Go barbless?

During my recent articles and videos on protecting our pike population, I started thinking about other means to reduce handling time.

We already covered the use of a net and hand landing a fish, keeping the fight short and uphold a certain threshold to stop fishing for pike (depends on the water system, but above 23c my general advice is to switch to different species). But another factor that is worth exploring is fishing barbeless. Let’s dive in!


Trebles and single hooks, 99% of them are equipped with a barb on the tip of the hook. It is a super effective way to keep the fish on the other end of the line, as a sharp hook slides in easily but it is so much harder to get out of that same spot. This makes unhooking a fish take up more time, time we want to keep to a minimum especially during the warmer months.

But why are almost all trebles and lures equipped with trebles that are barbed? Fishing, in the end and for the most part, is about catching fish. Removing the barb has its benefits but also a couple downsides.

Benefits of fishing barbeless:

  • Easier to unhook, saves up a lot of time
  • Less damage to the fish
  • Better hook penetration, as the barb makes the tip wider and thus you need more force to set the hook successfully
  • Safer: if you accidently hook a yourself or a buddy, it is much easier to remove the hook

Downsides of fishing barbeless:

  • Fish can easily shake off the hook when jumping/thrashing. Especially with heavier lures that act like a counter-weight
  • The need of keeping tension on the line is of upmost importance, no room for errors

As with most things it is finding the balance between fish safety and catching fish.


Big heavy baits might cause a problem acting as a counter weight…

The coming summer I will experiment with removing the barbs on my hooks. I fish because I want to catch fish. Ofcourse I enjoy the other elements as well, like good company, being outside and enjoying nature and the ‘hobby with a hobby’ element like lures and boating. But I want to catch fish too and I will experience myself if the potential trade-off is worth it. Will I lose more fish? What other downsides can I discover?

If you want to join me, getting rid of barbs on your trebles is easy. Just a good long-nose plier and squash those barbs. Be aware, you cannot reverse this process so if you want to go back to using barbed hooks, you need to replaces those hooks/trebles. Let me know what your findings are if you do. I will keep you guys updated on my findings, stay tuned!