Learning how to use fishing pliers can be extremely rewarding, whether you’re involved in recreational or commercial fishing. The best fishing pliers make life a lot easier when you’re setting up your fishing gear, and you’re executing tasks that require a little reinforcement. You’ll find pliers very useful when changing or baiting your hooks.

If you’re a catch-and-release angler, fishing pliers enable you to unhook your catch for release back into the sea, safely. They help to protect your fingers as you don’t have to remove the hook by hand.

Also, you can use a good pair of pliers to cut your fishing line, tighten your hook, or crimp your fishing cables.

What Are Fishing Pliers?

Fishing pliers are special tools with multiple fishing-specific applications. Such pliers help to make life a lot easier and safer for fishers. That’s because they simplify mission-critical tasks like fishing hook removal.

a green fishing pliers

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A typical set of fishing pliers has a pair of jaws made of a hard-wearing material, such as aluminum. You grip a hook between these jaws to get it out of a fish. Sharp cutters usually made of tungsten carbide are also essential pliers features. They’re for cutting fishing lines, leaders, or wires.

Split ring pliers are some of the most practical tools to include in your fishing gear today. They differ from their traditional alternatives in several ways. For example, one of the jaws in the pliers has a pointed tip. The other is flat.

Consider adding split ring pliers to your fishing arsenal for use when swapping your treble hooks or split rings. The tool can also be a lifesaver when you’re attaching objects to the ring or putting inline hooks on your baits.

Pliers and the Joy of Fishing

When you’re fishing for sport, you have every reason to ensure a high survival rate for the fish you catch and release into the water. You want the fish population in your favorite spot to remain robust so you may enjoy the sport for as long as possible. How can you achieve your objectives without compromising the fun?

Using fishing pliers for safe hook removal is a proven way to enjoy angling without depleting the fish population. Here are several ways pliers come in handy in fishing expeditions or operations:

Hook removal: go catch-and-release, but with caution!

Most deep-sea and freshwater catch-and-release fishing enthusiasts have encountered trouble getting hooks out of the mouth or gut of their fish. And they don’t even have to be unhooking a big fish to avoid complications.

Without a good pair of fishing pliers on hand, it’s always tricky to get the hook out without endangering the fish. You might even hurt your arm or leg while struggling to remove a hook manually.

Learning how to use fishing pliers is helpful in such a scenario. It’s for your safety, efficiency, and the survival of the fish you catch and release back into the sea.

Simply put, it’s not enough to just let a fish back into the water. It may swim alright on its own immediately after release even if it’s wounded. However, the fish may succumb to its injuries afterward.

With the right pair of fishing pliers, you can remove a hook from a fish without causing potentially fatal internal injuries. By minimizing the physical trauma, you’re giving the fish the best possible chance of survival. This way, you can keep a robust fish population to sustain your favorite sport, angling!

Cutting fishing hooks

pliers being used to fix fish hook

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Sometimes, a fishing hook requires cutting. The sturdiest of such hooks are metallic and difficult to cut without the right tools. The good news is that you can use pliers for this task.

Just be sure to use the right type of pliers for the size (thickness) of the hook. These tools have to be strong enough to provide the force required to cut the hook. A sturdy pair of pliers doesn’t bend easily under strain.

Cutting fishing lines

Fishing pliers are also excellent for cutting fishing lines. You can produce a clean, even cut using a tool with sharp and well-edged cutters. Typically, the wrong cutting-tool may create uneven, frayed edges. These can present numerous challenges, for example, difficulty threading a line through a hook.

Consider the type of fishing line you’re cutting when selecting a set of fishing pliers. Find out if the tool is suitable for cutting sturdy braid lines or monofilament lines. Also, are you working with fly fishing lines and backlines?

Changing fishing hooks

fishing lure with fish hooks

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Sometimes, you want to replace old fishing hooks with new ones or different types. If you’re dealing with split rings, getting anything out of these can be difficult.

Fortunately, with the right set of pliers, you can quickly open such rings, remove old hooks, and slide on new ones.


