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Fly Fishing – Catch and Release Yourself

When fly fishing, many anglers prefer to catch and release their fly fishing prizes. Still, what should you do when you’re the prize?

That’s Gotta Hurt

If you become a fly fishing fanatic, you will inevitably hook yourself one day. Of course, this has never happened to me, but my “friends” have done it repeatedly. Being a thoughtful and observant person, I’ve seen how they go about unhooking themselves from a fly. Again, this is never happened to me. Ever. No, I won’t take a lie detector test.

The Barb

The best hook removal method depends on the location of the hook barb. The barb is the part of the hook that keeps the hook from simply sliding back out of the fish or, in this case, you. The essential question is which direction will result in the least damage from the barb.

A “friend” of mine once managed to hook himself through the flap of skin between the thumb and forefinger. The hook penetrated from the top of this hand through to the palm. The barb had gone all the way through the skin. In such a situation, the best method is simply to cut the line at the base of the hook and push it the rest of the way through the skin. This technique will result in a minimum of damage.

Another “friend” of mine once slipped on a rock and hooked himself something fierce in the meat section of the palm about an inch below the pinkie. There wasn’t anyway to push the hook through, so it had to be pulled back out the way it went in. The problem, of course, is the barb could have caused a lot of damage on the way back out. So, what’s the solution?

There are two solutions [excluding the hospital] to avoiding barb damage. The first requires two people. The hooked individual should press the hook slowly toward the curve of the hook. Put another way, you want to compress this curve of the hook. This sounds brutal, but actually should cause the barb to retract from the meat of your hand. The second person then applies pressure to both sides of the entry point to pull it open. The hooked individual should then GENTLY slide the hook out trying to follow the curve of the entry path. Sounds painful, but it works.

If you’re alone, follow the same instructions but you’ll have to do without the pressure. Just go slow and easy. If the hook doesn’t slide, don’t force it. Just head off to the local emergency room.


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