Shop By Category


June 13, 2012
Author: Will Rice

Yet another reason why it makes sense to crimp your barb, brought to you by Trout's Fly Fishing:

When you find yourself at 9,530 ft, after a four mile hike, with a size 10 hook squarely penetrating your index finger, whether or not you crimped your barb suddenly becomes a really important question. 

When the answer to that question is “no, I forgot” you quickly realize why this small and relatively quick step is important.  First off, when you are fishing for smaller more delicate high alpine trout, the fish appreciate the ability to be quickly and gently released back to the water.  Sure, you might miss a few here or there, but in the big picture, you are keeping the fishery healthy and strong.  When you are the one hooked, much like the fish, you will appreciate the ability to quickly and painlessly remove the fly as well.  If you fish hard, it is not a matter of 'if' you are going to end up with a hook buried in your skin,  it is simply a matter of 'when.'  

Here is a 10 step ‘how-to’ for the next time you find yourself hooked at high elevation:


Step 1: inspect the situation and try to remove hook.


Step 2: when you realize there is no way the hook is coming out, think about your two options.  Option 1: find some duct tape and tape the fly down to your finger, continue fishing.  Option 2: if you do not have duct tape, consider sending the tip of the hook through the other side of your finger in effort to remove the barb.  You can always hike out and seek medical attention, but how much fun is that? 


Step 3: gracefully accept condolences and moral support from your fishing buddies.

Step 4: swallow hard and proceed with puncturing your finger by forcefully pushing the hook through the other side of your skin.

Step 5: take out your Letherman or some type of cutting/crimping tool and cut off the tip of the hook (or crimp the barb down with a pair of hemostats).



Step 7: extract the hook from your digit.


Step 8: change flies.  Crimp your barb this time.  


Step 9: continue to look for feeding fish on the surface.

Step 10: make the cast, hook the fish, release.  Repeat.  Stay safe.  Have fun.



#1. Posted by Dr. Acey on June 13, 2012

Hey guys…totally sound advice, though the “anesthesia” used is way sub-par. I always fish with a flask of whiskey…firstly because it “takes care of business” faster than beer and is lighter to carry, but secondly, because it can be used to sanitize cuts and hook impalements (especially if you have to create a second puncture with the “push through” technique above).

This link shows, much less humorously, ways to try to get the hook out without pushing through and clipping the hook:


#2. Posted by Nick on June 18, 2012

That’s the macho way to do it!

This would be better:

#3. Posted by sgrfmde452 on June 20, 2012

What should the supportive friend do if a Pabst isn’t available? Is some put on the wound to clean, and do I need to save some to clean after the extraction? How much laughing is appropriate? Should we try to hold back the tears during the laugh? What’s the P C support position?

#4. Posted by Erparf on June 20, 2012

Before you brace yourself for the trauma you propose, might you consider the string/yank removal technique, and never need to push the barb through the other side?

#5. Posted by David Holmes on June 20, 2012

As to removal by means of forcing the hook further through the skin or other tissues, the answer, from a medical standpoint, is that it’s usually NOT a good idea, although it may have some surface appeal for the self-described “macho,”  albeit medically unsophisticated, outdoorsman.

Pushing the hook through can be extremely painful, may drive bacteria deeper into the body, and possibly further traumatize the affected tissue, including damage to nerves and tendons, among other anatomical structures.

See the appropriate recommended procedures (with illustrations) in the American Academy of Family Physicians monograph at for alternative steps, including post-removal wound care.

#6. Posted by shogdog on June 20, 2012

Fool!  Push down on the skin under the hook shank and use a loop of mono to pull the hook out at the bend.  Never punch the barb through—that’s OLD SCHOOL!!!

#7. Posted by Ross aka the flytyinfreak Slayton on June 20, 2012

Barbed or not there is an easier way. This may sound crazy but it works! I ran into an identical situation fishing the upper Sacramento one year. I had pulled a fly out of my box and while trying to maintain my balance and debarb the fly I did the same thing, burying the barbed end in my finger before I could doctor it.  I went back to fish camp asking for some pliers and assistance. An old timer came up and showed me this method: When you push down on the fly, NOT PUSHING IT IN, only down, you make the hole bigger and it is on the barbed side of the wound, so the barb will slide out the bigger opening and not catch anything, like your flesh or skin. You need a compassionate buddy, who will loop some heavy mono around the bend in the hook. Your buddy presses down on the hook, and gives a good yank with the mono pulling the fly backwards out of your hand or other body part! Wahlah, no more hook, no more pain, no ripped flesh! AND you still have a fly to fish with.

Page 1 of 1 pages





Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments?

Enter this word:


Page 1 of 1