You’ll hook more fish, and enjoy a few other benefits to boot. How so you say? Believe it or not, barbless hooks are a better option in many ways for almost every type of rod and reel sport fishing.
Any lure can be made barbless with a pair of pliers
For almost every type of lure fishing we do, usually targeting snapper, kingfish and the like, there are some real benefits for using barbless hooks. Especially around workups, wherever fish are spawning and aggressive, or wherever you intend to possibly release a fish.
You will actually hook MORE fish, and become a better angler if you persevere with going barbless for a while, and then you may not go back.
Let’s break it down. In no order of priority here is why you should at least give barbless fishing some consideration.
It’s easy to crimp a barb closed with pliers, but a better option for the truly dedicated is to buy high quality Japanese hooks that are designed to be barbless specifically. They mean a stronger needle point with no barb-lump to offer a point of resistance or place for corrosion to start.
See how clean a pair of Van Fook factory barbless hooks are compared to a 'pinched-over' barbless
You will have a better hook-up rate.
It is much easier to set a barbless hook. It requires far less pressure to penetrate the fishes mouth, period. That makes using lighter gear more effective, and means more hook-ups that stick.
Trout fishermen have adopted barbless hooks for years now, and it gives those big soft wands a helping hand when it comes to getting connected.
They teach better fishing technique
Once you have hooked a fish, any angler with good technique stands just as much chance at landing a fish without a barb being in play.
As long as you are smooth with your lift and wind, keep a constant pressure on the fish, you won’t lose it due to not having a barb.
They allow for easy and more successful release
It took a mate, quite some time, and a good set of pliers to get this hookset out, and it still took too long as we went for a release
Workup season in the gulf is a classic example of where using a barbless hook is just a better option all round. You are in a feeding frenzy and you are going to hook big fish that you may intend releasing.
Stick baiting is another good application where many fish end up deliberately released, and big kingfish flailing around with pair of trebles – six hook points – is a better proposition without barbs.
Going barbless means that fish can easily be released whilst in the water or resting in the net, and you aren’t mucking around wrestling with the hook wasting precious time. It means getting a quick photo is easier, or even better, not touching the fish at all is an option.
Releasing fish is becoming far more common, thankfully. However, minimising the amount of time you are messing with a hook can make a big difference to a clean operation.
Here's a bit more on that from Scott Cushman at Digital Fish
They can allow you to be selective
Nothing is more of a pain than fishing in 50 metres and hooking up tiddlers that then suffer blown-bum as they are abruptly winched to the surface.
With barbless, if you hook up a small fish, rather than having to haul it up to release it, and risking barotrauma, you can simply drop the tension deliberately and let the small fish at least have a chance at throwing the hook.
This often works, and Boom! you’re back in the hunt fishing for a bigger hit and the little guy is able to grow up for next time.
They are safer, especially with kids on board
Often things don’t go to plan when kicking fish, multiple hook rigs, slime, fingers, and a moving environment all come in to play.
We are not supposed to hook ourselves, but it can happen and barbs are a straight up bitch to remove from humans.
Even pulling them out of material and clothing can be a pain, let alone a good skinful.
Keep the kids smiling with less chance of putting them off at an early age any way you can
Barbless means the hook is out as quickly as it went in, and life goes on with significantly less drama. Consider this with kids or rookies on board.
There are currently very few lures on the market, if any, that come equipped with barbless hooks, and that’s simply a mindset that will take a long time to change.
It’s up to you to start with a simple pair of pliers taken to your rig. Start with your workup gear, or the kid’s flasher rigs for a toe in the water and take it from there.