Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Barbed vs debarbed hooks?

It a hot topic that gets written about on the forums a lot by the looks of it. Personally I’ve used barbless hooks on my flies for some….10 yrs now. The last 2 years though and especially this season I have alternated religiously between barbed and barbless hooks to see what results would bare fruition, and I can honestly say without a question of a doubt that barbed hooks have done more damage than barbless.

Now I don’t condone the use of barbed hooks, and I understand why some prefer to have them. If you’re a 9 to 5’r and can only manage a few hours during the week or a days fishing over the weekend, using barbed hooks probably offers you that added security to maybe catch that one or two fish for the day, but employing this method opens you up to more problems eradicating the hook once you have him on your mat. Some of you are probably saying, “Aaah! but that’s why we carry along a pair of wire cutters Si”, Okay fair dinkum, but tying materials and hooks these days aren’t cheap and with the amount of time & effort we spend in tying up our flies why would you want to cut the bloody hook in half with a pair of wire cutters anyway….It doesn’t make sense to me!!!!!!!!! I can guarantee you that many pike fly-fishermen don’t carry wire cutters with them and are quite prepared to just yank & pull the barbed hook free from the hard bony interior of a pike’s mouth. Thus ripping the hole bigger and in some cases shredding skin, gristle and muscle in the process. Its hard enough trying to get a pair of long nose pliers down a 2 kilo pikes gob without bashing its teeth trying to extract a hook, “So can someone please tell me how easy it is to get a pair of short handled wire cutters down a pikes mouth …especially without not only damaging yourself, but also to the pike in question. I can also guarantee you that 95% who carry wire cutters use these short handled versions purely because long handled are extremely hard to find in any hardware store, let alone cost an arm and a leg!!!!.

Now those that use barbed hooks might argue the fact that barbless have more freedom to move around once it has pierced its way through thus making the hole bigger. Well this might be true but I also believe the way we fight our pike once hooked plays a big part in how much damage a hook can make. Like so many other species, pike often breach themselves violently thrashing their heads from side to side as they tail walk across the surface trying to eradicate the un-wanted hook from their mouths. This is where much of the damage is caused either with barbless or barbed hooks, yet if you fight a pike correctly you can control him to an extent that he doesn’t need to jump out of the water. One can feel and see when this is going to happen and so one can either lower his rod tip slightly , or let a short bit of line out between your stripping hands fingers.

Fishing celebrity extraordinaire…(Not!) John Wilson in the UK, often can be seen on his fishing programs purposely trying to get the pike to tail walk across the surface with comments like “I just love it when they do that” & “Is he going to tail walk for me” followed by that irritating stupid laugh of his…….”John if you ever read this mate, then you really need to reassess the way you play a pike me old son, especially on national television. There’s no need to do this. Not only are you adding more pressure to an already stressed out fish, but you’re giving the hooks more opportunity to punch their way through a pike flesh which in turn leads to more damage. “Textbook fucking error in my eyes”.

I have to admit that this season whenever I’ve used barbed on my flies I’ve had this niggling feeling at the back of my mind that I hope the pike is hooked in an area of its mouth where I can eradicate the hook easily. Having that worry hanging over me in some way has spoiled the experience for me a tad this season…... As I mentioned earlier I don’t condone the use of barbed hooked flies, I just know what has done more damage to a pikes mouth this season here on the Baltic and I definitely wont be using them again.


dave lindsay said...

great article simon although i think barbless do a lot more damadge but each to his own through experiance , but i think youll find its john wilson mate not alan LOL but im sure we all know who you mean ,

im sure the barbed debate will ramble on for many a year

all the best

ChuckingFluff said...

I like barbless because it's easier to pull the fly out of my hands and ears when I catch myself. It also seems easier to get the hook out of the fish and back into the water sooner. Good topic

Jabala said...

Hi Simon, found this topic while browsing your blog.

Using a barbless single hook is one of the reasons I love fly fishing for pike. Before I started fly fishing, I mainly used big wobblers and jerkbaits. Yes, they were effective but one thing made me sad, they damaged the fish way too badly as some of the hooks were in the mouth and some were outside. If you ask me, multiple treble hooks should be banned in pike fishing.

Now, as I mostly fish pike with a fly and with barbless hooks, fish are usually almost unharmed. Often I barely need to touch the fish, just gently taking the hook out with no effort at all. Quick, easy and minimal damage done to the fish. I also haven't noticed that barbless hooks lose any more fish than the barbed ones do so there is absolutely no reason for me to use barbed hooks for pike ever again.