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Updated Aug 20, 2021 8:42 AM

Fish grippers clip onto a fish’s lower jaw and provide a secure hold for anglers. They’re especially helpful for slippery and toothy fish. They comprise multiple categories and utilize various materials, with different fish grippers offering an overlapping set of benefits that apply to recreational and subsistence fishermen.

Even if you think you’ve battled your quarry to full exhaustion and submission, a fish may have one last surge of power in reserve. If you want a picture, that can mean the big one gets away before you get a chance to memorialize it. If you’re chasing fish with big teeth—like muskies or a wide variety of saltwater gamefish–it can mean getting bit. If that last tail slap occurs before the fish has been unhooked, failure to properly grip and subdue that fish might mean ending up with a treble hook in your hand…while still attached to a lively beast. This is a matter not only of pride, but of safety, and choosing the wrong option may lead to bad results.

Different fish have a protective slime coating of varying thicknesses, different body shapes and different levels of aggression. So too do anglers have different needs in a fish gripper. That means that there’s no one-size-fits-all option, although some may work in multiple scenarios. Figure out what you need, what your budget can withstand, and work from there.

Best Overall Fish Gripper: Eastaboga Tackle Boga Grip

Key Features

Weight: 9 ounces, 16 ounces, 24 ounces

Materials: Stainless steel, including the precision scale spring, and highly-resilient acetal

Weight Capacity: 15, 30, or 60 pounds

Why it Made the Cut

Record hunters and those who take fish weights seriously have relied on the Boga Grip for years because it’s super tough, known to be exceptionally accurate, and is remarkably easy for anyone to operate. 

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Steel-trap like locking mechanism holds fish solidly
  • Able to chase records without having to find someone else’s certified scale
  • Free-twisting tube prevents broken wrists and broken fish jaws

Cons:

  • Most costly of our selections
  • Weight increments can be tough to read for those with deteriorating eyesight
  • Weight increments are not in precise decimals or single ounces

Product Description

The Boga Grip’s locking jaws, which can be operated with a single hand, prevent a fish from wiggling free while also reducing the chance of harming the fish while weighing it. The jaws get progressively tighter as the fish is lifted, and the main tube will spin to allow for the wild gyrations of a thrashing fish. The tube-shaped Boga Grip is made in the USA. It’s available in three models: one weighs fish up to 15 pounds in 4 ounce increments; one weighs fish up to 30 pounds in 8 ounce increments; and the last weighs fish up to 60 pounds in 8 ounce increments.

Final Thoughts

Serious record-hunters can send their Boga Grips to the IGFA in Florida to get it certified in advance. Be sure to attach a float of some sort (even a two-liter soda bottle) to your Boga, because they don’t float.

Best Budget Combo Scale and Gripper: KastKing Digital Fishing Scale with Ruler

Key Features

Weight: 6 ounces

Materials: ABS frame, TPR-coated grip.

Weight Capacity: 110 pounds

Why it Made the Cut

This inexpensive package offers a wide range of features not found even in some much more expensive grippers and scales. It precludes the need to buy multiple tools.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Remarkable versatility
  • Ability to store multiple weights makes this a valuable tool for tournament anglers looking to cull
  • Runs on readily-accessible batteries

Cons:

  • Plastic construction may not be ultra-durable

Product Description

Relatively new fishing industry entrant KastKing makes a splash with this sub-$30 multi-tool that takes the guesswork out of measuring your fish while also subduing it. The heart of the operation is a digital scale which has a memory function allowing you to store up to nine weights. It comes standard with a J-shaped hook for quick weights, but you’ll want to replace that with the included heavy-duty gripper via the attached split ring. 

Final Thoughts

It makes handling big fish safer for you and the fish, and the non-puncturing gripper floats if dropped, so you won’t lose it. This product comes with the necessary two AAA batteries and has an auto-shutoff function so it’ll retain sufficient power even if you forget to turn it off. The scale also includes a hook in case the gripper portion is not needed.

Best Budget Fish Gripper: United Plastic Fish Grip

United Fish Grips

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Key Features

Weight: 2 ounces

Materials: Plastic and stainless steel

Why it Made the Cut

Simple design with few parts to fail and three different sizes means you can choose one most suited to the species you chase — even if they range in size.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Highly visible
  • With minimal moving parts and complications, little can go wrong
  • Accessible to anglers on a budget

Cons:

  • Possible to get a gripper with more features without spending a tremendous amount more.

