Thursday, April 17, 2014

Bro, Do You Even Debarb?!

Ah, yes. I remember when I was young and foolish and never debarbed my hooks. I killed many fish this way and if they weren't killed in the process of me ripping the hook out of their throat or lip, they'd swim off in even more pain and I'd struggle to get them free which would cause even more harm to them as the barb is in the way!

I first started debarbing my hooks after I came back from Idaho in September of last year. They all debarbed their hooks no matter what size as it made for the catching and releasing of fish quite simple. Then it got me thinking....why don't I do this? I did it for a week straight as I was more or less forced to but I then finally saw the light! It really made me a better fisherman.

Probably one of my favorite fish caught to date on the fly. 26" 7lb steelhead on my 2wt. The hook was debarbed.
So, here's why I debarb which is really in no particular order:

1. It reduces the harm caused to the fish.

    Think about it: when you bring in a fish and the barb is still intact, that hook could potentially be buried deep in the throat or in other sensitive areas. If you snag a fish especially in the gut or even face, it can create a mess when you try to get it out. Yes, a quick but firm jerk with a pair of pliars or mitten clamps will also do just as well but that barb can increase the risk of a larger hole especially during a fight! Debarbing also preserves the beauty of the fish. There's also a better hook up ratio as the hook penetrates easier.

23" rainbow caught on a giant black beetle fly. Trailed behind a hopper.

2. It's easier to get out of the fish as well as foreign objects such as yourself!

    We've all been there: you're nymphing on the bottom of some skinny water or stripping a streamer in a big river for some hog steel, you miss a fish and when you pull your line out of the water, your fly gets stuck in your clothes or worse! Your skin! Now, how painful would it be to yank that hook out of your skin if you didn't have someone else to help you? It's pretty bad. Trust me. I also hate it when my clothes get ruined because I cannot get the hook out and as a result, I have to either leave it in there till I get the proper tools to actually take it out or just rip it out which sometimes causes holes to form in my clothes which I REALLY don't want. : )

3. It makes you a far better angler!

    Think about it. What does a barb do when you hook into a fish? More or less, keep the fish from shaking the hook especially when there is slack in the line! Debarbing makes you a better angler because a) makes you want to land the fish faster because you now have a greater chance of losing the fish because of no barb, b) you make yourself control the tension on not just the drag but the line as well and c) taking control of the fish so you can in fact land the fish in a quicker amount of time.

Gotta love the hognose sucker! Amazing fish to catch! Hard fighters especially on a 2wt! This fish was accidentally snagged but because I debarbed my hook, it was easy to get out! : )

Now, granted, these are just my personal views and opinions on this subject. I have addressed both pros and cons on the subject and really always debarb. Another point to address is the cost of barbed vs barbless hooks. There really is almost a 50% increase in price respectively! Granted, really makes sense as once you think about it, the companies are trying to appeal to the mass market who buy hooks and don't think about crushing the barb. It's just a mass production thing more than anything. Hope this all makes sense as I've written this at work at some stupid hour as I work 3rd shift.

Your thoughts on this controversial subject in this day and age?

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