This graphic, unappetizing story comes courtesy of my friend Will Rice of Trout’s Flyfishing in Denver. Will took one for the team to underscore why fishing with barbed flies just isn’t worth it.
I always fish barbless. Trout, pike, saltwater, it doesn’t matter. I’ll admit that my motives are selfish. I’m less worried about the sore lips of a fish than I am worried about having to unstick myself. I get my face and fingers pierced at least three or four times a season.
The purpose of being a catch-and-release angler is almost completely defeated when you use barbed hooks. And I don’t think a barb gives the angler any statistically-significant advantage in terms of landing fish. If you can fight a fish with your rod looking like this, you’ll land most, barbs or not. My two cents.