Barbless Hooks: The Key to Upping Your Catch Rate

In the world of fly fishing, there is a lot of controversy on the subject of barbless hooks. Here are a few facts on these hooks that could make a significant impact on the number of fish that you bring to the net.

Barbless hooks are required to fish in competitions. However, I have come to love them for, exactly what you weren’t thinking, their ability to “stick” or stay in the fish’s lips. Think about the gauge of a barbed hook. The barb makes a very significant increase in the size of the hole poked through the fish’s mouth upon setting the hook and less friction holding it in.

Essentially the same thing that you think is preventing the hook from exiting the fish’s mouth is actually aiding in its ability to slip out. A barbless hook allows you to get a hook into a fish’s mouth with half the effort in the setting of the hook.

If you take note of the shape of a competition-grade barbless hook such as a Hanak or a Dohiku you might notice the length of the hook point and its long taper to the point. This is no manufacturer’s defect; this is designed so that with one easy hook set you have a long point (more hook that the fish needs to shake to get off) and more friction in the fish’s mouth to keep the hook secure.

There is nothing more rewarding to me than watching a fish, making a cast to it with your own fly, catching it, and releasing it unharmed. This brings me to the more humane part of the argument. “a barbless hook is less harmful to the fish.” As I attempted to point out earlier, these hooks make noticeably smaller entry holes and are less likely to rip the flesh around a fish’s mouth.

These hooks can get expensive (between 6 and 9 dollars a pack), but I assure you, if you give these things a go you will know where that money went!

For the sake of catching more fish and preserving our fisheries try some barbless hooks and put my theories to the test!

Echo Shadow PE Fly Fishing Rod

To start this is a rod built with the competitive fly fisherman in mind for sure. I chose to purchase the 10ft. 3wt. because I was looking for a rod that could be useful in many different types of fly presentations.

First, the Echo Shadow PE is not made for looks it’s made for performance although it does have a stealthy look. It’s a flat black with a blank with a black graphite reel seat so no exotic reel seat here. The guides are all single-foot guides that help when using hand-tied leaders. Lastly, the grip is made of high-quality cork to complete the rod.

As for how the rod fishes now that is where this stick shines. The 10 ft. 3 Wt is the most versatile tool in my arsenal right now. Fly fishing is a demanding sport where having the right tools makes your time on the water productive. If you are just starting out, you can check the Best Fly Rod Under 200 Buyer’s Guide for the latest and greatest fly fishing gear.

No matter what style of fishing you are doing you feel less fatigue with this rod because it only weights
around 92 grams. The length gives you the reach that you need when using many euro nymphing techniques. I personally use about a 20 ft.-25 ft. leader most of the time and Shadow PE cast great. This is considered to be a fast-action rod but that does not tell the whole story. The butt section is stiff and the tip is soft. This is the best of both worlds.

Having a stiffer butt section that allows this rod to handle bigger fish without even noticing that this is a 3wt. I have landed multiple 20+ trout with no problem. As for the tip, this is the best attribute of the Shadow PE. The tip is soft so it helps protect the light tippet that we all seem to have to use when fishing a Euro setup. The Shadow PE is a Euro-stlye nymphing machine but also works well with a dry dropper.

But the best thing about the tip on the Shadow PE is the strike detection. The tip allows you to feel even the slightest strike. There have been times I was fishing with the leader stretched tight and using a sighter and saw no movement in the sighter but I felt a strike. This is why this Shadow PE is built for the competitive fisherman it’s a tool that used the correct way can help you catch that one extra fish. And as you know that one extra fish means a lot.

The Shadow PE is one of the best fly fishing rods on the market today. This rod was built for competition and designed by a competitive fly fisherman and it shows. From top to bottom, this is what a competition fly rod should be.