Bass Fishing, Bass Lures, Bass Boats, Russ Bassdozer

Shop @ Bassdozer Store | Lures, Rods, Reels | Boats, Motors, Electronics | Expert Articles | Reports | States | News | Forums | Tournaments | Clubs | Federations | Guides | Links | Books | Magazines | Surf Fishing | About Us  | Terms of Use

Hooks - Barbed or Barbless?
by Ralph Manns

Although studies reported in fishing magazines have suggested there is little difference between the survival of fish caught with barbless and barbed hooks, this isn't the case with black bass.

The studies were almost all made with trout, using small trout flies and/or salmon egg hooks. The hooks typically used to take bass are larger, with much more damaging barbs than those found in typical trout gear. Moreover, on the few studies made with bass, the fish were caught only once rather than repeatedly.

Moreover, the studies measured on survival and mortality of hooked fish, without assessing the non-fatal damage done by hook removal. Damage to bass, not survival, is the main reason we should use barbless hooks.

Now that catch-and release is more popular and the most rewarding fishing waters are those that force the release of most bass with special limits, the chances that bass will suffer hook injuries are much greater. Any successful angler who routinely fishes Lake Fork, for example, will catch many badly injured bass. This spring, I estimate more than 50 percent of my catch at Fork had missing, bleeding, and/ or baldly torn jaw bones and tissues. I caught many fish with badly distorted and disfigured mouths.

Some of the damaged bass were carrying hooks that someone had clearly cut off the leader at the hook. The unremoved hooks were fairly deep in the gullets of these bass and blocked any possibility that the fish could have eaten successfully. Many of the hook-bearing bass were thin an obviously food-deprived. Most of these hooks could have been successfully removed. I removed several, but removing these hooks would have been much easier and less damaging if they were barbless.

Throughout the spring, I would see one or two nice Fork bass float by, belly up every day -- wasted for either food or future angling enjoyment. Some of these bass might have lived if the anglers had used more care in handling and/or barbless hooks. Bass in Fork and similar waters may be caught repeatedly. My partners and I believe we caught several of the same bass when we returned to a hot-spot on a following day.

Barbless hooks reduce damage to mouth and throat tissues when hooks are removed. They also make the removal process much easier, allowing short-shanked hooks to be reversed out with needle-nosed pliers, and letting anglers carefully go through the gill slit to reverse long-shanked worm hooks caught fairly deep in the throat. The finding of science is that bass are usually more likely to survive if even deeply taken hooks are removed. Don't cut leaders unless you have no choice, and if you must leave a hook in a bass, leave a foot or more of the leader outside the fish to let it feed normally while recovering and eliminating the hook naturally. My article "Hooks In or Out," on this page provides details.

The barbs on hooks require harder hooks sets, and bass anglers will more easily hook more bass with barbless hooks. We use them much of the time, and lose very few bass in the process. There are drawbacks, however. The barbs hold live bait on the hook, and therefore barbed hooks must be used with live baits. Circle hooks are best here, unless the water is full of snags. Moreover, the barbs keep worms and other plastics in position for repetitive casting. When bass are biting well I use barbless worm hooks to protect the many bass we will hook and release, But, If the bite is slow, I use barbed hooks to let me cast and cast again without realigning the plastic baits.

Each sportsman angler must make his choices. Decide for yourself when the health of the fish and the fishery is more important than slightly increasing your own fishing success

Ralph Manns

Author Information.

Ralph Manns is a distinguished outdoor writer whose materials appear in popular publications such as In-Fisherman and other outdoor magazines. On the web, he is a contributor at the Bass Fishing Home Page.

Ralph is a strong proponent of conservation and proper care of the great bass fisheries and water resources that we must manage and protect as anglers. His articles always encourage proper handling of bass by anglers, in livewells, and during weigh-ins.

Email Ralph Manns at

Shop at Bassdozer's Store
Bassdozer Store
Men's Clothing at
Bass Pro Shops

May I ask you for a favor please? Please start here first whenever you shop online. Click on any store logo above or book below. Bassdozer gets a small sales commission if you begin shopping at these stores from here. You always get the same low price you would pay anyway. Thank you kindly for shopping at Bassdozer.

Kevin Vandam's Bass Strategies
Kevin Vandam

Secrets of a Champion
Kevin VanDam

Fishing on the Edge
Mike Iaconelli

Big Bass Zone
Bill Siemantel

Denny Brauer's Jig Fishing Secrets

Denny Brauer

Denny Brauer's Winning Tournament Tactics

Denny Bauer

Monte Burke

Thank you for visiting. Please enjoy!
Bass fishing lures, bass boats
Worldwide Bass Fishing, Bass Lures, Bass Boats