To Barb or not to Barb?
For me that used to be the question.
Nowadays I only ever fish the Loch with Barbless Flies.
These are almost all Flies that are tied on specific Barbless Hooks and not de-barbed Hooks.
Very, very occasionally if I cannot find a specific fly on barbless hooks I will buy a fly on a barbed hook and carefully de-barb it
I do this by twisting a set of de-barb pliers around the barb and then giving it a quick rub with a needle file. This will remove some of the protective coating on the steel so I give it a touch of varnish to preserve it.
This is a bit of a chore but worth it if you cannot buy the Barbless Fly you are after.
However these days there are ever more suppliers of quality Barbless Flies available as well as a superb range of Barbless Hooks if you roll your own.
The ranges of these are increasing year on year.
The vast majority of small waters around the country insist on Barbless or de-barbed flies even when you are taking fish for the pot. Additionally larger waters like Coldingham and others insist on this once you have your limit or if you are fishing catch and release from the start.
Barbless Hooks these days have been specifically designed to have extra holding power by having slightly longer points. In addition these points often have other feature to increase holding power.
This can be Eagle Claw points or some have a slight sideways off set. Others have a small bump where a barb would be and Spear Points are common. Many have more than one of the features.
Specially designed Barbless Hooks were developed due to the demands of Competition Anglers.
Events like the World and European Championships and others have always insisted on Catch and Release and on Barbless Flies or De-barbed Flies. The Anglers Flies were rigorously checked by a Controller using a fine piece of cloth and even a minor infringement would cost an individual or a team dearly.
I believe that the Czechs and Poles were the first to manufacture specific Barbless Hooks with the Knapek Company leading the way. Today there are many others selling them including Tiemco, Fulling Mill, Mustad, Trout Legend and also a local company Fritz n Flies.
So what are the advantages?
Well they come out easily!
They come out of Fish, Landing Nets, Clothing, Waistcoats, Hats, Boat Ropes. Lunch Bags, and anything else they can catch on during a day’s fishing!
Especially Boat Partners on a Windy Day!
On that note if you do not wear some sort of eye protection even when Bank Fishing but especially in a boat with a partner then you are just plain daft.
I could use stronger language here but will refrain!
So do you lose any more fish when using Barbless Flies.
Well it depends…………….
With small “sprackly” Trout on a River I think you do and that is a good thing. It saves you netting and/or handling them.
On a still water with most Trout around the two pound mark and with modern carbon rods which have a lot faster recovery that glass or cane then I do not think you lose any more.
You can of course lose many a Trout on Barbed Hooks and I believe that on the stocked Lochs with two pound fish you do not lose any more with good barbless flies.
I also believe that Flies on specifically designed Barbless Hooks lose less fish than de-barbed flies.
To me a day afloat or on the bank is just so much more hassle free with barbless hooks that I would never go back.
I f you would like to give them a go perhaps these links may be useful.