June 25th, 2001

Broken Hooks And Shattered Dreams
By James Castwell


When is the last time you broke a hook on a trout? Right, you can't for sure remember. Right that is, if you have been at this game a while. Sure, some hooks may break for all sorts of reasons, but I mean the ones you get back after a hit and find the point busted off right behind the barb. The other one I will mention is the one that is bent 'open.' That is, kind of straightened out.

You and I don't worry much, if at all, about these things because they just don't happen to us any more. Why not? Well, we have learned a few things over the years. Trust me, Both of these problems happen often to those new to our game.

First off, the one with no tip or barb. Mostly we use barbless hooks, or at least pinch down the barb. What does that do? A whole bunch of things. The hook goes in 'all the way.' The barb doesn't keep the hook from penetrating the fish. The fish is held in the 'bend' of the hook. The barb is only to keep the worm on anyhow. When the barb holds back penetration, only the point of the hook sticks and the pull on the leader changes angle, opening the hook or breaking the hook right at the place where the barb started. Then the hook breaks right there.

When some get into this sport they do several things, and learn later not to do them. They buy cheap flies with barbs, and they leave them on. They use leaders just slightly less diameter than a hawser. They strike a fish and attempt to launch it airborne. Most hooks are broken on the back-cast on some object, or hooked in front and pulled back and not checked. After a few years we learn that these things are poor practice. Our casting mostly keeps our back-cast out of trees etc, and when we hook a snag out in front of us, we check the hook before we cast again. Simple stuff, but needs to be learned.

I once fished for what I think was a few hours, getting all kinds of hits and hooking not one darn trout. For some reason I checked my fly and found the point missing. Duh! That was a painful lesson, but one which I did not forget. Some will read this and go do it anyway. But someday they too will be better at casting, buy better flies and hooks, pinch down barbs and check their hooks often, very often. Especially when it happens again and they remember reading about it on here. But heck, isn't that what this is all about, learning? Sure it is, and a lot of fun doing so. ~ James Castwell

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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