Sticking Point


Two’s company three’s a crowd 


To Barb or not to Barb that is the question, whether ’tis nobler for the carp to suffer, the barbs and lines of a fortunate angler, or to take against a sea of carpy opinions, and by opposing end the barb! Hamlet [sic]

Apologies to the Bard of Avon, William Shakespeare, but a Facebook post by Angling Direct seemed to divide anglers. They were asked if you owned a fishery what would be the top three rules. Amongst 160 comments there were as many for and against barb hooks, plus many other conflicting views on booze and drugs etc, see Weedy Swim.

Returning to hooks, and when I started fishing as a kids you could only get barbed hooks and it was just a question of whether they were spade end or eyed. That choice was dependent on your knot tying ability.

As I understand it barbless hooks came about for the match fisherman and the speed and ease of unhooking, plus when landing fish quickly the line is taught, especially on the then ‘new to the UK’ pole, and therefore it was unlikely the fish would shed the hook.

Now for carp angling, usually fishing at distance, the line often goes slack following a bite as the fish swims towards you. Therefore you would think a barbed hook would be preferable.

Here is where opinions are divided.

Some will tell you that barbless hooks do less damage to a carps mouth, whereas others will say it does more, as without the barb the hook is inclined to move around and rip through the fishes flesh.

Fisheries and anglers have very differing options in fish welfare.

Back to the hook hold and with the preference to drop the lead again a barbed hook would seem the logical choice as without the downward pressure of the lead you would want a secure hook hold that a barb would provide and thereby land the carp.

If we follow this way of thinking; a barbless hook is only effective when the lead is retained and so is the downward pressure. But the counter to this, that is often voiced is; the lead allows the carp to shake its head and dislodge the hook. So again a barbed hook is better as the hook hold is less prone to move easily.

We could get into lead weight and hook sharpness (see Heavy Metal) here but I want to just focus on the barb. Equally we could riff on about hook patterns but that another post, one day.

From a carp anglers point of view, I think logically, a barb is preferable plus when you look at the size of a carps mouth in comparison to a size 6 hook barb or no barb the impact on the lips is similar.

Why then are some fisheries insisting on barbless?

In my view, to make catching carp harder.

A barbless hook, with that big lead to ensure the hook goes in that is then crashed around the swim will scare off anything with fins.

A barbless hook, plus dropping the lead in the weed or snags will see that hook shed as the carp twists and turns, ducks and dives into underwater hazards. 

All these losses will bring us back to the lake time and time again as our prize continues to eluded us and make more money for fishery owners.

Is a micro barb the answer? Or a beaked point? – neither one nor the other and something else for us to buy! See Balance Sheet. and making money for the tackle giants. I have few, but why use a micro if you can use a barb, and why use a barbless when a beak would perhaps be better, but there is still the issue of mouth damage and retaining the lead.

Or is Carppuzzle just making mischief much like Hamlet.

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

Tightlines (unless it’s a drop back!)

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