What Is a Barbless Hook

It’s well-documented that when fish are handled excessively or kept out of water too long, their survival rate plummets so some states and regions developed restrictions on certain species of fish that demand using tackle like Barbless Hooks especially when Catch & Release procedures are being used, so always check but What is a Barbless Hook?

Barbless fishing hooks do not have a barb which is a reversed point below the tip of the hook that keeps a fish from freeing itself after it’s been hooked and is necessary for the Catch & Release Program to ensure survival & sustainable fishing preventing trauma & serious unnecessary injuries.

Using a Barbless Hook could make the difference between a healthy fish released to fight another day or a fish that has experienced too much trauma to survive or has experienced enough stress not to recover after a short length of time.


Why Use Barbless Hooks


Fishing Cartoon clipart - Fishing, Text, Font, transparent clip art There are plenty of good reasons to use barbless hooks for fishing:

  • There could be restrictions in set place for the species of fish in the State or the region you are fishing in.
  • There are rules in tournaments for anglers to use barbless hooks
  • The most important reason is that the hooks are easier to remove from the fish’s mouth. Less trauma on the fish gives a fish a better chance of surviving for Catch and Release programs or if you don’t plan on keeping the species you caught.
  • They are safer for the fisherman using them who might hook themselves accidentally. If you do fish it is inevitable that you will at one or another hook yourself.


The Barb that we are talking about is located in the area behind the hook point. Its function is to keep the fish from sliding back off in the opposite direction by catching the fish before moving down the shank. From my experience and most others who are found on the water and enjoy fishing, Barbed Hooks can save a fish from escaping but in a lot of cases will add more stress and trauma to the whole event of landing the fish. Because of this, the fish is more likely to die.

Humanely killed fish can also improve the taste of the meat for a couple of reasons. There are a few different methods of doing this with bleeding immediately after killing the fish a big part of the process. 


How To Make Barbless Hooks



You can purchase hooks that don’t come with Barbs called Barbless Hooks or you can pinch the barb easily down on the hook yourself. I use a pair of flat jaws needle-nose pliers that will work fine or a pair of hemostats. Crimp barbed hooks or pinch the barb flat against the hook. This will make the barb flush against the shank of the hook eliminating the Barb and making the entire shank of the hook smooth and what is on it able to slide back and forth.

Take your finger and run it around the inside curve of the shank and there should be no friction or catching on your skin. You can test on a piece of Styrofoam to see if there is any piece of the barb still left on the hook by running the hook through and sliding it back out.

Better yet, if Barbs are illegal for a species or in a certain State regulation check with the cloth of your shirt because that is how a Game Warden will check if your fly or hook is barbless simply by running the hook through his shirt to see if it slides through and back out of the cloth without catching.




What is Topwater Fishing

How to Keep a Fish On a Barbless Hook



A diagram of how to use side pressure when fishing a riverBarbed hooks are essentially regular fishing hooks. They have a small, backward-facing point near the tip of the hook. The barb is meant to provide resistance when the hook is pulled out of whatever kind of fish it’s in. The purpose of a barb is simple to keep the fish hooked more securely but obviously, the barb can be detrimental to the fish.

Besides, being more harmful to the fish, the Barb can also make it harder to slide the hook through the skin on the fish’s mouth interfering with the initial bite because the hook and barb increase the diameter and can obstruct the bite. Not a great argument but I’ve heard it.

Resistance is created by the barb on a barbed hook, which makes it more difficult for the hook point to penetrate. This increases the chances of losing fish and a bad hook set. Barbless hooks penetrate much easier and require far less force.

In most cases with no Barb, the fish has to be treated somewhat differently in order to land it. The biggest reason to switch to barbless hooks, though, is probably how fast the fish can be de-hooked and on its way.

A hook set deep in the fish’s mouth can be harder to get out which delays the whole process of Catch & Release lowering the odds of the mortality of a fish. Barbless hooks will often slip out with one pull, and sometimes come dislodged on their own in the net before you even have to do anything. This makes it easier for you and them.

If the fish starts to head downstream, drop your rod tip to the upstream side and apply pressure. If you’re using the butt section of your rod, you should have enough support to turn the fish around and get it facing upstream again. walk towards the fish until you turn it, and keep using this upstream side pressure to guide the fish upstream. The fish will swim in the direction it’s facing. Adjust your rod according to the direction it’s facing.


  • Try fishing with flies if you can. Live baits have more chance of being swallowed or hooked deeper in the fish’s throat. Flies are almost non-intrusive and are found right at the tip of the mouth of a fish.
  • Don’t exhaust the fish- if the fish is downstream direct them sideways towards the shore instead of raising the tip of the rod and pulling them straight towards you while walking towards the hooked fish to net it.
  • Keep slack out of your line keeping the fish from swallowing the hook
  • Be more aware and on top of bites and nibbles
  • Tip-up with a fish on just like your pop told you


It’s well-known that the longer a fish is out of the water the less chance it has to recover. We must be responsible and become good stewards of the earth we enjoy so much.


How Much Oxygen Do Fish Need



JimGalloway Author/Editor




Recent Posts