Video: How to Properly Pinch the Barb on a Fly Hook


Did you ever pinch the barb on a fly, but when you catch a fish and go to remove the hook, it doesn’t slide out easily? “Gee,” you might say. “I’m sure I pinched that barb.” And it’s probably true: you did put the barb in your forceps and give it a good squeeze. But that might not be enough to get the job done.

In this video, Joe Rotter from Red’s Fly Shop demonstrates the proper way to pinch the barb on a hook. You have to make sure you have the right tool, and then you need to take a little extra time to ensure you’ve truly flattened the barb. The fish will thank you, and if you ever hook yourself or anyone else, you’ll be glad that you went the extra step.

15 thoughts on “Video: How to Properly Pinch the Barb on a Fly Hook”

  1. How many years have I been pinching barbs? When I saw the title of this video I thought “huh”? But it does show a better way to ensure the barb is flattened and carries a great conservation message. Thanks!

  2. Great instructional video with a spot-on message about de-barbed or barbless hooks as the first essential step insuring the survival of released fish. This is especially true for young fish – those “dinks” that are too often mishandled, even by guides and experienced anglers, are the future of our fisheries.
    Let that sink in… take care of those babies.
    One study shows that young fish released from barbed hooks suffer 43% greater mortality than fish released from barbless hooks. This study was conducted in the wild – not a hatchery.
    I appreciate the emphasis given in this video to playing fish rapidly, releasing them while they still have plenty of spunk. That doesn’t always happen. I’d like to emphasize here the importance of reviving fish – rather than letting them swim off, stressed, possibly to expire later. This is true for young fish in addition to mature fish that may be exhausted from a spirited and prolonged battle against light tippet. Delayed mortality is serious – and can be avoided by properly reviving fish to reduce lactic acid buildup before release.
    Our new slogan, at our shop, is Catch, Revive, and Release. CR&R begins with de-barbing the hook.

  3. Two thoughts……. if you tie your own flies, de-barb the hook before you tie the fly. Since it rarely happens, but the hook can break in this procedure. It is better to break before you tie.

    Likewise, if you buy flies have the fly shop de-barb the hook before you pay for them. If the hook breaks it is not your $2.50 that is lost.

  4. This is SO helpful. I have been crushing barbs repeatedly, and often they didn’t pass the “stick and pull” from my shirt test. After trying this technique, success! Flies I wouldn’t even consider using are back in the fly box, and my anxiety about potentially harming fish is much assuaged. Thank you!

  5. A word on de-barbing hooks; speaking as a fly tyer for over 40 years, I’d strongly recommend de-barbing the hooks BEFORE tying the fly. The reason being, I’ve seen many, many hooks break when de-barbing them, which will render your fly useless. For those that don’t tie flies, buy flies that are already barbless.

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