There’s the barb!

Before Cuba I dutifully went through and crimped barbs on my tarpon hooks.  I had heard, I thought, a crimped barb could better enter the tarpon’s notoriously bony mouth.  So, when I got to Cuba and opened up the box of flies I had tied and the guide said “oh… no barb.  No good.” I wondered if I had gotten the whole thing wrong (as I sometimes do).

After I got back and stewed on it a while I decided to ask Dr. Adams from the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust.

Turns out, I wasn’t off the mark. I was spot on.

So… crimp those barbs if you feel like it and fish the patterns you tie and if the guide gives you stick, just put it on when he isn’t looking and have at ’em (and if that doesn’t work, quietly go with the fly the guide wanted).

Simple and Sexy. Barb or not.

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  1. Debarbing is the way to go. Have caught plenty of tarpon off Marathon with debarbed hooks. And when you make a mistake, especially in the wind, and stick yourself or your friend or your guide with a big fly, you’ll be real glad it’s debarbed!


  2. I agree, I de-barb at the vise on all my flies now. It also saves time when I am out fishing because I don’t have to fumble around for my pliers to do it on site. And bill is right they come out of me much easier with no barb. Ouch!

  3. Good for you, Bjorn. Glad to hear you followed it up… as we all should have known you would. Wouldn’t steer you wrong, mate, debarbed for tarpon is the way to go… at least, mostly debarbed. I use the Mustad Signature Tarpon hooks a lot and they have a tiny barb so I simply smash it, but not all the way flat. I do it at the vise (have a spring-loaded Regal) and it basically bend the barb over, leaving a little bump. So, the hook should penetrate easier than with a barb, but that little bump can (perhaps) help keep the hook in during those crazy head-rattling jumps. And, I’ll reiterate, all the tarpon I’ve taken have been on barbless hooks. Only had one ever come un-pinned during the fight and it turned out I’d opened the hook with too much pressure and the fish simply slipped off. On an open hook that was going to happen, barb or no barb.

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