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Published Jul. 27, 2021

Fishing pliers are one of those indispensable items of fishing gear that every angler must have. The most common style of fishing pliers resembles the standard needle nose pliers that you can buy at any hardware store. But many pliers have many other features, and the ones to get depend on what type of fishing you do.

No matter what type of pliers you get, make sure they’re built well to provide years of use. They need to be corrosion-resistant, with jaws that line up properly and handles that won’t slip when your hands are wet. Below is a guide to the best fishing pliers available today. 

What you need to consider before buying the best fishing pliers

All fishing pliers share one thing in common—they have narrow, tapered jaws that allow you to fit them into a fish’s mouth and, if needed, down its throat to remove a hook. Pliers come in different sizes and with different features that make them suitable for the kind of fishing that you prefer. If you use large hooks for toothy fish like musky, you need big, rugged pliers and should also consider pistol grip pliers. If you are a fly angler, you need a small, slender pair of pliers that can grip small flies. 

Of course, pliers do more than just remove hooks. Some pliers have added features like wire cutters. Special split ring pliers are necessary for removing and replacing hooks on your lures but don’t serve the function of removing hooks from fish.

Read on to find the best fishing pliers for the kind of fishing that you do.

You can’t go wrong with needle nose pliers

The classic—and most popular—kind of fishing plier is a basic needle nose plier. These typically have a slender and straight needle nose made out of metal. The slender nose means you can put the pliers where you can’t put your fingers, which makes them essential for removing hooks from your catch.

A good pair of needle nose pliers for fishing will be slender but still strong enough to torque on a deeply embedded hook. They’ll come with ergonomic rubber or soft-plastic handles that let you grip the pliers well. 

Best needle nose pliers for fishing: Rapala Stainless Steel Pliers

Trustworthy

They’re strong and durable needle nose pliers. Rapala

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The Rapala Stainless Steel Pliers are rust-resistant. They boast a classic needle nose design but also have features such as a side cutter for thin line leaders, a split shot crimper, and a lure tuning tool.

For gut-hooked and toothy fish, consider pistol grip pliers

Pistol grip pliers have become popular fishing accessories in recent years. Anglers who often encounter deeply embedded hooks, or who remove hooks from toothy fish such as pike and pickerel, should consider adding pistol grip pliers to their fishing kit. 

The main difference between pistol grip pliers and needle-nose pliers is the grip. The handles of pistol grip pliers bend ninety degrees from the front of the pliers, much like the handle of a pistol is perpendicular from the barrel. That allows you to insert the pliers deeply into the fish’s mouth—and also keeps your fingers away from the sharp teeth of a slippery, writhing fish. 

Best fishing pliers with a pistol grip: Bubba Stainless Steel Pistol Grip Fishing Pliers

Effective Design

They’re made to remove hooks that you wouldn’t be able to with traditional fishing pliers. Bubba

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The Bubba Stainless Steel Pistol Grip Fishing Pliers feature strong carbide cutters, split shot and leader sleeve crimping cutouts, and a rubberized pistol grip handle. The spring-loaded jaws are titanium-bonded for long-lasting durability. 

Fly anglers should get fly-fishing specific pliers

If you’re a conventional angler who is learning how to fly fish, you need to add new pliers to the long list of equipment needed to chuck feathers successfully. Most flies are small compared to fishing lures, so standard fishing pliers tend to be too bulky to use for fly fishing. You need small, exceptionally slender fishing pliers to remove small nymphs and dry flies. In fact, some fly fishing pliers are known as fly fishing forceps. You’ll also be able to remove the barbs on your flies with your pliers, which is important if you’re a catch-and-release fly angler.

Best fly fishing pliers: Umpqua Fly Fishing Rivergrip Scissor Forcep

Finesse tool

It’s a slender pair of fly fishing pliers with a beefy scissor clamp. Umpqua

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Use the Umpqua Fly Fishing Rivergrip Scissor Forcep to remove flies, crip hooks, and cut leader material with confidence. The oversized finger loop is a nice touch that makes it easy to handle. 

What are split ring pliers?

Split ring pliers are another piece of fishing equipment that many anglers have. Instead of being designed for removing fish hooks like traditional fishing pliers, split ring pliers are meant for changing out hooks on your favorite lures by easily opening the split ring that forms the connection between hook and lure.

Split ring pliers were initially designed for jewelers so they could easily remove and replace parts such as the centerpieces of necklaces, which are attached to small split rings. To use split ring pliers on lures, you place the split ring on the flat side of the pliers and insert the pointed end into the ring to open up enough space to remove or insert a hook. Split ring pliers make it easy to replace broken or rusty hooks, change hook sizes, and replace treble hooks with single hooks. 

Best split ring pliers: Texas Tackle Split-Ring Pryers

Well Made

They make the time-consuming task of swapping hooks easier and quicker. Texas Tackle

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Texas Tackle Split-Ring Pryers are well-designed split ring pliers. The stainless steel is corrosion-resistant and durable. They’ll help you change out hooks far more efficiently than you could with just your fingers. 

Best Fishing pliers Under $10

Fishing pliers aren’t particularly expensive as far as fishing supplies go. You can get a solid pair of fishing pliers for little money. But if you’re on a budget and want to find a pair of inexpensive pliers that will get the job done, make sure the pliers are made of stainless steel and have grippy handles. 

Best fishing pliers on a budget: Amoygoog Stainless Steel Fishing Pliers

Many features

They come with all of the bells and whistles you can ask for out of a pair of fishing pliers. Amoygoog

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Amoygoog Stainless Steel Fishing Pliers come with durable, stainless steel jaws as well as a spring loaded handle, fixed-lock design, and a lanyard to prevent you from dropping them into the water…a not uncommon occurrence.

FAQs

Q: Do you really need fishing pliers for fishing?

Yes, you really need fishing pliers for fishing. All anglers should have a good pair of fishing pliers. It’s a fundamental tool that allows you to easily remove hooks from fish, and perform many other jobs.

Q: How to choose the best fishing pliers?

Choosing the right fishing pliers depends on what you’ll be using them for. Are you removing hooks from fish? Go for needle-nose pliers. Will those fish have sharp teeth? Get pistol grip pliers, which will keep your fingers safe. Do you need to swap hooks on your favorite lures? Get split ring pliers. 

Q: What to look for when buying fishing pliers?

Look for a durable and strong product when buying fishing pliers. Stainless steel jaws have anti-corrosion properties and are plenty strong to remove all forms of hooks. Rubberized handles tend to be grippier than plastic ones. Also think about what kind of added features, such as line cutters, you want to have in your new pair of fishing pliers. 

A final tip about the best fishing pliers

Stainless steel doesn’t mean rustproof. If you use stainless steel fishing pliers in saltwater, be sure to give them fresh water rinse after every trip. A quick shot of spray lubricant afterward will keep the pliers in excellent working shape for decades.

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