This post is about two things related to fly tying and fly fishing: the barb and the pliers needed to remove a hook from a fish. It usually should be an easy deal right? You barbed all the hooks as you tied the flies or you barbed the flies as you stuck them into your fly boxes. Right?
Admission: Note to self to correct! I have at some point fallen into a habit of not barbing my hooks at the vise. I have become neglectful re this simple task. I rationalize that I will ‘simply’ de-barb the hook out on the water..no muss, no fuss. I suppose that is alright, but I have taken to using old, needle nose pliers. The groves extend up to the very tip and getting the barb between the grooves and flattening the barb has not been effective. How do I know this?
When I hook a fish, the hook, which should, if de-barbed, easily back out of the fish doesn’t. It stays stuck because of the slightest elevated barb my pliers failed to flatten. I also notice this on the off chance the hook catches fabric. Again, the hook should back out through the fabric without snagging. Hmm? it seems to snag. So, I ask ‘the same old question’ Why don’t you barb the hooks at the vise where the process is easiest? Well, I kind of ask it like that…it is more like a sigh, an utterance and some thought of me at the table blowing off the process and pay for it now.
two, no three obvious solutions: (1) barb them all at the table (2) buy barbless hooks (3) buy better pliers.
I cannot, personally, justify the $125.-175. spendy/trendy pliers suitable for freshwater/saltwater applications you see in shops. I imagine I would if I dealt with heavy wire, heavy mono etc. I know there are less expensive needle nose pliers out there so I will find them, if for nothing else removing the occasional fly that is inhaled deeply by the fish charging up from the rear.
So, the best solution for me, if I am adhering to Catch and Release, is to buy barbless hooks or de-barb all the hooks in advance and then proceed to tie….really no big deal. I just need to break the lazy habit I adopted.
Another side note here…a practical on the water issue: if you are teaching someone else and providing them the flies, a problem arises when they hook a fish on a fly you did not earlier barb and did not barb on the water. You assume they know to do that. They don’t. They might not be fully outfitted. Now if they get that fish in, they will most probably stress the fish repeatedly attempting to remove the barbed hook. If they hook themselves the hook will not back out nice and easy. If you are teaching someone make sure they have the tools and that their flies are barbless.