Ask the Gear Guy

Barbless fishing hooks


Q. Dear Gear Guy, Where can you find unbarbed fishing hooks? I keep on catching pumpkin seed fish, and they have sharp teeth. I think unbarbed hooks would help.
— Dangerous Daniel, Mansfield, Conn.

A. Unbarbed hooks (they’re actually called barbless) will definitely make it simpler to get the fish off the hook. They’re especially popular with fly fishermen who do lots of catch-and-release fishing. And as long as you keep good tension on the line as you’re reeling in the fish, you probably won’t lose any more fish than if you were fishing with barbed hooks. That said, barbed hooks help the live bait or worms stay put so you will likely lose a little more bait when fishing with barbless hooks.

You can actually make most any fishing hook barbless. Just ask a parent to help. You’ll need a pair of pliers or a metal file. Have them either bend down the barbs with the pliers until they’re smooth or use the metal file to remove the barbs.

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Comments about “Barbless fishing hooks”

  1. GEAR MAN says:

    the easiest way is probably just to pinch the barb down on your hook with some pliers, but if you want the real unbarbed hooks, you can find them at just about any flyshop, since some people commonly use those kind of hooks to tie nymphs & other dry flies. They might not be the right size you’re looking for though.

  2. Akwalleye says:

    Pinching down the barbs is the probably the easiest way to accomplish what you are after. Sunfish are full of things that poke your fingers, so you might look into some fishing gloves that add some protection. You might upsize your baits to keep those little nibblers off your hook too. Sunfish do make tasty meals though.

  3. bigb says:

    just a random thing im going to say here if you have the new addition of the boyscout handbook in the first aid for a fish hook wound dont follow the derections its wrongyou are not post to yank it out that just tears up your flesh more you cut off the barb then pull it the way it came that doesnt tear you flesh.

  4. kevin says:

    Hi Daniel: Get yourself some long nosed or needle nosed pliers and carry them in your tackle box. Like the Gear Guy says you can crimp down the barb to make your hook barbless. Barbless hooks are a good idea when you’re releasing your fish because you don’t harm it as much. Another thing – a good pair of pliers is handy for getting hooks out of fish. Just get a grip near the bend of the hook with your pliers and twist out gently. Good Luck!

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