Posted 03 May 2006 - 08:20 AM
Unless I'm catching for the frying pan, like bluegills, crappies, perch. Once in a great while I kill a trout because I love to eat them. As does my wife and both girls, now grown & out of the house. My dad taught me how to eat trout as a kid.
There is absoultely no question in my mind that barbless hooks offer:
> Easier removal from everything. Clothes, trees, body parts, vest, net, fishing companion, automobile rug, boat ropes, duffel bags, float tube coverings, & of course, fish. Oh and by the way, dogs. A friend of mine had a German Shorthair that wanted to go swimming. I was fishing three wet flies, and before I could react the dog got swept into my cast of flies. Hooked her right in the middle of the back.
> Less damage to the fly upon removal. (BTW - how many of you use serrated forceps for fly removal?)
Might as well get a pair of vise-grips on the fly. Serrated forceps are bad for flies! (except for saltwater).
> Less damage to the fish, without question. IMHO, anyone fishing in a catch & release regulated area, or releasing trout in an unregulated area does a disservice to the fish by not fishing barbless. I have seen too many anglers wrestle with a hook, anything longer than ten seconds is too long. And how about the times when you foul hook a fish? Less damage with a simple puncture wound than one with a barb where some tissue ripping and damage can occur.
If one is not killing fish, then hookups are what really matters. Hookups are the true measure of how well you are doing as an angler. Hookups are the true measure of how well the fish are feeding. Some fish will escape, after all, they are trying to get away, and the reality is, sometimes the fish wins. It is a simple matter to keep the leader tight after setting the hook, but I have seen some anglers set the hook, then drop the rod tip and stand there reeling all the line onto the reel then when the line tightens, wonder where the fish went...
I no longer separate the tally of "fish landed" to fish hooked. But I don't count the ones that are on and off. If I play it, bring it in close, etc., it's tallied. At the end of the day, total number of hookups represent the experience. I'm going to release them anyway, the only time I might be disappointed is if a really nice fish that I might have wanted to photograph gets off.
Finally, I catch many trout that have hook scars, both fresh and older. Some are caused by spinning lures. Others are caused by careless anglers, both fly & spin, lifting small trout out of the water by the leader as they flop around, often tearing off maxillaries, and other mouth area tissue because the body weight of the fish cannot support being hooked.
Finally, if a fish breaks off, a barbless hook will come out of the fish naturally easier on its own, rather than with a barb. I have removed hooks from fish that were left by other anglers too, but always hooks with a barb. I have never removed a barbless hook from a fish.
Barbs are for hooking and holding if you are going to whack the fish & creel it. Not that there's anything wrong with that...
Obviously my opinion is pretty strong in this area. I have hooked myself a couple times, beyond the barb, but fortunatrely for me, my hook was barbless and came right out. I could tell you some horror stories about some of my friends, one of whom still fishes barbs - deliberately. I can't understand that...even after he had to go to the emergency room.