Are barbed or barbless hooks better for penetrating? Could the hook’s barb actually be impeding the hook’s ability to set itself?
It’s a thought that we asked Gardner-backed David Gaskin to ponder…
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In short, no, I don’t think barbs on hooks prevent them from initially penetrating far enough to undermine any rig’s effectiveness.
The main thing that prevents hooks from penetrating in the way we would like them to is how sharp they are.
The sooner the hook grips the flesh within the fish’s mouth, the more chance the hook will penetrate and create a secure hookhold.
A blunt hook has the tendency to slide along the flesh, rather than catch hold securely, and is unable to withstand a jerk or two from a headshake once the carp susses out what is going on.
The all-important initial prick of the hook allows it to stay in the flesh until the weight or resistance from the rest of the rig (or a good old-fashioned strike of the rod) pulls the hook right into position, resulting in a fish taking flight and battle commencing.
In the first phase, the hook will not normally penetrate past the barb (if there is one).
For example, on a chod rig set up, the hook catches hold and then the weight and tension of the leader combined with the angler’s response to a bite drives the hook into the flesh past where a barb would be.
In a bolt rig set-up it would be the same again, although the lead weight will act as the driving force, fully embedding the hook past the barb.