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Stan Fagerstrom

Stan Fagerstrom is a member of both the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame as well as the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame. Stan is also known internationally for his casting skills. Stan welcomes your e-mail comments at [email protected]

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September 30, 2014

They Come Without a Barb

by Stan Fagerstrom

The call surprised me.

When a question comes my way as a result of something I've written about fishing, it most often originates from someone just getting into the sport. This one wasn't.

"Stan," this familiar voice said, "why the devil don't some of those guys who produce all the fishing tackle start making some barbless treble hooks? I know they've they've been making barbless single hooks now for years. I've never heard of barbless trebles and now they're required in places where they've never been required before."

My caller was hollering before he was hurt. Those barbless trebles are available, all right, you just gotta know where to look. I hung my own fishing hat in the Pacific Northwest for a long time before moving to the warm weather country of Arizona years ago.

Hook into a monster salmon like this expert angler did and you'll want the best hooks you can get going for you. The angler is Dave Pitts, of California.

I didn't hear that much about barbless treble hooks back when I lived in either Washington or Oregon State more than 20 years ago. Like my caller said, barbless hooks are now required in many places that didn't require them years ago.

My friend was aware of the barbless regulation as it applied to single hooks. It was the trebles he was unsure about; but if you really stop to think about it, how much sense would it make for such a regulation to apply to only single hooks and then allow lures carrying one or more trebles used in the same water to still have barbs?

Anglers in both Washington and Oregon now are often required to use barbless hooks. One particular such area includes the broad Columbia River, where it divides the two states as well as some of the tributaries flowing into the big river.

The primary fish we are talking about here, of course, are salmon and steelhead. You may have read about certain of the record salmon runs anticipated in the Columbia this fall. If you are one of the many anglers planning on heading West to get in on some of the impending action, by all means, get yourself a current copy of the fishing regulations. Pay special attention to those that apply to the areas you'll be fishing. Get those regulations well in advance so you can study exactly what you can and can't do.

If you're one of the many salmon anglers who prefers to troll lures equipped with a treble hook or two, just what approach are you planning to take where this barbless treble hook business is concerned? You'll be wise to give this some thought.

Note the deep gap on this Gamakatsu barbless treble. More and more Pacific Northwest anglers are now using these fine hooks.

If the caller I told about had read one of my columns here earlier this year, he wouldn't have been asking the questions that he did. I'd written a column before that had dealt primarily with single barbless hooks, but also mentioned the barbless treble variety.

Any time I have a question on hooks, barbless or otherwise, the first people I turn to are the good folks at Gamakatsu Hooks. I was involved in the testing of Gamakatsu's super new hooks even before they were introduced to the American market. They've been right on the cutting edge of hook making ever since.

What I detailed in that earlier column was how the single barbless hooks Gamakatsu has had in its lineup for years aren't just more hooks with the usual pin-sharp points. That they are being made barbless is taken into consideration prior to their manufacture. They are made with a special design.

I outlined what Gamakatsu executives had to say about this design in my earlier column. They pointed out that the special bend of the hooks gives them a bigger "bite" when an angler sets the hook. Anglers all over the world have had excellent success with these single barbless hooks.

Fishermen headed for salmon fishing in the Pacific Northwest should be darn sure what the regulations are going to be in the areas they plan to fish. Barbless hooks are a requirement in some places.

What you need to know is that the Gamakatsu's barbless trebles are made exactly the same way. You'll have the same deep bend with its extra holding power available going for you — only now when you're using a lure equipped with one of the new barbless trebles, you'll have three of them working for you instead of just one.

I had another recent call that led to another discussion of barbless trebles. My caller this trip said barbless hooks were no problem for him. "I'll just bend down the barb on my present hooks," he said, "then I'll file them a bit if I have to and I'll be all set."
He can take that route if he chooses. I won't. Why ruin a perfectly good treble? There may be areas other than the Pacific Northwest where you may well want to use the lure involved with its hooks as they were when it came out of the box.

I'll do what I've already mentioned. I'll just remove the original treble, replace it with a Gamakatsu barbless treble and store the removed hook where I can do the reverse if I ever choose to.

Barbless hooks are also a requirement for steelhead fishing in the lower Columbia as well as designated tributaries.

I've heard rumbles that some of the fisheries agents checking where barbless hooks are required have been testing the hooks of some actual fishermen by running their hooks through fabric like that often used in pantyhose. These hooks almost always go through the fabric point first with no sweat.

The problems show up when you try to back them out. If there's anything left of that barb you thought you had carefully pinched down — beware! You could be in trouble.

To sum things up, don't sweat this business of finding barbless
treble hooks. If your favorite sporting goods store doesn't have them in stock, they can be ordered for you. It's my understanding Gamakatsu is currently making these hooks from size Number 8 to Number 1/0.

For that matter, if you continue to have difficulty of any kind give Gamakatsu's Tacoma, Washington headquarters a call yourself. I've already gotten the company's ok for you to do that. Just call (253) 922-8373 and ask for sales.

