V. Paul Reynolds in the Sun Journal (Maine) argues that barbless hooks are unnecessary and in fact possibly harmful to fish. Hmmm? I am astounded anyone would advocate for barbs on hooks, even treble hooks if the intent is to release the fish.
If a fisher does not know how to release a fish, whether the hook is barbed or barbless, that is a whole other educational matter to be addressed. However, the mere process of using forceps, pliers, fingers to back a barb out of fish can only be viewed as potentially more problematic for the fish…compared to a barbed hook. Over penetration? Perhaps an issue if a 8″ trout takes a size 2 streamer. But, this does not compute, biologists aside, that barbs are acceptable if releasing your catch. There just is more shaking, pulling, twisting, grabbing, stressing to remove a stubborn barb that has done its job. Barb the hooks for easier release of the fish, your ear and your clothing. Now lest I appear inconsistent, I do not smash my barbs in advance of tying, and I rarely use totally barbless hooks. I round down the barb on the water…and I do like a slight bump from the rounded down barb on salmon, steelhead hooks.