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The Perfect Pliers

By Brenton Roberts

A key component in every fisherman's tackle box.

Fewer troubles with treble hooks, if you have a good pair of pliers handy. Ego's ti22 titanium model defeats corrosion, too.

You're standing on the sharp end of the skiff, as the sun is starting to trickle over the horizon. Mullet milling throughout the flats and gamefish close behind, it's topwater time. Making long casts and steady retrieves, you get what you have come for—a big trout has garbaged your plug. While landing this fish you notice the lure is wedged deep in the crevices of its mouth and you forgot your pliers at home.

Fishing without pliers is an accident waiting to happen, possibly ending with a hook in your flesh, leaving you questioning yourself, “Why didn't I bring pliers?”

For removing hooks from fish, any pair of pliers—even a cheap needlenose pair from your garage—is better than fingers. But for cutting line, removingsplit rings and performing other fishing chores, a pair of specialized fishing pliers is a must-have.


The best fishing pliers are built of strong, lightweight, corrosion-resistant materials. Many companies use a variant of a 6061 high-grade aluminum, anodized to deliver excellent corrosion resistance. These style pliers are surprisingly affordable. Rapala's 6 ½-inch aluminum pliers, for example, retails for around $31.49.

At the higher end, some companies opt for titanium. No worrying over rust or oxidation with these pliers. Ego products, for instance, claims a 100-percent rustproof body on the Ti22 pliers. The weight-to-strength ratio for titanium is another selling point, being just as strong as steel but 40 percent lighter, averaging 5 to 6 ounces for a pair of 6-inch titanium pliers.


Comfort and security should be a priority. Many pliers are knurled to fit your hand like a glove, making gripping them very comfortable. Others feature rubber handles to ensure a tight grip with slippery hands. The Williamson Double Leverage 9-inch pliers are a great example of this design, enabling you to get a solid hold on the hook.

Porting of pliers has become very popular recently. This drops weight and for some anglers enhances the look and feel of the tool.


Removing hooks is not the only thing pliers are useful for. Designers have incorporated many features to make for an easier of day fishing.

You will find split ring tools on many pliers, for instance, allowing safe and easy replacement of hooks on lures with split rings.

Notches in the jaws of many pliers make crimping a breeze when rigging up. A smooth pair of spring loaded jaws helps tremendously when unhooking a fish one-handed. Some pliers have unique features, such as the Ross Pescador pliers, with its diamond-coated hook sharpener.

With all the new polyethylene super lines used today, carbide cutters are a very desirable feature on fishing pliers. Even the best cutters tend to dull, though, and can lose that great “snip” they have from out of the package. A well-designed pair of pliers will have the replaceable cutters secured with a small Allen key screw, which makes for easy and simple replacement. Where can you find replacements? Many cutters may look similar and you might think another brand will fit yours, but before money is wasted and frustration settles in, your best bet is to speak with the manufacturer.


The best pliers are the ones on you at all times. Sheaths and lanyards come with almost all pliers and are a necessity. Most have a belt loop attachment or clip to ensure you keep the tool by your side when needed most. Sheaths are usually made of a durable nylon or leather. Lanyards can be a plier-saver, saving your tool from the drink. They tend to be a strong rubber “spring” style design with some including a wire core for assurance.


After a day of fishing, always rinse your pliers with fresh water, to help prevent rust and corrosion. Once dry, apply WD40 or your favorite type of grease to the fulcrum of the pliers working it in to ensure smooth use for years to come. Corrosion resistance sprays, like Corrosion Block, also help pliers work better and last longer. FS

First published Florida Sportsman August 2014

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