Fishing Pliers & Hook Removers
Fly flingers usually hook fish in the lip or just inside the mouth and seldom have to work hard to remove their flies…especially with barbless hooks. A favorite hook removal tool of the “pocket lint” crowd is a pair of hemostats. Those surgical grippers are good for other anglers too especially when fishing with small jigs or when using small hooks with bait. Aggressive fish sometimes gulp bait or lures deeply. Hooks embedded beyond sight or easy reach are tough to disengage with pliers. If you want to retrieve the hook rather than cutting the line you need a “disgorger”. These are usually simple plastic devices that work by sliding down the line and getting inside the hook bend. Then, a quick push and you have the hook attached to the end of the disgorger, rather than in the fish. Actually, there are a multitude of different hook remover designs. Some are intended more for quick removal of circle hooks from the corners of a fish’s mouth. Others are designed to reach down inside the gullet to engage and remove the hook. Most of these things will fit almost anywhere
you want to keep them for quick access.
A good policy is that whenever you plan to release a deeply hooked fish it is better to cut the line outside the mouth and let the fish swim away with the hook rather than risk serious internal injuries to the fish by wresting the hook out and. That is less traumatic for the fish and most fish are able to dissolve or “pass” hooks over time.
All anglers should carry at least one set of long nosed pliers. They might also want to carry different types of specialized pliers…channel locks, side cutters, vice grips, etc. depending upon the type of fishing they do and what kinds of line, lures or baits they use. An onboard tool rack for your tube or toon should definitely include at least one pair of long nosed pliers. This rack also holds a pair of heavy side cutters (for catfish spines), lip grippers and a fillet knife.
For many tubers and tubers, a simple pair of long nosed pliers will suffice for a wide range of duties. The primary use is for removing hooks from fish…or from clothing, nets, craft covers or even anatomy. Most long nose pliers include an area at the rear for cutting wire or line. The cutting part may also come in handy for snipping off the barb of a fly or lure that needs to be removed from fabric or flesh.
It is amazing how many chores this ubiquitous tool is asked to perform by the average angler over the amount of time it remains in their equipment arsenal. A good pair of long nose pliers performs all kinds of tasks…until lost overboard or “accommodated” by a fishing buddy. In recent years there has been a flood of new “multi-tools” on the market. These are pliers, with multiple blades and tools attached. They are more like Swiss army knives than simple pliers. If you can score a pair of these to keep on your craft you will have a complete tool set. Some anglers like to keep their pliers on a cord around their necks, for quick access. Others wear them in a sheath, on their belt. That will not work well for float tubers wearing waders but tooners fishing dry can pull it off. Pliers can also be kept in vests, chest packs or pockets on your craft. Larger pliers fit better in a tool rack on the outside. Always keep them secured within easy reach and make good use of them.