Wondering what materials, grip, size, and accessories make the best pair of fishing pliers? This guide gets into the weeds on the best products to help you unhook your latest catch with ease.
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When fishing, a heavy thump on the end of your line and the sound of the wire pulling from your reel is a moment to celebrate. As you struggle to haul your catch onto the shore or into your boat, the excitement builds further, as you wonder what prize you’re fighting with.
Whether you’re going for bass in a Texas pond, grouper off of the Florida Keys, or brook trout in an Adirondack creek, your fishing pliers will be there when you need them. Grab them anytime you need to tie a new lure, cut a line, or unhook your catch. Here are some of the best fishing pliers that you can take on your next angling trip.
- BEST OVERALL: KastKing Speed Demon Pro Fishing Pliers
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: KastKing Intimidator Fishing Pliers
- BEST ALUMINUM: Calamus A7 Lightweight Aluminum Fishing Pliers
- BEST TITANIUM: Cuda 7.5 Inch Titanium Bonded Pliers
- BEST STAINLESS STEEL: PLUSINNO Fishing Pliers
- BEST FOR SALTWATER USE: Manley Professional Saltwater Fishing Pliers
- BEST FOR FLY FISHING: SAMSFX Fly Fishing Tools and Accessories Combo
- BEST SPLIT RING: Piscifun Aluminum Fishing Pliers
What to Consider When Buying Fishing Pliers
When shopping for the best fishing pliers, it pays to keep a few things in mind. These pliers will be by your side or on your vest in some potentially remote locations, so they should be highly functional and easy to use. Here are some important considerations when choosing the best fishing pliers for your next trip.
Fishing pliers come in multiple different materials, and each has its pros and cons. Materials like stainless steel, aluminum, and titanium are the most popular. They’re corrosion-resistant and sturdy enough for the boat or dock.
Stainless steel is very strong but tends to be heavy. Aluminum is very light but isn’t as sturdy as stainless steel. Titanium, on the other hand, offers both blending strength and weight savings.
Steer clear of any plain steel pliers, even if the manufacturer paints them with a “corrosion-resistant” coating. The coating will wear off, and the metal will begin to rust.
Fishing is a slippery endeavor. Between the water, live bait, and the protective film fish have on their scales, there’s plenty of slime to go around.
Some of the best fishing pliers offer slip-resistant grips that are easy to use when wet or wearing gloves. This is especially important when it comes to tying new hooks onto your line, or when removing a hook from a spirited fish.
Usually made from rubber or silicone, these grips are soft yet sturdy, and many offer finger and thumb clasps to keep your pliers firmly in hand. These grips allow you to manipulate tiny objects like fishing lines or split rings, or grab a hook firmly—no matter how much that small mouth acts like a great white in your boat.
It’s an accepted fact that you will lose a few tools to Davy Jones’ Locker (or your local fishing hole) if you fish often and long enough. To help protect your investment, and sanity, the best fishing pliers come with lanyards to keep them onboard instead of the riverbed’s bottom.
There are two types of lanyards: retractable and coiled. Retractable lanyards (available here) use stainless steel braided lines and spring-driven reels to keep your pliers close to your vest or jacket. Coiled lanyards (available here) attach to your belt, allowing you to use them without a cable in your sightline. Both are good options for safeguarding your pliers from a watery grave.
Some fish have voracious appetites. Large and smallmouth bass have a reputation for attempting to eat lures almost as big as they are. Occasionally, they do swallow lures, and the hook buries itself far down their throats, making the hook difficult to retrieve with a shorter set of pliers.
To ensure that you can release your catch quickly and without undue harm, consider keeping a longer set of pliers on hand. Pliers with slim, 2-inch noses can reach down into the mouth of a fish, or up through their gills, to remove a hook quickly and easily without keeping the fish out of water for too long.
If you want a little extra capability out on the water, purchase a set of pliers that comes with some accessories. Whether you are buying your pliers in a kit or as a standalone tool, many of the top fishing pliers come with additional accessories to make your time on the water easier and more enjoyable.
One of the most popular accessories is a belt pouch. These pouches are great for keeping your pliers within reach at all times. Most are nylon and polyester, keeping them lightweight and allowing them to dry quickly should they get wet.
If you purchase your pliers in a kit, a lip-gripper is usually included to avoid putting your finger in a fish’s mouth (some have very sharp teeth) along with a retractable lanyard, and other small tools to make the job that much easier.
Our Top Picks
The following is a list of the top fishing pliers that you can take with you on the boat or to the creek. Most have built-in features that make them incredible do-all tools, while others may be particularly good at one job. Keep reading for help deciding on the best fishing pliers to keep in your tackle box.
An excellent all-around set of fishing pliers, the KastKing Speed Demon Pros are ideal to keep on your hip or tackle box. These 420 stainless steel pliers feature a Teflon coating, protecting them from rust or saltwater damage. The nonslip polymer grip is easy to use, whether gloved or bare-handed. The Speed Demon Pro has a pair of tungsten carbide line cutters built into the handle, allowing you to slice through metal leaders or the toughest fishing lines. The jaws feature a hook remover, holes for cinching knots, and crimping surfaces for pinching steel shot onto your lines. It also has a split-ring feature to allow you to open up a split ring and replace a hook. You also get a coiled lanyard and a sheath to keep your Speed Demon Pro in the boat and in tip=top shape.
