Fulling Mill Grab Gape Barbless Hooks
There are a lot of anglers out there who are sskeptical about using barbless or de-barbed hooks for their fly fishing, the thought of using a fly with no barb and hooking the fish of a lifetime is a much talked about subject and does turn anglers away from using a barbless hook. Lucky fo those, Fulling Mill have produced a comprehensive range of hooks that will not only give you more confidence in using a fully barbless hook, but come at a great price too.
Recently I’ve been out fishing with the Grab Gape Barbless series from the Fulling Mill range, putting them into practice when fishing Catch and Release events and my fishing in general. I feel there’s no better way to test a product than to get out there on the water and use it.
Llandegfedd League Match – 10/05/2015
Throughout the year there’s a competition called the Llandegfedd/Chew league match, where teams or clubs from England and Wales enter a team of four anglers to fish three competitions on Llandegfedd and three on Chew Valley Reservoir. The competition is strictly Catch and Release with your 4th fishes time recorded for a tie breaker. As a rule, Llandegfedd ask us to use barbless or de-barbed hooks throughout – Personally I don’t mind crushing the barb of a barbed hook, but thought this would be a great time to test out the FM Barbless Grab Gape Hooks and tie a selection of flies especially for this cause.
The day was tough the wind was high and the sun was bright, less from ideal fishing conditions to say the least. I started off using a Coral Fab on the point with two diawl bachs up the cast on a sink tip fly line. Due to the bright conditions I scaled down my tippet, a 20ft length of 6lb Fulling Mill World Class Fluorocarbon – hopefully this wouldn’t give off to much flash as I was intending to fish my flies fairly close to the surface.
Within a couple of casts of starting I locked into a fish on the coral blob, the fish was very acrobatic but very obliging when close to the net and my first fish of the day was recorded.
Throughout the day I managed to land another three fish, giving me a total of four – to take 11th place individually. With such tough conditions, every fish hooked would need to be treated as if it were a bar of gold, as just one fish would make a massive difference with the points system it’s fished to. Out of five fish I hooked, I lost just just one – A great ratio and a good performance from the FM Grab Gape Hooks.
The league match is fished to a points system, so my 11th place would give me 11 points towards our team performance. On this particular day we accumulated a total of 78 points as a team and are currently sitting in 2nd position, one point from top! More information here.
Cwm Hedd Memoral Match – 16/05/2015
I fished the Gwyn Williams memorial match at Cwm Hedd Lakes in Newport – A charity event set up to help ‘Help the Heroes’ – Of which the event raised a total of £1032.40 for the cause.
Again, the competition was fished to full board barbless or de-barbed hooks giving another great opportunity to try out the grab gapes. As I turned up to my peg there were a couple of fish rising steadily a few yards from the bank, so decided to set up with a single dry fly. My leader material consisted of a three step taper, 10lb, 7lb and 4lb Xtra Co-polymer.
Conditions were bright and I was sceptical to the effectiveness of the dry flies, but as the bell went to start the competition, I cast out near the rising fish and instantly hooked one, running me into the weed and snapping me off… A bit of bad angling on my part as to be perfectly honest I was quite slow on the strike. After re-tying my leader I patiently waited for another fish to show, roughly 10 minutes later a fish blindly took my size 16 shuttlecock buzzer, the rod arched over and it was clear this was something special. I held on as the fish dove for the bottom, keeping my line as tight as I dared on the light tippet. After a 10 minute fight this 8lb 14oz rainbow graced the net.
Over the next three hours I caught another two fish and lost one more, all on the same dry fly. I was extremely impressed with the tolerance of the Grab Gape hooks against such large fish – After the day had finished the same hook was intact and completely fishable.
Grafham Water – Lexus Team Qualifier 18/05/2015
Grafham Water was the setting for the Midlands team qualifying event for the Lexus Fly Fishing Championship to be held mid-August at Chew Valley and Grafham Water, of which, Fulling Mill are now co-sponsors of the event.
The conditions were horrendous, high winds and torrential rain for much of the day, but a well fought competition by all anglers. A total of 604 fish were caught by 78 rods with the top 6 teams qualifying for the final.
The competition is fished to a 4 fish kill limit and a further 10 fish catch and release limit with de-barbed or barbless hooks. I’d started on a Di 7 sinking line with three flies. A coral booby and a cats whisker booby, with a nymph in between – our team plan was to get our flies as deep as possible, counting to 20 to hopefully reach a depth of 10-15ft in such a high wind.
By dinner time I had landed my 4 fish and lost a further 3! After four fish I needed to switch to de-barbed or barbless hooks. I swapped the cat’s whisker booby for a barbless version tied on the grab gapes, and the nymph on the middle dropper for the same. My top dropper had to be de-barbed with a pliers as I hadn’t tied anything similar on the barbless hooks.
At the end of the match I finished with 13 fish, releasing 9 on the barbless hooks – Loosing just two other fish when swapping to the barbless range!
Congratulations to Mike Haycock on taking top rod of the day, Mike received a £100 Fulling Mill Voucher and Team Elinor on a blinding team performance!
Overall I had been fully impressed with the Fulling Mill Grab Gape Barbless hook series and have no hesitation to use one whether it’s a fishing competition or a pleasure day. Barbless hooks tend to be more ‘fish friendly’ when practicing catch and release. Here are 4 tips to getting the best out of using barbless hooks:
4 Tips to using barbless hooks effectively
- Always keep your line as tight as possible – the more slack in you line the more chance you have of the hook falling out of the fishes mouth.
- Don’t cast too far – for the same reasons as above. If the fish jumps you will have lots of slack, with a chance of the hook just falling out.
- Use a size smaller than usual if possible – Smaller hooks are harder to ‘throw’ when hooked into a fish, the angle of the smaller, tighter angler of the hook shank tends to keep the flies more securely placed.
- Try to play the fish harder – this will ensure your hook hold is somewhat more secure. What I tend to think is the less time the fish is on the hook, the less chance there is of it coming off.
Get your Fulling Mill Grab Gape Hooks from your local FM dealer today!