How To Use Fishing Pliers The Right Way

fishing pliers on top of a tackle box

When you think about the long list of things you plan to learn someday, “how to use fishing pliers” probably isn't one of them. You're all about the cool stuff — playing piano, cooking the perfect stroganoff, painting in oils. Things that will help you stand out among your friends and make you look smart.

Learning to use pliers when you can unhook a fish just as well with your hands? No, thank you.

We get it. Fishing pliers aren't the coolest. But learning how to use fishing pliers may just up your fishing game enough to make you the envy of your nautical circle.

Interested now? Or simply skeptical?

What Are Fishing Pliers?

a fishing pliers

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Fishing pliers are tools that anglers use for various purposes, including cutting lines, attaching hooks to tackle and removing hooks from fish. While they’re clearly useful tools to have on hand, many anglers end up overlooking them.

You certainly shouldn’t, though. Fishing pliers can help you out of more sticky situations than you can imagine – and you’re spared a lot of manual work too! And with enough practice, you’ll learn how to use fishing pliers like an expert, so go ahead and invest in a pair.

Why Are Fishing Pliers Important?

Fishing pliers are among those pieces of equipment that you tend to overlook until you really need them. Anyone who’s gone on a fishing trip and had trouble unhooking a fish, though, knows just how important pliers are! And there’s a lot more to fishing pliers than just unhooking fish.

When the hook on your lure becomes broken or rusty, you’ll need to cut it off. Picking pliers that have enough strength to cut hooks can be the difference between easy fishing and your entire trip wasted on you tugging fruitlessly at the hook. Split-ring pliers are a great choice here, as they’re designed to exert enough leverage to cut hooks cleanly off.

Sometimes, the fish you catch ends up swallowing the hook. Or maybe it simply got hooked through the mouth and you need to pry it loose. That’s where a pair of long-nose fishing pliers can pull the hook out for you, no matter how deep it is.

Cutting lines might seem like an easier job than cutting hooks, but try threading a hook with a frayed line. That’s what happens when you use weak pliers that can’t snip through the line at one go. Choose fishing pliers with sharp cutting edges so that you get a clean-cut line every time.

How to Use Fishing Pliers Correctly

Apart from cutting lines, fishing pliers are crucial for removing fish hooks and tightening the new hooks into place. You might even need to pull out a fish hook that you’ve accidentally pierced yourself with – ouch! Here’s how to correc​​tly use fishing pliers and make hook removal a cinch.

You first open the jaws of the pliers by opening the handles. Then you insert the tip of the pliers into the split rings. You’ll want to make sure the pointed ends of the split ring are positioned near the end of the ring and properly lined up.

Hold the pliers firmly and slide the old hook around the ring to pull it out of the open side of the split ring. Make sure you slide the pliers around the ring too.

To position a new hook, you need to open the split ring and insert the hook into the opening. Then slide your pliers around the ring.

You need to make sure that your hook is in position and that the ring is opened wide enough to let the hook pass through.

Now keep doing this until the hook is in place and free of the ring. Remove your fishing pliers and voila! Your tackle has a brand-new hook and is ready for fishing.

For hassle-free hook replacement every time, we recommend these fishi​​ng pliers by Piscifun. With spring-loaded pliers and industry-standard tungsten carbide cutters, these pliers are easy to use even with one hand.

How to Use Pliers Without Hurting Your Fish

pliers being used to unhook a fish

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A lot of anglers are opting for catch-and-release fishing to ensure that the fish lives another day while also enjoying the thrill of the catch. For that to work, though, you need to make sure your catch has the highest chance of staying alive afterward!

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Here’s the best way to use pliers without injuring your fish in the process.

The first step is to make sure you’re using a fish-friendly hook. A barbless circular hook is much better than a j-hook in this regard, as circular hooks are much less likely to catch in the gills and thus risk damaging the fish’s internal organs.

Secondly, you should reel your catch in as speedily as possible. Keeping your fish on the hook for too long can exhaust the fish, making it harder to swim away once you release it into the water. Too much time on the hook could also stress the fish out psychologically, so make sure you reel in and release the fish with minimal delay!

Thirdly, you need to practice using your pliers quickly and efficiently. Try and keep the fish underwater while you release the hook so you can set the fish free as quickly as possible. Invest in the best fishing pliers you can find and keep practicing with hooks – you’ll soon be catching and releasing like a pro!

How to Choose the Right Set of Fishing Pliers

fishing pliers and other gear

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Now that you know how to use fishing pliers, you have to know how to choose them.

When you think about how to use fishing pliers, the next question that comes up is how to choose the right set for the job. Fishing pliers come in all sizes and materials, and it can be tough for an angler to know which ones are worth it. Here are some things you should keep in mind when buying your pliers.

red plier icon

The first point to consider is where you’ll be using your pliers? Do you prefer saltwater fishing or freshwater fishing or both? Not all pliers work well in both types of water, so be sure to pick an appropriate set based on your fishing habits.

Next is material, and stainless steel is one of the best materials for fishing pliers. For fishing in saltwater, though, aluminum pliers typically work better. You’ll want to check the grade of stainless steel in your pliers, as not all steel is equally durable.

You should also consider buying long-nose pliers if your fish are on the larger side and your hooks get stuck deep inside their bodies. Larger fish usually exist in saltwater, so definitely opt for long-nose pliers if you mainly fish in saltwater.

The cutters are one of the most important components of your pliers. Choose sharp, durable cutters that can easily slice through lines. Tungsten carbide is the best material for cutters in fishing pliers.

A split ring is indispensable for removing and installing hooks with ease, so pick a pair with a split ring. We love these aluminum fishing pliers by Booms Fishing, with a corrosion-resistant structure and a steel-wire coiled lanyard for easy portability.

Finally, choose pliers that aren’t too heavy and have an ergonomic design to withstand extreme conditions. You should be able to grip the handle easily and apply pressure as needed without too much strain.

How to Take Care of Your Pliers

fishing pliers on a tackle box

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Your fishing pliers might be designed for heavy use, but they need their share​​ of TLC too! Be sure to store your pliers in a dry environment between uses and get rid of any rust or corrosion with a steel brush. If you’re wondering how to use fishing pliers safely in saltwater, be sure to clean them in freshwater after each use and wipe them with light oil from time to time.

How Do I Make the Best Use of My Fishing Pliers?

Landing a good catch on your fishing expedition is largely about luck. Maybe you attract enough fish, maybe you don't. But having a pair of fishing pliers on hand can speed up your game like nothing else can.

Think about all the time you save when you unhook a fish with pliers. No need to worry about your fingers getting caught in the hook — and if you're into catch-and-release, the faster you release your fish the better! And when you need to cut a line or replace a hook, your fishing pliers are your best friend, without a doubt.

The best way to answer the question of how to use fishing pliers is – keep using them! With practice and care, you’ll be unhooking fish and cutting lines like you’ve been doing it all your life!

Fish Icon made by Freepik from Flaticon

Plier Icon made by Smashicons via Flaticon

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