The D-Barb Tool
For many catch and release anglers, the joy of hooking, fighting, and landing a smallmouth can be ruined, when they see that their hook has been swallowed by the bass. Hooks that are taken past the gullet can be fatal. If the fish does not die of blood loss in the immediate future, the blockage can impede the ability to swallow food.
There have been many debates on how to handle this situation. Some anglers choose to mash the barb down to the shank, so that the hook can easily pass backwards through the hole that the hook made. Some anglers say that it is best to leave it in instead of risking tissue damage to the fish. I have personally killed a citation smallmouth by trying to remove a deeply embedded tube jighead. I am distraught to this day that I killed that fish.
A recent experience with a different citation smallmouth lessened my sorrow over killing the initial smallmouth. After landing my largest smallmouth to date (a 22.5 incher), I looked inside to see that the hook had gathered some flesh at the very back of the gullet. I immediately hopped out of my kayak and located a tool that I had received in the mail a few days earlier.
The D-Barb tool was able to reach to the back of the throat, and easily clip the hook in two. The tool even has magnets to hold onto the smaller portion of the clipped hook. The fish was photographed and released tired, but not bleeding or dying.
The tool can be ordered by contacting the company on eBay at Boomers Marketplace or email email@example.com. I have spent a great deal of money on tools that either can't easily reach the hook, or require too much hand strength to be effective. This tool cuts a hook with the same amount of pressure needed to trim your fingernails. One major difference between the previous tools and the D-Barb tool is that the cutting surface is not part of the handle. Two replaceable blades make the cutting effortless. I spent less than $30 for the tool, delivery, and a set of replacement blades.
Even though the handle is stainless steel, I recommend coating it with some sort of machine oil, and keeping it in a waterproof container. I purchased a separate dry bag for the tool. I have clipped it to an easy to reach location on my kayak. So far I have only saved one smallmouth with the tool. I know where she still swims.