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.