump on the hook that makes it slightly more difficult to take out but it is hardly noticeable. You can still pull out the hook just with your fingers; no string method or pliers are needed.
Should you then pinch-down all your barbs? Just before we say yes, we need to re-think why barbs are on hooks in the first place. They are there to keep the hook from coming out of the fish's mouth. Theoretically, if you keep a tight line when playing a fish it should keep the hook from just falling out. In practice, at least in my experience, this isn't always the reality, and it very much depends on how many hooks are attached to the lure. The fewer the hooks, the more likely the fish will "spit" the lure.
It is pretty easy for a walleye to get off a jig with a barbless single hook, for instance. It is less likely to get off a spinner like a Mepps with one barbless treble hook and it almost never happens with a lure like a Shallow Shad Rap with two sets of barbless treble hooks.
Now let's look at the lures that most often get stuck in people's hands. They are nearly always lures with two sets of treble hooks. The hooks get caught in the angler as he or she grasps the fish to remove the lure from the fish. The fish flops and the free set of trebles get stuck in the angler.
If a person has a lure with one treble hook caught in him it usually came from the backcast of his buddy. This is how people get hooked in the head, back, etc.
The only jig with its single hook that I ever had to remove from a person came from the angler leaving tension on his line as he reached for a walleye in the net. Just as he stooped over to grab the fish it flopped, the hook came loose and flew up and stuck the poor guy right in the nose.
Here's my recommendation: pinch down the barbs on any lure with two sets of treble hooks. I would think twice about doing it on single-treble lures, like Dardevles or Mepps. And I would never do it on single-hook lures like jigs or Johnson Silver Minnows.
I would appreciate hearing your comments and experiences. Just click on the Comments link below.
Incidentally, just in case you haven't ever heard Thoreau's comment on brevity referred to above, he once said his motto for life was "Simplify, simplify" to which a contemporary of his, Ralph Waldo Emerson, said "one 'simplify' would have sufficed."
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1 comment:

Dan Baughman said...

I got this further e-mail from Roger Nygaard who allowed me to re-post it here.

"Dan...I would like to take issue with the statement that you lose more fish on barbless hooks. I have a group of guys that go to a Ontario lake that requires barbless hooks. One treble barbless hook on lures with multiple trebles. Two
treble hooks must be removed or dismantled. We fish barbless jigs with plastic
tails and no live bait. We caught 5 northerns in the 40 inch class last year in July.
We did not lose one because we fished with barbless hooks.We catch 100 walleys
per day per man often. None of us feel any issues when fishing barbless. They also
make for easy removal from clothing. No tear in your rain suit on removal.
Another point is that you do not need to remove fish from the water. You simply
reach down and grab the jig in the fishes mouth and turn hook up and fish is loose
Use pliers if necessary.
( I confess I make and sell barbless jigs. I am a believer in barbless hooks.)
I really like reading your blog....keep it up.


I asked Roger how people could contact him for barbless jigs and hooks.
Here's his e-mail:
He does not ship to Canada.