Lee Wulff, the St Hubertus of angling, taught us a good gamefish is too valuable to be caught only once. That was 75 years of global climate and habitat degradation ago. It is time to expand fly-fishing to embrace fishing without points, with hooks cut off at the bend or even further toward the eye. Conventional gear and bait anglers probably won’t consider this possibility but fly anglers, especially skilled ones, might very well.
Gamefish need fishermen as much as fishermen need gamefish. If we didn’t love pursuing salmon, trout, steelhead, tarpon, bonefish, et al, they wouldn’t have a large enough constituency to prevent their destruction through habitat loss and commercial slaughter. It is essential to the continued existence of gamefish that rods prize pursuing them. But as rods refine their skills, they might refine their philosophies as well.
Novice or intermediate rods needs the experience of hooking, fighting, landing and releasing gamefish. Without making mistakes and busting fish off, it is hard to know you are doing it incorrectly. But once you have honed your skills you need validation less often.
Perhaps it is no longer responsible to catch huge numbers of fish, even if they are released. If you have caught 1,000 salmon, 50,000 trout, acres of stripers… maybe it is time to consider snipping the points off your hooks and fishing for the grab and run, and setting an
example to those who aspire to your success. After all, if you can follow a hooked fish by foot or boat, modern tackle has made landing it much less uncertain than it was 50 years ago.
The cost/benefit analysis of fishing gamefish with a pointless hook is profoundly positively asymmetric. The self-assured rod can derive 50% to 90% of the benefit of the pleasure and validation from successfully presenting the fly and making the fish eat without inflicting even 1% of the cost of harming the fish. Even the best rods regularly inflict injury and do enormous damage to parr they do not intend to hook.
If you aren’t quite ready to give this a try, wait for the next trout-stressing, warm, low-water conditions when you know you really shouldn’t be fishing anyway. You might find you give up little and actually net more pleasure from pointless fishing.
David Lewis Goodman Ocean Reef, Florida