Product Description

The bright orange exterior of this simple locking grip (other colors are available) means that if you drop it overboard not only will it float, but it will remain highly visible from a distance or in a slight chop. That’s a huge advantage for anglers’ whose hands may still be slippery from the slime of a trophy catch, or after cleaning that night’s dinner. While its construction looks rudimentary, the fish grip locks in place to secure your grip on a fish or to remain snapped shut in your pocket. It comes in three sizes — Original, Junior and Mini — to account for the size of the fish you expect to catch or want to catch. There’s also a lanyard to further secure your hold on a flopping fish of any size.

Final Thoughts

These are the gold standard for inexpensive fish grippers. They’re inexpensive and they just work. Every boat, kayak, and tackle box should have one. 

Best Fish Gripper for Filling Your Cooler: Zeta Products The Amazing FishLifter

Key Features

Weight: 2 ounces

Materials: Injection molded from durable high-impact resin

Why It Made the Cut

Distinctive design offers an alternative for anglers who constantly fear that their treasured catches will slip from a hanging-style gripper.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Simple construction with no moving parts to fail
  • Lightweight for easy transportability
  • Holds fish firmly with no additional gripping by the angler

Cons:

  • Less than ideal for fish that will be released.

Product Description

If a fish is hanging from a vertical gripper, a mechanical failure or operator error can result in watching it come loose and sink away. Unlike most other fish grippers. The Amazing FishLifter does not clamp onto the jaw of the fish, but instead has a handle with a “spike” that runs up through the fish’s gill to immobilize it. That may not be great for conservation, and it may exclude really small fish (but you’re only after giants, right?), but beyond that it provides a fail-proof way to lift about as many pounds of fish as you can handle. It’s made in the USA and floats in case you inadvertently drop it overboard. To further prevent loss there’s a hole drilled through the base that allows installation of rope or lanyard.

Final Thoughts

This is the gripper for holding onto big fish you don’t want to lose and don’t plant to release. The design is ideal for fish that are difficult to hang on to like flounder. 

Best Filleting Fish Gripper: Cuda Skin Gripper

Key Features

Weight: 4 ounces

Materials: Aluminum alloy

Why it Made the Cut

Tools for cleaning fish are no place to skimp and the rock solid grip of this Cuda tool means protection for your fingers and eyes.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Prevents injuries due to slipping knives
  • Solid, two-position usage
  • No-slip grip 

Cons:

  • Only useful if you’re going to kill and eat the fish; no release applicability

Product Description 

While catch and release is ultra popular, and should be, there’s nothing wrong with eating a few of your favorite gamefish. If your fish has been appropriately dispatched and now it’s time to get it ready to eat, that doesn’t mean it’s no longer slippery. As you clean a fish, if it shifts you can lose not only a portion of your meal, but also a finger, so it pays to stabilize it. Cuda’s gripper can be used in two different handle positions, depending on whether you want to hold the fish from the top or from the side, and is highly corrosion resistant.

Final Thoughts

The aluminum extends throughout the entire handle to maximize strength and the scale pattern on the gripper provides further insurance that it will remain locked in your palm.

Methodology 

Just as no two rods or reels have a one-size-fits-all application, in order to find the right gripper for your day-to-day use, you have to realistically assess your needs and expectations.

We defined the term “gripper” broadly, to include anything that holds or immobilizes a fish — dead or alive — for the safety or convenience of the angler. Our primary goals were assessing ease of use, transportability, weight, durability and, where appropriate, conservation impacts.

Things to Consider Before Buying

If you plan to release a fish after using a gripper on it, a non-puncturing model is best. Furthermore, the same slime coat that makes them so hard to hold also protects them when returned to their home environment, so endeavor to wet down your gripper and your hands before handling the fish, and don’t let it thrash around in the grass, in the sand, or on the deck of your boat.

Perhaps most importantly, remember that if you are dangling a heavy fish from a gripper, or from a scale that includes a gripper, you may be putting a tremendous amount of strain on its jaws. That fish may swim away, but with a broken jaw its feeding abilities will be inhibited which may result in delayed mortality. Do your best to support a fish with a second hand — if you must weigh it vertically, try to minimize the time that process takes.

FAQs

Clear-cut answers to your fish gripper questions.

Q:Are fish grippers bad for fish?

Some fish grippers have a harmful effect on fish and may result in damage or mortality. If you intend to release fish, be sure to get one that has a conservation benefit.

Q: What is a fish lip gripper used for?

A fish lip gripper immobilizes a fish when you want to hold it in place for a picture or to remove a hook. That prevents the fish from falling to the ground or injuring you and your friends.

Q: Are fish grippers worth it?

By properly using a fish gripper, you can maintain a hold on your quarry, saving further damage to the fish, harm to you, or a slipped grip at an inopportune time.

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