Fly fishing is considered one of the safest sports around, yet I was recently reminded that it too is not without hazards. On my last trip out, this time on the Blue River tailwater down from Dillon Dam, I threw a cast that got caught by a sudden gust of wind, and very effectively hooked the jacket on my forearm.
I was lucky it was just my jacket, but this reminded me that it was time to review what I should do to remove a hook that ends up in my body. Stories I have heard in Minturn Angler’s shops tell of hooks embedded in hands, the neck, and even the cheek. Just ask any hospital emergency room nurse about the increase in visits from fly fishermen as the hatch progresses in the spring.
It’s relatively easy and painless to remove a hook that is embedded past the barb but not back out through the skin.
- First, make a six inch loop with strong line, ten pound or more; pass it over the hook eye and over the top of the hook bend
- Push down on the eye of the hook so that it touches the skin
- Give a strong yank on the looped line, pulling it up and away from the eye of the hook; this allows the hook to be removed the way it went in without catching
If the hook has gone in and out again through the skin, crush down or cut off the barb, and then pull it the barb the same way it went in.
Acting quickly is often the key to a pain-free hook removal. The sooner you can remove the hook after it has become embedded, the better. Cleaning and applying antiseptic to the area is a good idea, and you might want to check the date of your last tetanus shot.
While I do not intend to practice the hook removal process just to make sure it works for me, I will review hook removal steps before I head out to fly fishing waters!