A big cicada fly prompted me to become an advocate for barbless hooks. It was a great fly, tied by a friend and proven effective over and over on a host of different waters.
Like many of us, I was conscious of the importance of pinching down the barb on my flies to make releasing the fish easier and less stressful on everyone involved. I just never managed to do that on that particular fly. And then I buried it deep in my thumb. I tried to get it out myself. I asked my fishing buddy — a college shot putter — to pull as hard as he could. No deal. Off to the emergency room where the doctor showed me the simple trick of removing it with a piece of 1X tippet and chided me for not pinching the barb in the first place. Thanks, Doc…
At about the same time but thousands of miles away in England, my friend Richard Fieldhouse had a related experience. While rigging up to fish a small river in Wiltshire in late 2010, Richard prepared to de-barb his fly only to find that the forceps he typically used to pinch the barb were missing. Being significantly smarter than yours truly, he realized that buying ready-made barbless flies could be a thing. But being human, he promptly forgot about it. Then it happened again in 2012. In his words, “I decided that if other retailers were not going to address the market, then I would have a go at doing it myself and Barbless Flies was formed.”
Barbless Flies is one of a handful of international TU Business members. They’re located in North Yorkshire, but a substantial percentage of his sales come from fly anglers here in the U.S. I suspect that’s not only about the convenience of buying flies already de-barbed, but also about his passion for quality.
Richard says, “We aim to bring to the market a wide range of barbless flies, all professionally tied to extremely high standards using first-class materials and constant innovation. Any retailer stands or falls by the quality of its customer service. Therefore, we aim to meet, and where possible, exceed your expectations.”
Barbless Flies offers free shipping anywhere in the world, no matter the size of your order.
We’re grateful to Richard and Barbless Flies for their support for Trout Unlimited. We’re especially grateful for their commitment to conservation and minimal packaging. Check them out.