Beyond Barbless

Paul Huffman

Driven by irrational exuberance.
I get a big kick out of just getting a big fish to come up and make a pass at one of my own ties. It's a satisfaction that I figured out what is hatching, how to match it, and made the perfect cast. And got a old smart one suckered in, hook, line and sinker. (Except no sinker.) It's almost more fun than reeling them in. And I like to explore new water just to see what it might hold. It's hard to interact with the aquatic environment without a fly rod in hand, and I don't see much of a chance of satisfying my curiosity with a backpack electroshocker.

I like to go over to the stream that runs through the golf course near here and flick bread crumbs or hoppers into the creek just to watch the big pet trout come up and bust 'em. It's closed waters, of course. But some days, when the wind is blowing a little, I think how much easier it would be to flick these little tidbits out there with a light weight fly rod. This got me wondering I wonder if they'd mind (the "authorities", not the fish) if I tried out my new ideas for fly patterns if I not only removed the barb, but the whole hook. Just clip it off right above the bend.

In just a couple of weeks, all my favorite east side rivers close up until spring. If I were real careful to only have my hookless copies on me, I wonder what the authorities could to do me if I went right on pattern testing all winter. What could PETA say? Harassing the fish? What about the golfers that feed them? What about the people walking the bank trail, scaring those fish right out of their feeding channels into deep water? And those kyakers? Get those vegan tree huggers away from the water, they're scaring the fish. I do my best to keep the fish from ever seeing me. I'd be just confusing them. They'd be thinking "That's weird, how'd I miss that bug?"

What do you think? This could be a new movement, the next step beyond "Catch and Release". These would be "Roll em and .....", well that's pretty much it, just "Roll em". We wouldn't have to debate how to not overplay the fish or how to handle them for best survival. I wouldn't be damaging undersize trout or salmon smolts.

Of course, it might be hard to get any interest in hookless nymphing.
There was an article about this about ten years ago in American Angler. The author had hooks with eyes on both ends, no point. Obviously it never caught on. In the article he said he was stopped by an officer and told to quit, but issued no ticket.

I don't see it as doing any harm, and you could certainly look down your nose at anyone posting any picture of a caught fish. :DEVIL
Many years ago when we used to travel up to Canada to do some steelheading, we would stop by one of our trout lakes just as ice was coming off. It wasn't open to fishing, but the owner of the lodge would toss a muddler minnow out with no hook (clipped before the bend). He never landed any trout with this technique, but did land a few squawfish (er... Northern Pike Minnows) this way. They'd just keep their lips wrapped around the hook. Then they'd gurgle at him as he tossed them into the bush!
MajorGeek, I think I know what creek you're talking about (through SunTides) so you'll appreciate this: I caught a steelhead on the Naches three weeks ago. I was swinging streamers a ways above the Nile road bridge. When it first hit I thought I had hooked a bull trout. It was about 24". No camera with me and my fishing partner was too far down stream to see it, so its existance it known only to myself and god.

I s**t thee not.


Be the guide...
For starters, I don't know how much satifaction I'd get from fishing in closed waters. The fish are likely to nail anything that may resemble lunch - if you want to try out your finely crafted flies, then you really need to try to persuade the finicky and highly pressured trout on say Rocky ford, dry falls (when open), and even the yak.

I would also just not want to have to explain to the wardens or others who may be concerned about what you think your doing fishing closed waters. Many just won't get the whole 'pointless' concept ("explain that to the judge, buddy").

And then there are the yahoos who will see you fishing and think it must be open, then you suddenly find you have company. Of course it's their fault for not checking the regs, but I can see it happening...
being politically correct sucks

i camped at squaw rock two years ago. everyone told me that naches steelies were non existant. while i was there i spotted dozens of steelies. i even caught one. a dark 36inch fatty (i'll post a pic someday) that i caught while swinging nymph for trout. i even spotted several huuuuge chinook that looked like frickin submarines in that crystal clear water. one night there were two steelies that kept rising right in front of me. their beautiful red bodies would come out of the was the most amazing thing ever. such a wild fish. we would climb up on the rocks and look down into the water and see the fish holding in the current. we also saw lots of lures (treble hooks......arggghhhh) embedded in the rocks. the naches is an amazing piece of water. i just wish i could make it back.

At the risk of sounding like a total fishing geek..A couple weeks ago I was practicing in the backyard and decided to cut the hook off an old fly instead of using ribbon..I enjoyed it more although my neighbors think I'm crazy :WINK

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