When fishing for fish destined to be released, we think that pinching down your barb is pretty cool. Fish are fragile, and removing hooks with barbs causes more damage than removing hooks without barbs.. It’s that simple.
In fact, at Alaska West we do our best to instill a 100 percent barbless policy, encouraging all of our guests to de-barb every fly before it hits the water. Why? Because not only is it easier to take barbless hooks out of fish, they’re also easier to take out of people too.. Yes, it happens. But, nobody’s perfect!
It’s easy to forget to smash down the barb when switching flies in the heat of the moment, or perhaps you left the pliers in the boat. We’re all human. That said, struggling to dig out a barbed hook from a fragile fish because you forgot to pinch it down is a bummer.. And we’ve all been there.
That’s why we suggest pinching down all your barbs beforehand! If you tie your own flies, make smashing down the final step after removing it from the vise. Don’t have a pair of pliers handy? Simply insert the hook point into the jaws of the vice, clamp down gently, and voila! Barbless. If you don’t tie your own flies, consider taking the time to smash down the barbs on your flies before hitting the water, like while watching TV. It might not seem like a big deal, but you’ll appreciate the time spent reaching for your pliers on every fly change. It’s one more instant your fly could be in the water, you know, catching fish.
We’re not here to tell you what’s right, what’s wrong, or whether barbed hooks catch more, or less, fish. All we’re saying is that if you’re like us and like to pinch your barbs, try doing it before you hit the water. We think you, and the fish, will appreciate it.