Best Fishing Pliers

Updated September 2020
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

28 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
391 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best fishing pliers

Last Updated September 2020

Fishing pliers are like regular pliers but modified to be used for some of the specialized tasks associated with fishing. As such, they have features you won’t see on regular pliers.

Some of the special characteristics of fishing pliers include materials that won’t rust and are suitable for use in salt water as well as fresh water. These tools are able to cut many types of fishing line and open split rings. They are as lightweight as possible, and they have a sheath that can be worn on your belt for quick access at a moment’s notice. They also include a lanyard so if you drop them you don’t have to watch helplessly as they sink beneath the waves. In addition, fishing pliers should have a comfortable ergonomic design and nonslip or rubberized grips to ensure you can keep hold of them.

We’ve been studying these products and can help you find the right pair of fishing pliers for your fishing style. Keep reading our buying guide for more information as well as some of our favorites.

Lightweight pliers remind you to be gentle when removing the hook from a fish’s mouth.

Key considerations

Fish

The main consideration before you buy fishing pliers is what you’re fishing for. If you’re fishing in a mountain stream for rainbow trout, generally a smaller fish that doesn’t swallow the hook very deeply, you’ll need a smaller pair of fishing pliers. On the other hand, a larger fish requires stronger tools. If you’re fishing for catfish or largemouth bass, you’re going to need a larger and stronger pair of pliers. If you switch from one type of fishing to another, you might need different pliers for each type of fish.

DID YOU KNOW?

Fishing pliers correctly used have saved more fingers from more hooks than all the gloves in the world.

Fishing pliers features

Material

Most fishing pliers consist of stainless steel jaws and tungsten carbide line cutters attached to aluminum handles. Plier handles are available in different colors, including black, silver, red, blue, and orange. Not all manufacturers offer all colors.

Split ring opener

Split rings are small circles of stainless steel used to connect hooks, spinners, weights, and other items on the fishing line. They resemble the ring on a keychain only smaller. Trying to pry one ring apart from the other in order to put a key on a ring is difficult enough. Trying to pry open a much smaller split ring used for fishing is harder, so manufacturers of fishing pliers have put a small triangular tooth on the tip to pry open the split ring. Some people may complain about the split ring tooth getting in the way when they’re removing a hook from a fish, but the fact is that virtually all the best fishing pliers include a split ring opener.

Line cutters

One of the big differences between regular pliers and fishing pliers is the addition of built-in line cutters. The placement differs from one model to the next, but all of them now include a line cutter. The better fishing pliers have replaceable line cutters held in place with a screw. When the line cutter gets dull, instead of trying to sharpen it you can simply unscrew it, put on a new line cutter, and tighten the screw. There are two sides to each line cutter and you have to replace both.

Nose

On most fishing pliers, the nose takes about a quarter to a third of the length of the tool. On some long-nose pliers that percentage is nearly half. A longer nose means you’re able to reach farther down a fish’s mouth and throat to retrieve a hook. If you understand the fish you’re after, you know how deeply they swallow hooks, and that will dictate how long of a nose you need on your pliers.

Crimping slots

Crimping a lead weight on a fishing line can be done with the nose of the pliers, but the better ones have special crimping slots designed to hold the weight securely in place while you crimp it closed. These crimping slots can make your fishing experience a lot easier.

Hook holes

Hook holes are another special design feature of fishing pliers. When you’re tying a knot in the hole at the end of a hook, it can be difficult (and dangerous) to pull on the hook with your bare fingers to tighten the knot. Instead, put the sharp end of the hook through one of the hook holes on your pliers and you’ll be able to pull it tight without risking your fingers.

Sheath

Regular pliers can just bang around in your tackle box or snap into a fitted slot, but fishing pliers have to go with you. A sheath worn on your belt keeps them close at hand without getting in the way.

Lanyard

A lanyard is essential when you’re fishing from a dock or boat. If you’re standing on the bank of a river or lake and you drop your pliers, you can retrieve them relatively easily. If you’re fishing from a dock or boat, not so much. Make sure the pliers you buy come with a lanyard. Some people may complain that it gets in the way, but the first time you drop your pliers in deep water, you’ll be glad you have that safety line.

Fishing pliers might seem simple at first, but the more you use them, the more you will use them.

Accessories

Fish scale: Dr.meter Digital Fishing Scale
This portable electronic hanging fish scale accurately weighs fish up to 110 pounds. The backlit LCD display can show the weight in pounds or kilograms. It comes with a measuring tape and two AAA batteries.

Fish gripper: ZACX Fish Lip Gripper
Keep a firm grip on slippery fish with this EVA foam-handled gripper. It has a classic T-shaped grip and release pull on the spring-loaded stainless steel jaws. The wrist lanyard ensures you won’t lose it in the water.

Fishing gloves: Berkley Fishing Gloves
Don’t let a slippery fish get away from you! Keep a firm grip on fish with these textured gloves that are flexible yet strong enough to protect your hands from spines and other prickly parts. These heavy-duty gloves are washable, too.

Fishing pliers prices

Inexpensive: You can find fishing pliers for under $10. These are no-frills tools that don’t have an ergonomic design or replaceable line cutters.

Mid-range: You’ll find most fishing pliers in the $10 to $20 range. They generally have all of the features listed above.

Expensive: Fishing pliers that cost more than $20 have some extra features like a Teflon coating, thick rubberized grips, and solid stainless steel.

EXPERT TIP

If you accidentally pierce yourself with a fishing hook, the fishing pliers can cut the hook then draw out the remainder without the barb tearing out additional skin.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Open split rings by using the nose tooth of the pliers right near the tip. Slip the pointed end through the eye of the fish hook and slide it around the split ring a little at a time, just like putting a key on a ring, until the hook is all the way on the ring.
  • Flatten the hook barbs for catch-and-release fishing. Use the pliers to flatten or compress any barbs on your hooks if you plan on releasing the fish after you catch them. This will greatly increase their chance of survival.
  • Remove hooks quickly. Hold the fish firmly in one hand and with the other use the fishing pliers to secure a good grip on the hook and take it out quickly.
Fishing pliers come with split ring openers because you need them on your fishing lures. Make sure you have a good supply of split rings on hand.

FAQ

Q. Can fishing pliers be used as regular pliers?
A.
Technically, yes, but grease and debris from other uses will stay on the pliers and contaminate your hooks, line, sinkers, and bait.
 

Q. What kind of oil should I use to lubricate my fishing pliers?
A.
Fish oil or vegetable oil from your kitchen. Do not use any kind of machine oil.
 

Q. Should I dry my fishing pliers after using them?
A.
Yes. Water resistant doesn’t mean waterproof. Dry them to prevent rust.

Other Products We Considered
The BestReviews editorial team researches hundreds of products based on consumer reviews, brand quality, and value. We then choose a shorter list for in-depth research and testing before finalizing our top picks. These are the products we considered that ultimately didn't make our top 5.
The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Kyle
    Kyle
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

BestReviews wants to be better. Please take our 3-minute survey,
and give us feedback about your visit today.

Take Survey