Autumn On The EB

Autumn On The EB

Sunday, April 3, 2016

A Farmington Friday And A Word About Jig Hooks

"Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought"Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

I couldn't wait to get there. The temperature was already above 60 at 7:00 am and I began to day dream about hendricksons on the ride down. This would not be a day of dredging the bottom over and over but the chance to fish the hatching insect. If the rain holds off it could be a banner day on the Farmington.

Now the first thing that I noticed was that the Church Pool had only ONE angler at 7:30. This would be my last stop later in the day. I was heading to the Spare Tire Pool to get back at those two browns that made me look silly last November. When I got there I had the place to myself and a look upstream showed ONE angler at Greenwoods!! The best trout river in New England and it's empty on a beautiful Spring day.

I fished a hendrickson nymph with a size 20 Pheasant tail as the dropper. I took browns on both flies and had a ball. The only drawback was the lack of rising fish and not a hendrickson to be seen.

I worked that pool from top to bottom and then took a walk down to Central Riffle. The shoreline was packed with caddis flies so off goes the PT and on goes a grey bodied soft hackle which gets slammed by a good rainbow in short order.

After 5 hours it was time for a lunch break and then pay a visit to the Church Pool. Now there were 5 people fishing and for the 2 hours I was there I saw only one trout taken. Winter caddis were everywhere and I had tied some up for the occasion. A strong wind picked up which made casting and seeing a size 22 a real chore. Here is where the trout got back at me. I had 3 rises and missed them all.

Get to know this river! Stop in at Up Country Fly Shop and buy the "Guide to Fishing the Farmington River". It's a good inventment.

Jig Hooks are becoming all the rage lately. One of the "benefits" of this hook style is that the hook rides up and hooking will almost always be in the roof of the mouth. But according to the late Robert Behnke, once considered to be the worlds foremost expert on trout and salmon, the greatest cause of hooking mortality in trout are 1. ruptured gills and 2. HOOKING IN THE ROOF OF THE MOUTH. This is where the carotid artery is. Nick this vessel and you will have a dead trout. It may look good upon release but it's going to die.

I experimented with jig hooks back in the late 1990's for dredging the Millers in high water conditions. I didn't really like that style as it seemed to be a form of fly fishing hardware. My trout were hooked in the roof of the mouth. Then I read Behnke and gave up that nonsense. In fact, I can't recall the last time a hooked a trout in the roof of its' mouth with a standard hook.



Anonymous said...

I read Behnke's book, About Trout, the concern seemed to be as I remember about all barbless hooks because of there penetration power on smaller trout. J hooks or jig hooks both give risk of injuring trout the later though, its said does hook the upper mouth 80% of the time but a swallowed a j hook can cause damaged gills. I recall in that book it also stated treble hooks caused the least mortality, go figure.

Millers River Flyfisher said...


Behnke's book is a gem and he does speak of the deep penetration of barbless hooks causing injury.


Jonathan Everett said...

Hey Ken,

Fished the Farmington for the first time ever on Friday. I came away pretty impressed with all the river brings to the table. Started late because I wanted to go to the fly shop for some basic info and a license. They were very helpful and cut down on the learning curve a bit. Weather was perfect most of the day. Saw some other fisherman around for sure but I wouldn't call it crowded.

Nymphed the Morgan Brook pool by myself for about two hours in the middle of the day. Tons of winter caddis and a few stones around. Couldn't believe I came up empty in that section.

Lost a couple of very nice fish in the Chair pool in the afternoon. Did see a guy take 2 or 3 there in a few minutes.

All in all, only landed 1 brookie on a bugger but it was a beautiful fish. Had a great day and I will be back for some more exploration.

Thanks for the blog and tight lines.

Jon from Oxford

Anonymous said...

So barbless hooks are potentially worse? Never would have thought that. I still don't like barbed hooks since it takes me longer to get them off. I guess I will have to reevaluate.

marc tareila said...

From my experience on the Farmington, the first week of May is ideal for hendricksons.


fischmeister57 said...


I'm with you in regard to jig hooks. Matter of fact, when I lived in Europe, on all the fly-fishing-only waters I fished in Germany and Austria, jigs were forbidden!


Millers River Flyfisher said...


Thank you for this comment. The "competition" guys seem to like this destructive method. Fish "caught" are the key. Trout survival after release....Maybe.

Get a ketchem release tool. Very quick and safe.


Millers River Flyfisher said...


I had word that hendricksons were popping up downstream around Unionville and that there were rumors of sightings upstream. I was "chasing the wild goose" on that day and now with this snow, guessed it.


David Burke said...


Saw this quote on the internet.............thought you might be in need of some material.


"When a fish is caught on bait, I feel bad for it being so gullible, unable to resist - often gut-hooked. When a fish is caught on a lure, I sometimes feel it's been abused especially if there are barbed galvanized treble hooks or umbrella rigs involved. But when I catch a big, smart striper (or a native steelhead, or a double-digit bonefish, or a remote lagoon tarpon, or....) on a self-tied fly, I feel that neither of us have any shame when we look eye to eye." -Juro

Gerry said...

Granted, Behnke has been highly regarded forever, but when I read his articles in the TU mag about barbless and treble hooks, I seriously began to question his sanity. In waters where treble hooks are allowed I have seen many of the fish injured by treble hooks caught in their eye. Also, I remember trout swimming around in catch and release waters missing lips, etc, due to barbed hooks being ripped out by careless anglers. So, IMHO barbless hooks size 10 and smaller are much better for fish than barbed hooks of the same size. MAYBE larger barbless J-hooks cause more harm than barbed hooks, but I doubt it. BTW, having removed MANY hooks from myself, friends, clients and fish, I can say with 100% certainty that every single human and almost all the fish preferred having been hooked with a barbless hook :-)
Gerry (back from Florida with a quickly fading tan)

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Thank you for commenting. Your views are welcome.
If you "question his sanity" you should also begin to question the scientific studies that Behnke mentions. These are studies that have been sighted about single barbless hooks, single barbed hooks, treble hooks and whatever. There is no scientific evidence that there is a measurable difference between hook design and trout mortality. The studies are there and will not be changed by opinion. In over 40 years I've never had to extract a hook from myself. When does that actually happen?

Hooking mortality is a BAIT situation.


David Burke,

Well said!!!!


Millers River Flyfisher said...

One added comment,

Jig hooks can cause more trout mortality than J hooks, period.