For those who think catch-and-release is the ultimate in responsible angling and for those who don't practice c&r for ethical reasons, consider Touch-and-Go angling as described by Ted Kerasote in the sentences below:
His voice becomes reflective. He's getting to the denouement, what really counts for him. "The reason I've stayed with catch and release is-it's not the fight. It's seeing the fish come up, sip the fly. Just to see that. It's pretty neat. Being in Yellowstone is being part of the ecosystem, watching the flies dimple the water, looking at the sky. I don't go to fight them. I go to join them."
If that's it-just wanting to be part of things as Williams and the rest of us have claimed-why not clip off the bend of the hook and simply cast the harmless fly?
John Betts, the renowned fly tier and angling scholar, not only thought of the question before I did, he thought of the answer. Disturbed by the small but inevitable percentage of trout injured while being released, Betts began to fish with flies from which the hook bends had been cut. Trout would rise to these hookless flies three, four, even half a dozen times. Damage to the fish was zero, but Betts was disappointed. "Missing was the adrenaline surge that came from the anticipation, take, and initial runs and jumps," he wrote in American Angler, a journal devoted to flyfishing and fly-tying.
Still needing some connection with the fish, albeit brief, Betts started to tie "tag" hooks, standing for "touch and go." They have a ringed eye at both ends. The business end can't penetrate the fish's mouth but will hold the fish long enough for the angler to feel it on the end of his or her line, see it jump, maybe even get a run or two out of it. "My need to touch whatever I've caught," Betts reflected, "originated in lessons learned millions of years ago for reasons other than sport. Touching is one of the last vestiges of our past and may now seem our only way to keep in contact with it. It also provides a sense of validity for ourselves at the moment and later, when we tell others about what we've done. My need to touch is now tempered by the realization that resources are limited and that what I touch is becomingly increasingly scarce."
—from "Catch and Deny," Heart of Home 2003 by Ted Kerasote