Fly fisherman have debated the advantages and disadvantages of barbless hooks for years, and for years they have been divided on the subject. As a dedicated competitive and catch and release fisherman most of my fly boxes contain barbless flies. It’s no secret that they are easier on the fish, but in my opinion they are easier on us as well, let me explain. How many times, and it happens to all of us, have you been fishing a two fly rig and you either miss a fish or it comes unbuttoned and the whole rig comes flying back at you and gets tangled in your net, on your pack, or around your head or legs, or even the low hanging rhododendron overhead? With barbless hooks it’s a little easier to get untangled and get those flies back in the water, and let’s face it, your not going to catch any fish if your flies aren’t in the water.
Barbs on hooks were originally intended to keep bait on the hook, but they also do help keep the fish on. You see, hooks manufactured with a barb are made to be fished with a barb, they tend to have very short points because the barb keeps the fish on. A few of the major hook companies made some barbless hooks over the years, but they didn’t really take off due to most of them just being duplicates of their other hooks without the barb and they didn’t hold fish very well. Competition fly fishing has since spurred on a new thought process in hook development. Now we can buy barbless hooks with long super sticky spear points that not only give you a much better hook set due to the barb not making an enlarged hole and slowing down the penetration, but also hold fish quite well. Many of these new hooks are pricey, up to nine dollars for a twenty five pack, but there are enough companies manufacturing them now that you can find some very nice hooks for under four bucks a pack. I’m currently using and very fond of the Trout Legend hooks, Dejon Hamann sells these hooks on his site: http://troutlegend.com/store/ give them a shot if you want to give barbless hooks a go, you won’t be disappointed.