Barbless Bass Flies

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Barbless Bass Flies

Postby nielson » Fri Jun 19, 2009 9:37 am

There are many stretches of trout water that are "single barbless hooks only" water. What I don't understand is why there are not similar restrictions on bass waters? Of course, maybe there are such waters and I just don't know about them. But assuming I'm correct, what is the reason?

The bass angling world has pretty much embraced the catch and release concept but not the barbless hook idea. Is it because bass hooks and baits are normally larger than trout flies and are easier for a bass to get off if not barbed? Or....

Because a bass's mouth is larger than a trout's it's easier to unhook a deeply hooked fish. Or......

Bass are a lot hardier and can stand the additional handling resulting from barbed hooks than a trout can stand? Or.....

Something else?

I've been bending the barbs down on bass flies for years. My reasons: it's easier to unhook a fish which allows me to get back to fishing quicker and, if I impale myself with one, it's a bit easier to get out.

Any thoughts? Jim
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Postby Clay Walters » Fri Jun 19, 2009 10:35 am

Probably because it has virtually zero benefit to the fish in spite of what we all think. Studies have shown the mortality among hooked fish is about the same regardless of whether or not hooked on barbed or barbless hooks.

I still press all my barbs at the vise because its so much easier to unhook myself. :shock:

:D

Clay
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Postby nielson » Fri Jun 19, 2009 3:55 pm

"Studies have shown the mortality among hooked fish is about the same regardless of whether or not hooked on barbed or barbless hooks."

I heard that same thing before but I've also read the opposite so I'm not sure what is correct. My guess is both are correct and the difference is in the definition of mortality. It's also hard for me to understand why there would be so many barbless hook regulations without some rational basis.

This may very well be one of those many things in my life that I'll never understand.

Jim
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Postby Clay Walters » Fri Jun 19, 2009 4:49 pm

Truly I believe its one of those things they didn't know until after it had been tried for many years. Heck, it sounds logical to me. But then I've had most fish die in handling from other things and not because of a barbed hook. A barbless hook thru cartilidge rips just as many lips as a barbed one. A hook swallowed too deep or thru the gill plates is deadly barbed or not.

Maybe its just because a few more may get away on barbed hooks than on barbless but there are arguments both ways on that too.

:lol:
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Postby BlackwaterBill » Fri Jun 19, 2009 10:06 pm

Jim I think you have three good rantionales, but really the bass get off barbed hook so much already if they were barbless I think the catch rate would diminish raidly. I have had days where I can get solid hits and still only land 1 out of 3 bass because they are so adept at getting loose. Of course I have days when I catch near 100% of my strikes so luck may have a lot to do with it.
"I am by practice and predilection a top-water man. How I love to hear a rampaging bass wallop a capering surface plug!" Havilah Babcock from Monafilment Hates People
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Postby derekp » Sun Jun 21, 2009 10:47 pm

This is a good question and I myself am still sorting it out. BTW, I fly fish only and debarb all my hooks but in the past did not do either.

However, in my limited experience...

When I first started fly fishing for bass, my bite to land ratio went down some.
When I started debarbing my flies, I saw a slight increase.
After debarbing the flies, I could unhook and release a bass in a few seconds without tearing any mouth cartlige where before debarbing, I sometimes took over a minute and sometimes disfigured the fishes jaw to remove the hook.

BlackWaterBill makes a good point:
I have had days where I can get solid hits and still only land 1 out of 3 bass because they are so adept at getting loose. Of course I have days when I catch near 100% of my strikes so luck may have a lot to do with it.

Currently, some days I land 90% of the bites and some days land 30%. I am convinced that if I use the same techniques, the way the fish bites will alter the equation a lot more than debarb or not debarb.

What I think happened (in my experience) is the long wimpy fly rod softened the hook set and my ratio went down. After debarbing my hooks, it was easier to penetrate the mouth because the barb was now a hump (instead of a peak) and has a "sharper" profile. Why do studies talk about mortality rates? I bet most of those fish swallowed the hook (whether debarbed or not) and had done some serious damage to the gills or stomach. I think (and could be wrong) that once a fish gets a barbed or debarbed hook in his gills or stomach, the game is over.

Yeah, you can use barbs and sometimes must use pliers to "rip some lips" while removing hook and the fish will survive (needing plastic surgery).

You can also go barbless and the damage to the fishes mouth is a small punture wound, not a jaw structure aleration. That being said, I believe with all things being equal, you will loose a few more fish on average by going barbless. However, when going barbless, you will also permenantly damage minimal fish jaws when removing hooks.

Choice is up to you. IMOP, if you are keeping fish, I advise use barbs. If you want to release then I suggest debarb.

Good posts all,
Boyscoout
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Postby smalliesam » Mon Jun 22, 2009 7:15 am

For the fly fisherman, I don't think going barbless is a fish mortality issue as much as it's a technical issue when is comes to bass. My point being is that with a fly rod you have less hooking power than those who can rip the lips off a fish with a med. heavy casting rod. So, barbless hooks penetrate a basses mouth easier than barbed hooks. That, and with fly rod, you're well aware that if you don't keep a tight line on a bass, you'll lose him barb or no barb. I hope you found my reply penetrating. . .
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