Barbed vs. barbless debate resolved?

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Alosa, May 31, 2013.

  1. Every once in a while the debate over barbed vs. barbless hooks rears it's ugly head. This can often lead to heated exchanges between individuals with differing views/opinions, usually with no factual basis other than personal experience. Well, we finally have some objectively collected data to truly consider the costs/benefits of fly fishing with barbless hooks.

    A new study in the North American Journal of Fisheries Management, a peer-reviewed scientific journal that is well respected in the field of fisheries management, has just published a study on the 'catch efficiency' (CE) of fly fishing for trout in California using barbed and barbless hooks.

    In the interest of self education I encourage you all to read it. I found it very interesting. If you cannot access it, PM me with your email and I will pass it along.
  2. "Results show that anglers using barbless flies landed proportionately less trout than when they used barbed flies."

    Not having read past the Abstract, the questions that first come to mind; First, angler skill/ability. Second, flow rate of water fish were played/retrieved in.

    I'm also not ready to start measuring the success of the day in factors like 'catch efficiency." That's missing the point - pun intended.
  3. Derek: read beyond the abstract to see the nuances like angler experience, etc. If you take the time to read it I think many of your questions will be answered.
  4. Interesting report, and matches my own rough approximation. Maybe I think the same as Derek, but to me landing the fish is just a bonus. The main goal I have is fooling a fish into hitting my fly. Hooking and landing them are just a pleasant aperitif & dessert.

    Though I have to admit I hate being skunked. So, I guess I stand by the above AFTER the first fish is landed.

    Anyway, I use 100% barbless hooks, but not just to help protect fish. It also protects me from my own fumbles. Just last summer I back-cast a fly into the top of my rod hand due to a stiff breeze causing my fly line to drift back into me. I just popped it out and kept fishing. If it had been a barbed hook, I might have had to visit a doctor to have it removed (as I've had to do twice in my life). Now I also have 3 young boys who have just started to fish. You can imagine the four of us crowded into our Derek Young-supplied Streamtech raft, rods and lures/flies flailing, kids forgetting the instruction to watch the back cast, then hitting each other and daddy -- and you bet your bottom dollar it's barbless all around in that boat.
  5. Thanks for the heads up on the article!

    So every angler was given a 4 hour fishing block, divided into 8 30 minute segments. For 4 of the segments they angler blindly used a barbed fly and the other 4 a barbless fly. Having every angler in both groups can eliminate the concern about variability between groups in regards to angler skill.

    I think the study is well designed and well done. I would suspect that most of us already thought that using barbless hooks decreased our catch efficiency. I personally think the benefits of using a barbless hook, easier on fish, faster hook removal, easier to remove from my skin when I accidentally hook myself, never in violation of tackle regulations, far outweigh the few extra fish that I might have caught with a barbed hook.
  6. I'd love to read it and see which variables they controlled for, but I'm probably not going to pay $26 to do so.I do think that angler satisfaction is an important aspect for policymakers to consider, I just think it would be difficult to draw conclusions as to angler satisfaction based upon catch efficiency. Not that I'm saying the article states this, as I also haven't read past the abstract.
  7. Legally use barbed or barbless hooks as you'd like. It makes no difference to me so I don't try to convince anyone to use one hook over another.
  8. There is no debate for me. Barbless is and will continue to be the right way for me for reasons only important to me.
  9. I will stick with barbless hooks, after all catching is a very small part of the experience.
    Bill Aubrey, Krusty and dfl like this.
  10. PM me your email address and I'll email you the PDF full article
  11. I'd also like to read the article, but not for $26. If someone has it and will email it to salmo_g@hotmaildotcom, with a . in place of the dot, I'd appreciate it.

  12. I've had barbed hooks taken out of me and I have pulled barbless hooks out of myself. The barbless hooks came out a lot cleaner than the barbed did.. I seem to stick a fly in my hand and fingers almost every time I go out.

    Here in Montana you don't need to pinch your barbs down, but I do out of practice.
  13. I didn't read the study at all, not even the abstract. Doesn't interest me in the slightest. Post the study over on Those guys will have a field day with the study no matter what conclusions it suggests.
  14. Sent
    fredaevans likes this.
  15. Thanks Gary!

  16. Come on Kerry S. I expect more from you...maybe not...
  17. I forgot to pinch one of my barbs two days ago. First time in a long time that's happened. It took a little extra time to get it out, no bleeding, fish swam off just fine. I fished a little longer, then made my way back to that same spot. There was the fish I caught... dead.

    Apparently (without even noticing) I must have gripped the fish too tight, and killed it. How many fish that are accidentally mishandled (because of a barbed hook, or a "glory shot" picture) swin off just fine... and then die?

    I bet it's way more than you and I would like to admit.
    Bill Aubrey and Krusty like this.
  18. I'm 100% with the comments re catch efficiency not being part of the goal being on the water.

    Funny thing is, when I do fly fish areas where gear fishers or bait fishers are present, they're typically looking over at me like WTF because: I'm presenting natural looking food source imitations not some chunk of metal or worm or power bait blob. Despite losing some to barbless hooks - kudos to the nice move from the fish - I still land more than the chuckers by far. Oh yeah and I don't tear their lip off in the process.

    Useless study with regards to the group on this forum.
    Bill Aubrey likes this.
  19. It's not all about catching for me but about 60% of it is. When fishing I want to catch fish, and I do so with barbless hooks.

    With that said, "News flash! Barbless hooks catch less fish!" Seriously?

    Sent from my KFTT using Tapatalk HD
    Bill Aubrey and Alex MacDonald like this.
  20. Years ago, when barbed hooks were more common, I could drop my rod tip and let the line go all slack when a fish broke the surface, then raise the rod back up and continue to fight the fish. I don't remember ever losing fish. I pretty much do the same now, but tend to keep the line a little taunt if I can.

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