*Treble Hook sizing varies between manufacturers. This chart is basic reference.
Given that barbless hooks are quicker and easier to remove, they reduce unhooking injuries and tissue damage (to both fish and anglers!). They can also decrease fish handling time out of water, which increases fish survivability during catch and release. However numerous studies have shown that barbless hooks (compared to barbed hooks) do not significantly reduce hooking mortality on their own.
Fish mortality correlates to hooking damage and is mostly related to hook location, hook size and amount of bleeding, with smaller hooks going deeper and causing more bleeding and mortality. The solution is to use appropriately sized hooks, usually larger ones. However, larger barbed hooks cause more tissue damage, going in and coming out. Decreased fish mortality, especially of breeders, is good for the population as a whole, but for individual fish, tissue damage is accompanied by noxious sensations that some equate to pain. The answer then is to strike the right balance between minimizing potential pain and increasing survivability by using appropriately sized single barbless hooks that reduce both tissue damage and bleeding.
Although not as popular in freshwater fishing, circle hooks can minimize deep hooking in potentially lethal regions and instead hook most fish in the edge of the mouth, upper jaw, or corner of the mouth. Unfortunately, circle hooks can cause eye damage in certain species of fish (i.e. bluegill). Another alternative is to use barbless offset hooks, like "pinched down" Tru-Turn hooks (ttiblakemore.com) .
"Give fish a fighting chance: use single barbless hooks!"
Most artificial lures on the market today come equipped with barbed treble hooks, with up to nine distinct points on larger crankbaits. More points likely increase hooking success, however the hazard to fish and anglers also increases. Since most anglers who fish barbless either file off or pinch down the barbs on hooks, hook manufacturers in general have not rushed to make barbless hooks, despite the fact that a number of Canadian provinces including Manitoba and Saskatchewan only allow barbless fishing. Companies like Gamakatsu and Eagle Claw make barbless hooks.
A few lure manufacturers, including Rapala, make lures with single hooks. Rapala Australia makes a single-hook deep diving X rap series (rapala.com). All you do is file off or pinch down the barbs! Lures dive to 15, 20 and 30 feet. Advantages of single hooks include increased hooking due to a larger hook gape, less leverage on tackle exerted from the fish while fighting, and above all increased fish and angler welfare and safety! You can order these on-line from Australian retailers.
For those who want to be more precise, Owner Single Replacement Hooks come in a number of sizes and show the weight of the single hook directly on the package. Weighing the treble hook you want to replace on an accurate scale makes the switching out that much easier. VMC also makes a number of in-line hooks to replace treble hooks.
As mentioned , it's not that difficult changing out treble hooks for single hooks. In fact it all depends on the weight of the hook. This link will bring you to a spreadsheet that has a list of common lures, the weight of the actual treble hook on the lure, and the brand (Owner XXX or X, and VMC) and size of the replacement single hook. The spreadsheet will be updated regularly.
Replacing treble hooks with single barbless hooks is an ethical way to fish, and besides, it gives anglers a reason to spend more time on the water "testing" and adjusting their new hook configurations.
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Arlinghaus, R., Klefoth, T., Kobler, A., & Cooke, S. J. (2008). Size selectivity, injury, handling time, and determinants of initial hooking mortality in recreational angling for northern pike: the influence of type and size of bait. North American Journal of Fisheries Management, 28(1), 123-134.
Rapala Floating Magnum 18 with 7/0 Owner Single Replacement hooks (pinched down barbs)
Rapala is a leader in single hook lure manufacturing. Its Blue Fox brand of spinners and spoons come with an optional single Siwash hook that can replace the traditional treble hook. Remove the barb and you're in business. Rebel also makes a limited series of barbless lures (rebellures.com).
Sixpack Tackle , an american company in North Carolina, makes a number of original lures with single hooks.
Anglers don't have to wait for other manufacturers to join the parade. They can replace treble hooks on their favorite lure with single barbless hooks. Although it may not always seem to be a straightforward proposition due to issues related to "messing with the balance of a finely tuned lure", it's actually quite simple.
Rapala through its VMC brand (rapala.com/vmc/hooks) and Owner (ownerhooks.com) are two companies that make single hooks to replace treble hooks,although they are not barbless (yet!). Rapala will send you on request a list of tested replacement parts (Siwash hooks, bead chains, etc) that you can use to replace treble hooks on some of their popular lures. Owner has a basic reference chart (see below) that can help you replace your treble hooks.
"Put the sport back in sportfishing: use single barbless hooks!"