You may use a set of fishing pliers to crimp wire leads and sleeves. Crimping is the creation of a tight joint between two fishing lines.

Use the right pliers to get the cable connection right. Otherwise, weak crimped joints may break while in use, resulting in the loss of fish.

How to Use Fishing Pliers: A Guide

Fishing pliers have multiple applications in both recreational and commercial fishing. As such, how to effectively use them depends on the task at hand.

Split ring pliers: how to swap fishing hooks

an angler using fishing pliers

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This process requires that you hold the split ring firmly. Then, use the other hand to handle/operate the pliers.

Step 1

While holding the split ring, turn it to expose the end of one of the coils.

Step 2

Open the pliers’ handles as you would a traditional pair of pliers. You don’t have to do this if you’re using spring-loaded pliers that stay open unless their handles are squeezed together.

Step 3

Open the split ring. Start by putting the flat part of the pliers into the ring. Close the pliers to push the notched tip of the other jaw in between the rings.

Step 4

Turn the hook until it’s between the two coils of the ring. With the hook stuck between the two rings, you may take the pliers out without closing the split ring.

Step 5

Grab the split ring firmly with the pliers and slide the hook further around the coil to remove it. However, doing that closes the split ring, meaning that you have to open it again to add a new hook.

​Step 6

Repeat steps one to three to reopen the split ring.

​Step 7

Find the open end of the split ring and add the new hook. Slide it around to the other end of the coil. At this point, the hook should dangle freely on the ring.

How to use fishing pliers for hook removal

pliers used to remove hook in the mouth of a fish

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Pliers enable you to get hooks out of fish for quick release back into the sea. Acting fast minimizes the psychological pressure on the caught fish, improving its survival chances after release.

Step 1

Learn how to use fishing pliers effectively. That’s important because you need to work fast with the tool without injuring the fish.

Step 2

Determine if it’s safe to remove the hook. Sometimes, it’s difficult or risky to remove a hook stuck in the lip or deeper, such as in the gut of a fish.

In such a case, you may use a set of pliers to cut off a significant portion of the hook before letting the fish back in the water.

Step 3

With the fish in the water, grab the hook using the pliers. Twist your wrist to unhook. Don’t just pull the hook.

Step 4

Release the fish.

How to Select the Right Fishing Pliers

fishing pliers and other tools

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There are several factors worth considering when selecting the right set of fishing pliers. These include:

Compact design

Fishing pliers should have a compact design to enable you to work efficiently and safely. The tool should be light and small enough to operate with one hand. Its jaws have to be of the right size to slip through your split rings with ease.


Choose pliers that are easy to handle. Tools with CNC cut handles are some of the best you can find in the market today.


Easy-to-use fishing pliers let you focus on the task at hand. For example, spring-loaded pliers remain open and ready for quick use. Thus, you don’t have to push the handles apart before gripping or cutting something.

Usability is important, especially if you’re learning how to use fishing pliers for the first time.

Material of construction

Titanium-coated stainless steel and aluminum boast anti-corrosion properties. They’re excellent materials for pliers meant for both saltwater and freshwater fishing. These metals are also sturdy and durable.

However, harder materials are the best for making the cutting components of fishing pliers. Some of the best such tools have tungsten carbide cutters.

stainless steel pliers

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Specialty features

Figuring out what features to look for is essential to understanding how to use fishing pliers correctly.

Typically, specialty tools have unique features that lack in their standard alternatives. For instance, a set of split ring pliers has a split ring tip on one of the jaws.

How to Use Fishing Pliers for Efficiency and Safety in Your Operations

fishing pliers on a tackle box

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Having the right set of pliers on hand can contribute immensely to the success of your fishing expedition. It saves the day when you need to quickly and safely remove a hook from a catch-and-release fish.

You can count on it when swapping your hooks on a split ring. Besides, fishing pliers can help with the fast cutting of hooks and fishing lines. They also add efficiency to crimping and gripping tasks.

Learning how to use fishing pliers is essential to the successful execution of various mission-critical tasks in fishing operations.

Was it fun learning how to use fishing pliers? Share your experience in the comments section below.

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