Fishing can get very expensive, so anytime you find a high-quality tool at a good price, you should consider grabbing it. The KastKing Intimidator pliers are a nice deal, with its S45 Stainless Steel construction, Teflon coating, and comfortable grip. These pliers are 9 inches long to allow you to keep your fingers away from the toothiest of mouths while unhooking your catch. The entire jaw is serrated, enabling you to get a good grip on a wet hook. It also has built-in crimpers and a cutting edge for slicing through rigid fluorocarbon lines and leaders. While it doesn’t come with a lanyard, both sides of the handle have holes for threading one through.
When it comes to hanging a set of pliers off a retractable lanyard or your belt, you need something lightweight and reliable. The Calamus A7 Lightweight Aluminum Fishing Pliers meet both of those needs. These 7-inch pliers have all the features of heavy-duty pliers, including a nonslip rubber grip, vanadium line cutters, and crimpers for split shot. To make one-handed usage a breeze, these pliers have spring-loaded handles with a locking mechanism to keep them closed when not in use. The included coiled lanyard hooks to one of the two built-in metal eyelets in the belt sheath, keeping these pliers close by even if you drop them in a heavy current.
If you’re looking for a mix of weight and strength, these Titanium Bonded Pliers from Cuda are an attractive option. At 7.5 inches long, this pair of pliers enables you to remove hooks set deeply in a fish’s mouth, thanks in part to the serrated surface along the jaws. These pliers also feature tungsten carbon cutters, which you can replace when they dull. This Cuda model comes with a tough ballistic nylon sheath and a coiled lanyard with a split ring and a carabiner. The blue-scale over-molded grips have see-through sections that not only look impressive but also prove that the handles are full-tang (meaning they extend through the entire grip), providing extra strength and durability.
The Plusinno Fishing Pliers are an excellent option for a robust, corrosion-resistant set of pliers. These 6061 stainless steel pliers are 8 inches long, with slim jaws that fit easily through gills or deep into your catch’s mouth. They also have tungsten carbide cutters for slicing lines and metal leaders quickly. Though the handles don’t have over-molded rubber or polymer grips, they do have grooves to promote a strong grip even when wet. The jaws have built-in crimpers and serrations for removing hooks or cinching knots. They also come with a belt-sheath and a lanyard, so you won’t lose them overboard or downstream.
If you spend most of your time fishing in a saltwater environment like the ocean or the Gulf of Mexico, it’s important that your gear can hold up to the salt’s destructive tendencies. These Manley Professional Saltwater Fishing Pliers are aluminum, an extremely salt-resistant material. They have tungsten carbide cutters for severing lines and leaders, regardless of whether they may be tough braided or steel lines. These pliers are 7.5 inches long and come with a handy belt sheath and detachable lanyard for keeping them nearby in a pinch. The jaws have serrations along their entire length, allowing you to grab a hook securely and to tighten stubborn knots. While there are no rubber grips, there are finger grooves, and the smooth metal surface is easy to clean should your fishing trip get messy.
While still the pursuit of catching fish, fly fishing tends to be a very different animal than other forms of fishing, and as such, you need fly-specific tools. This combo kit from SAMSFX comes with several of those tools, including a pair of stainless steel forceps-style pliers that make grabbing and holding tiny flies and hooks an easy proposition. Not only can you use these pliers to remove hooks from a trout’s toothy mouth, but you can also use them to tie flies on your bench at home. The stainless steel is tough, and the slim design and hooked jaws can reach deeply, even when dealing with smaller-mouthed fish like crappies. Also included in this kit are two retractable lanyards, allowing you to hang these pliers from your vest while you wade out into your favorite trout stream.
Make no bones about it, removing anything from a split ring is a real pain. These pliers from Piscifun make the job a little easier, however, by splitting the layers apart with their built-in split-ring tip. These aluminum pliers slip into small split rings easily while the tip separates the ring, allowing you to twist your hook off of the ring with ease. They also have crimping jaws for pinching split shot onto your line and tungsten carbide cutters for snipping those lines and leaders to length. Even with the split-ring tip, these pliers still remove hooks with their serrated jaws. This Piscifun model comes with a belt sheath and a coiled lanyard so you can strap these to your vest, backpack, or belt for easy storage.
FAQs About Your New Fishing Pliers
Some of the best fishing pliers may have some complicated built-in features that make their uses less obvious. If you have questions about your new fishing pliers, check out this collection of the most frequently asked questions and the corresponding answers.
Q. How do you remove a hook using pliers?
When removing a hook from a fish’s lip, use the pliers’ tip to grab the hook as close to the base as possible. Simply twist your wrist to apply pressure to the hook until it pops loose. Most hooks have barbs that you might have to bend a bit to remove.
If a hook is buried deep in a fish’s mouth, you can grab it through the gills. First, reach in and crush the barb flat, so it doesn’t hang up. Then, reach the pliers through the gills to grab the hook and twist it out of the fish’s mouth.
Q. How do you care for fishing pliers?
Most fishing pliers don’t require much specific care. Their corrosion-resistant materials simply require a good wipe down or rinse under a faucet. If you need to oil the pivot point, you should use food-grade oils like vegetable or olive oil to prevent putting chemicals in a fish’s mouth.
Q. How do you use split-ring fishing pliers?
Hold the pliers so that the jaw with the split-ring point is on top. Slip the lower part of the jaw through the slip ring, then squeeze the split-ring point between the layers of the ring. This will open the ring, allowing you to replace a hook or remove the ring.