Video: Barbed vs. Barbless Hooks

Welcome to our series of videos called “One-Minute Fly-Tying Tips and Techniques” from the studio of Tim Flagler of Tightline Productions. Each video will teach a single tying skill, from the most basic to the advanced. Ultimately, the series will serve as a sort of encyclopedia of tying skills that will be a valuable resource for anyone who sits down at a vise to create a fly.

Although there are places where regulations require barbless hooks, the decision of whether to go barbed or barbless is usually left to the angler. In this video, Tim Flagler discusses the pros and cons of each choice, and he demonstrates a couple ways to mash the barbs on hooks on the water or at the vise. One thing that I would add is that a barbless hook is much easier to remove from human skin, should an errant cast drive the point into you.

11 thoughts on “Video: Barbed vs. Barbless Hooks”

  1. Phil, Thanks for adding the bit about removing hooks from human skin. Point well taken. Sorry, couldn’t resist.

  2. I second what Tightline said above. Having to push the hook all the way through your skin to cut it off just to remove the hook…is shall we say…painful!

    Do you think it takes more skill without the barb…therefore if you can land them without one, you’re a more impressive angler?

    Cast and Spear

  3. For sure! …. keeping a “tight line” is always important and even more crucial with a barbless hook.

  4. Having had to go to the ER to get a hook out of my thumb this spring where the shots to numb the thumb were only marginally less painful than attempting to get the hook out streamside I can say that I will be pinching down my barbs forever more.

  5. The global fishery for bonefish has benefited greatly from a nearly universal shift to boneless hooks. Releasing the fish is vastly easier to do and easier on the fish, less time out of the water etc. And though I’ve had days when the ratio of fish hooked to fish brought to hand dropped a bit low, I’ve never thought those that pulled loose did so because I used a barbless hook … fish under tension the full time. It’s also seldom that a fish into the mangroves and given slack line gets loose, though one might expect that.

    In these days of catch-and-release, barbless hooks should be the norm.

  6. Barbless all the way adds to the adrenaline rush adds to the beating heart which is already beating so fast adds to the concentration knowing one bit of slack line and uve lost your fish maybe even a pb but also adds to the story ….yes the story everybody favourite bit when the story has been told and u know uve caught that fish with sheer skill knowing that if you wanted to release that fish you could for somebody else to experience that same rush and knowing ur not away to rip a barbed hook out its mouth and leave some form of injury to the fish …..barbless all the way people for all the reasons above barbless hooks is the reason why I love fly fishing

  7. After having to go to the ER to remove an elongated hook from my thumb this spring , and the shots used to numb the thumb were just marginally less painful than the effort to remove the hook along the riverside, I can assure you that I’ll be pinching down my barbs for the rest of my life

    Fishing Snatch

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