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1st Stage: Conwy 18th & 19th May, £2000 1st place privateers prize

The importance of crushed barbs on large circle hooks

crushed barb circle hooks fishing large fish sharks

A small rule for the BoatLife Fishing Championship and Privateer’s cup, that the observant will notice, is that circle hooks over a 6/0 must have the barb crushed. 

Whilst the use of such large hooks may be limited, a number of the BoatLife Fishing events do open up the opportunity to target some larger species of shark. Best practice amongst all shark anglers these days is to use circle hooks, and it is a fairly common practice to crush the barb too. 

We appreciate that in a competition environment, common measures from recreational angling don’t always automatically get carried across, for fear of losing key fish, hence why we have introduced this rule. If boats are found with rigged up circles exceeding 6/0 and without a suitably crushed barb, penalties will be issued, including potential disqualification. 

Why is crushing the barb so important?

Many anglers will tell you that hook up success increases with a barbless or crushed barb hook for larger species, as penetration of the hook point is less inhibited by the barb, ensuring that the fish sits against the gape rather than the point. When a fish doesn’t sit against the gape, the hook is more prone to either coming dislodged, or simply because the point offers a point of leverage the hook can bend out or snap subject to the qualities of the material used in the particular hook. 

Once a good hook set is achieved, no fish should come off from a barbless or crushed barb hook if a tight line is maintained. A barb only ever comes into play in slack line situations, although some do theorise that a barb limits the amount of movement of a hook during the fight, arguably leaving a smaller hook hole in the fish, a theory that needs to account for the unhooking stage though. 

This is where the welfare really comes into play. Larger sharks, in particular, will more often than not be released boat side, with access to the hook achieved through some sort of long disgorger or T-bar. A circle hook should have achieved a lip hook, and a barbless hook will simple slide out by slackening the line. A hook with the barb still present will tear on the way out, with no ability to manage this more carefully as one can do at closer quarters with a smaller fish onboard the boat. 

BoatLife fishing recommends circle hooks like the Cox and Rawle Must Circle Extra, that has a barb that sits perfectly flush when crushed, and is an excellent strong hook that won’t risk wider damage through the process of crushing.  This is a heavy wire circle hook with an extremely strong and sharp “nail-hanger” point and forged bend. The hook is virtually indestructible and is suitable for any big predators, anywhere. With an in-line non-offset hook point at 90 degrees to the shank, the hook is IGFA catch and release compliant and tournament legal, perfect for the BoatLife Fishing Championship and Privateers Cup.

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1st Stage: Conwy 18th & 19th May, £2000 1st place privateers prize