September 04, 2014

Which Rod Will Be Right? — Part 2

by Stan Fagerstrom

My companion didn't quite manage to turn a cloudy sky blue, but the cussing he was doing must have come pretty close.

Ever find yourself fishing in some far off part of the world and the rod and reel you're having to work with just won't get the job done? That's where my friend found himself on the morning he was doing such a thorough job of practicing his profanity.

If he'd been as good at listening as he was at cursing he wouldn't have been in such a foul mood. I'd done my best to convince him that a spinning outfit was likely to be his best bet when we finally got to where we were going. He wasn't having any part of it.

"Spinning isn't for me," he'd snorted when I had mentioned my own plans. "If I can't get fish with my bait casting gear, they just ain't there to be caught."

You won't find many who have done more talking about and demonstrating all kinds of reels than I have and not just in the United States. Here I'm pictured doing it at a show in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

I suppose few fishermen have spent more time with a level wind reel in their hands than I have over most of the past century. I managed to make a living demonstrating and talking about them around the United States---and often in foreign lands---for a long, long time. And all that demonstration time was in addition to countless hours of actually fishing. Nobody loves a level wind reel and a casting rod more than I do.

That said, let me add something else. It's simply this: If you're stuck sometime with taking just one outfit along on a trip where you're not certain what kind of fishing you'll be doing, then a spinning outfit might very likely be your best bet.

I've had this brought home to me again and again over more than a half century of fishing and writing about it. One thing I touched on in my last column was fishing in the Amazon.

I've had the good fortune to make three fishing trips into that fascinating part of the world. The last time, a time when I knew I would be fishing for nothing but those wild-eyed peacock bass, I carried only a pair of my favorite G. Loomis casting rods and level wind reels loaded with lines strong enough to handle them.

The two previous trips into the jungle years ago I also wound up using my spinning outfit a good bit. The piranha down there in that beautiful but potentially dangerous country remind me of a bluegill with dentures---sharp dentures. They often grabbed the same light lures I like to use hereabouts for panfish. I sometimes didn't get them in the boat because their razor-edged teeth sliced my line like a sharp pair of scissors.

The right spinning outfit, properly handled, will get its share of good sized bass. It got this one for me.

If you're interested in specifics, the spinning rods I pack most often are the G.Loomis SJR700, SJR 721 or SJR 722. If you're interested in taking the same route you can check the details on these rods in a G.Loomis rod catalog or at the G.Loomis web site. There's a wealth of solid information on these rods in the company's catalogs or web site and you'll do well to study it carefully. The same can likely be said for the other top quality rod makers.

Did I hear someone say the SJR 700 is too light for most freshwater fishing? Well, I've caught largemouth bass to 7-pounds on that wonderful little stick. Admittedly, the fish dictate what happens for awhile, especially if you hook a good one in heavy cover on that lightweight rod. Be assured I was very busy for awhile with that beautiful 7-pounder. That fish went where it wanted until it finally pooped out.

You step up in rod strength with the SJR 722. It didn't surprise me when I checked several years ago that the SJR 722 was the most popular spinning rod for warm water angling that G. Loomis marketed. Things may have changed but I doubt it. I used a casting version of that powerful stick to boat a 10-pound, 4-ounce largemouth once at Mexico's famed Lake El Salto.

Look at the teeth on this Amazon piranha. Those teeth will snip a line or remove a chunk of your own hide if given the opportunity.

I recall trips I made for sea run cutthroat on Washington State's lower Cowlitz River when I lived in that part of the world. I often went out with one of the most knowledgeable cutthroat anglers from that part of Southwest Washington. We cast small spinners up under the willows along the river's shoreline. The outfit I used on those trips was an open-faced reel and the G. Loomis SJR700.

I caught my share of cutthroat with that outfit on the Cowlitz. I had similar success with it on those New Zealand adventures I mentioned in my previous column as well as elsewhere. In New Zealand I used that same rod with 4 or 6-pound line on my open-faced spinning reel. It was a great outfit for getting the distance required with the lightweight lures we used. I'll never forget the beautiful 7-pound rainbow that grabbed a little curly tailed grub I pitched up under a waterfall on the North Island.

Nothing beats having tackle that lets you handle the problems you're up against. Having the right outfit was what enabled me to slide this nice steelhead up on the shore of a Pacific Northwest river.

I've used monofilament line heavier than 10-pounds on a spinning outfit, but I always do so reluctantly. The lighter the line, the more enjoyment you'll get out of spinning tackle. For years now, however, there's been a way around that problem. I've also done lots of fishing using braided line on my spinning reels since the great new quality braids came to market.

My favorite of the different braids I've tried is Shimano's Power Pro. Even in tests up to 20-pounds this braid is small enough in diameter to handle well on an open-faced reel. A note of caution is in order where these braided lines are concerned. Remember just how strong Power Pro is despite its small diameter.
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