It's so happened that I've hooked and lost my best trouts - brown,rainbow, marble, while fighting the fish with inadequate rods. A #3 , 72g, 9', against a 70cm brown, a weak #6 against a 70cm rainbow in a very strong current and so on. In fact I haven't had that many problems with fish breaking the line, but mostly problems when fighting a bigger fish with a light weight rods. Yes, I know it is do-able and sometimes will work, but today I would rather always pick a stronger weight rod. It will handle the fish with more authority for less time and the fish will be released back in the water faster, less affected from a prolonged fight with a lighter rod. The same goes for the light tippets. I will pick the strongest diameter line reasonable to use for a situation /nymphs, streamer/and will go lighter only in certain very special occasions.
On my local trout waters the avarage fish are not big. With a lighter tippet you may often attract more strikes, because the fly will move more naturaly, unrestrained from a thicker tippet, but when you hook a rare, better fish you will be dreaming for a stronger rod/tippet combination. And the problem may aggravate when fishing with a barbless hook. For me, in the trout rivers I fish, a barbless hook will better work for biger fish with a stronger rod and tippet for the shortest fight, thus leaving less time and room for mistakes. I'm also planing to change my fancy wooden, short handle net with a one with a longer handle, to net the fish faster on big fish waters. I think that for any fish, faster landing is better and for the bigger fish faster is better especially with a barbless hook.
By faster I don't mean dragging the fish to the bank with some 1mm nylon, but finding a proper rod weight/tippet combination that will allow you to subdue the fish with less chances to loose it or to fight it for longer than needed. I know what I would use, but what would you use - a lighter tackle attracting more fish to take the fly, compromising eventual big fish fight or a stronger tackle, rod/tippet combination if there are any even rare chances for a bigger fish to be hooked?
De-barbing a small size hook is not a very good option for a bigger, stronger trout. It seems that de-barbing a hook is weakening it, so better use hooks originaly designed as barbless! A couple of days ago I was /fly/ fishing a local chalkstream - a spring creek as the Americans call it. On a secret spot a 45cm brown took my de-barbed size 12 fly, jumped above and than below some branches, and moments later was gone, leaving me with a broken hook. Not a very bad start for a low water conditions day, but the best catch of the day was lost, because of a weak small size de-barbed hook! The rest of the day was a rather mundane affair - a 24cm chub, 30cm rainbow and a 24cm perch!
PS I went today to try catch that brown, but the spot was taken from a rainbow trout that I hooked instead.
If one fish leaves a good spot, another fish takes it!