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Barbless Circle Hooks

You can catch fish and avoid harmful interactions with protected species.


What is a Barbless Circle Hook? 


It’s the hook’s basic design that makes it effective—not the barb.

A barbless circle hook is a regular circle hook with a flattened barb. Barbless circle hooks can minimize fishing’s impact on our nearshore resources and protected species. Our research has shown that barbless circle hooks work just as well as barbed hooks. Because barbless circle hooks are easier to remove, or self-shed, they minimize impacts on protected species and fish that are released.


How to Make a Barbless Circle Hook

Use a small hand crimper (for Mustad 16/0 and smaller hooks) or large bench crimper (for Mustad 18/0 and larger hooks) to flatten a circle hook's barb. A pair of parallel-jawed pliers can also be used in place of a hand crimper to flatten the barb on smaller hooks.

Hand crimper on left and bench crimper on right

You can use a hand crimper for small hooks (left) and a bench crimper for large hooks (right).

Why Use Barbless Circle Hooks? 

10th annual Tokunaga Ulua Challenge


It’s better for the fish. It’s easier to quickly release unwanted catch without causing damage to the fish, which means more healthy fish for you to catch in the future.


It’s better for you. Minimize injury to yourself and others, as well as damage to your clothes and gear.


It’s better for our protected species. If an animal is accidentally hooked or entangled, barbless circle hooks release quicker or self-shed, reducing trauma and letting the animal return to normal activities.



Report hooked, stranded, or entangled marine animals to NOAA at: 888-256-9840

For more information: State of Hawaii's Division of Aquatic Resources Fishing Around Protected Species.

To get FREE Barbless Circle Hooks, contact the State's Marine Wildlife Program at 808-295-6483 or by email.

Last updated by Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center on July 17, 2019