Benefits of Fishing with Barbless Hooks (vs. Barbed)

Fishing with Barbless Hooks

Fishing with barbless hooks is gaining more and more popularity.

Anglers often argue about both barbed and barbless hook types, and some of them will never agree on which option is better!?

Barbless hook are usually used by those who practice catch and release or care about the environment and preservation of fish species.

Using barbless hooks alone will not prevent injuries on fish, and you will have to learn how to handle the fish carefully and how to remove the hook too.



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What is The Difference Between Barbed and Barbless hooks?

A lot of new anglers don’t know about different hooks and they buy the first ones they see, which are usually barbed hooks.

Barbless hook vs. barbed is a frequent dilemma, and here is a difference:

Barbed hooks

Both barbed and barbless hooks have the same shape, but the difference is the tip of a hook, the one that gets attached to the fish. Barbed hooks have a small and sharp triangular tip which is pointed in the opposite direction of the hook end.

This triangular tip is called barb!

That triangle is there to “secure” the fish on the hook. Barbed hooks stay in place and it is very hard for the fish to get detached. Moreover, even the anglers can sometimes have difficulties while removing the hook.

Anglers like these hooks because it is harder to lose already caught fish with barbed hooks.

Besides, they are sold everywhere and every single fishing store has them in all hook sizes.

These hooks can be quite unpleasant and painful for the angler if they accidentally attach themselves on a hook, and to be honest, it happens.

Barbed hooks are also cheaper in many stores.

The reason behind this is because many factories produce them, have the machinery for them and switching to barbless is not worth it for them.

However, this is changing, as local rules and regulations in many places around the world, especially in private ponds, require usage of barbless hooks only.

Barbless hooks

Barbless hooks have just the pointy and sharp tip, with no triangle.

Unfortunately, these hooks are sometimes more expensive, harder to find in small and rural shops and often available in limited sizes.

Fishing with barbless hooks has numerous advantages for both anglers and the fish, and they are going to be mentioned later on ...

Using a barbless hook can be a bit challenging, especially for a beginner.

There is a higher chance of loosing a fish and your hooking and retrieving skills are going to be tested when using these hooks for the first time. They are also safer and easier to remove if you accidentally hook yourself.

If you are practicing catch and release, barbless hooks are the way to go.

There is one downside of these hooks and that is the lack of a grip. As the fish is moving and trying to escape, it will move up and down the hook, and there is a chance for the fish to slide down from the hook. Losing a catch can be annoying.

Every angler has a right to decide which one to use in a given situation. If you plan to take the fish home for lunch, there is nothing wrong with using a barbed hook. However, in my opinion, you should use barbless as much as you can, even if you have no intention of releasing the fish.

What is The Impact of Barbed and Barbless Hooks on Fish?

As you probably concluded, fishing with barbless hook is better for the fish and the environment. When comparing barbless hook vs. barbed, there is a lot more arguments for using barbless ones.

Barbed hooks

Removing barbed hooks from fish mouth causes injuries that can affect the fish ability to feed. Even if the wound is not that large, because of it shape and ripped tissue, the wound can get infected and the fish will eventually die.

Sometimes, the fish can completely swallow the hook. If the hook is barbed, there is no chance for the fish to survive. If the hook is barbless, you could save the fish.

Some studies have concluded that using barbed hooks doubles the fish mortality, and that is a problem of every angler.

Keeping a healthy population ensures years of fishing in the future.

Barbless hooks

There is one common misconception about fishing with barbless hooks. Some anglers think that handling a fish on these hooks will result in overplaying it, hence the fish will be exhausted and may die after the release.

This is not completely wrong, but it is not a hook problem. This is the angler problem.

Same as the improper fish handling outside of the water. If the angler knows what he is doing, the fish will be fine.

Barbless hooks are less damaging for the fish tissue. When fishing for sensitive fish like trout, whose skin can easily tear and break, barbless hooks are the only way not to kill the fish.

AND one more thing - you should know what size hook for trout fishing you have to use ...

What are the Benefits of Barbless hooks?

There are numerous benefits of barbless hooks on fish including the already mentioned fish safety.

Better hook sets

Barbless hooks penetrate the tissue inside the fish mouth easier. Using them will increase the chance of successful hooking.

Anglers often think this is not true, but try to intentionally impale something on a barbed and barbless hook and see. The pointy top of a barbless hook is sharp and has a small diameter, less resistance and therefore it is more efficient in initial hooking.

Fish safety

This was already mentioned, but it is not just about catch and release. If your line breaks, the fish has a better chance to remove the barbless hook and continue to live normally. And catch and release is not just about the fish you intentionally catch.

It can happen that a certain, not targeted, fish specie ends up on your hook. Maybe that specie is protected, or not allowed to fish at that time, so removing the hook is easy and causes minimal damage.

Faster handling

Removing a barbless hook is less time consuming. Whether you remove it to release the fish, or you are in a hurry for any reason, to remove it you just have to gently unhook the fish. Nothing will get stuck, cut the fish or even your hand.

And the faster you release the fish, there is a greater chance for the fish to completely recover immediately after you put it back into the water. Also, it makes it easier to remove the hook from uncooperative fish.

Improved fishing skills

Anyone can retrieve a fish with a barbed hook, but the barbless one will really make a difference.

By using them you will have to learn to sense every motion of the fish and handle the equipment precisely. You will have to have a good timing for everything not to lose the fish.

It may seem like a tedious job but becoming better at something you like to do is always a benefit.

Obeying the rules

In many locations around the world using barbed hooks is not allowed. If you are handy with barbless hooks, you will be able to enjoy fishing anywhere. Those using just the barbed ones may have limited access o fishing sites, if they don’t want to change hooks.

Reducing the environmental impact

Lost hooks and lines can potentially be dangerous for other animal species who spend time in or around the water. This is not a frequent problem, but it does happen. Animals like beavers and otters can get tangled in lines and hooks. If the hook is barbed, and large, it is harder for the animal to free itself.

Angler safety

It was already mentioned that you will easily remove the barbless hook from your hand, and you could say that you don’t care about that.

But keep in mind that while fishing, you could accidentally catch a person fishing with you, who is your friend or family. And they will be in less pain and hassle if the hook is barbless.


When thinking about barbless hooks vs. barbed, especially in sports fishing purpose, anglers should go for barbless.

Fishing with barbless hooks has a lot of advantages / benefits, for the fish, the anger and the environment. Using barbed hooks should be limited to certain situations so that the released fish has a chance of survival with no consequences.

If you have access to barbed hooks only, there is one thing you can do, and that is to crimp the barb. A pair of pliers will come in handy, and you can do it at home, before you head out to your favourite fishing spot. But be careful while doing so to avoid injuries.

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I am Siniša Pintar (friends call me Sina), the guy behind and eBook writer. This site is base camp for fishing enthusiasts from all over the world. I love fishing and want to share all my stories, knowledge and my experience with any and all potential anglers. Read more ...

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