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August 12, 2022  |  Camping & Outdoors

It's time to upgrade your fishing pliers: 6 high-end sets you need to see

There are two schools of thought when buying something as essential as fishing pliers. One approach is to get the cheapest pair possible and use it until the tool doesn’t work anymore, then buy another cheap pair.

The other option is to spend a little beyond your comfort zone because fishing pliers are something you use every trip. This way, instead of buying new gear every couple of seasons, you’ll have a tool that you can depend on year after year. In the long run, buying quality is more cost-effective.

Do I really need fishing pliers?

The right tool makes all the difference, and though the differences may be subtle, they’re important. For instance, a serrated knife cuts bread better than a butcher’s knife because it saws through the bread without applying downward pressure, which would otherwise crush the bread. Likewise, fishing pliers have critical differences in their design that make them better suited for the task than common long-nose pliers.

If you were in a bind, you could probably get through the day with a set of pliers that you keep in your carpentry tool box. But chances are, that day would also be filled with an abundance of swear words, cut fingers and strained friendships.

How do I know when it’s time for new pliers?

Short of your fishing pliers being in two pieces or at the bottom of a lake, the thing to look for is diminished performance. This applies to any aspect. If you have trouble smoothly opening or closing your fishing pliers because of corrosion, misalignment makes it hard to grab a hook or a dull edge makes it hard to snip through a fishing line or impossible to cut through a shank, it’s time to consider upgrading to a better set of fishing pliers.

What do you get when spending more on fishing pliers?

Dependable operation

When you spend more money on a pair of fishing pliers, you’re doing so because you want to get a reliable tool that you know will work when you need it. The tips grip, the blades snip, the handles are comfortable and secure and you have the power needed to get the job done without fear of breaking the pliers.

More features

When you pay more, you should get all the bells and whistles. This includes the best, rust-resistant materials as well as the most features. You want to be able to remove hooks, cut lines, effortlessly open split rings, reach deep inside a toothy fish, repair gear on the fly and have a durable sheath that helps protect your pliers while keeping them within reach.

Last longer

If the price is more, you shouldn’t have to replace the pliers as often or at all. Cheap fishing pliers might corrode or break unexpectedly before you even get a year out of them. Models that cost more and are made of more durable materials, such as titanium, will be around for many seasons, as long as you don’t drop them overboard.

Safer to use

Have you ever heard the adage, “a sharp knife is a safe knife”? It’s true — as long as you take care when handling it. In general, tools that perform better won’t have any surprises. This means there’s less of a chance you’ll injure yourself from something like the grip slipping when you’re giving a good tug.

What should I look for in a quality pair of fishing pliers?

The best fishing pliers are ones that are suitable for the type of fishing you’re doing. For instance, a pistol grip is usually best when you’re going after larger fish, while narrow pliers are what fly fishers need to grip small flies. Some key features are:


Corrosion is a much bigger issue with saltwater fishing. You want to get a pair of pliers that are stainless steel, aircraft-grade aluminum or titanium. Even if you aren’t fishing in salt water, these are solid material choices.


The longer the length of the pliers, the deeper you can reach into the throat of the fish. In other words, if you’re interested in bigger fish, say in the ocean, you’re going to need longer pliers.


There are a wide variety of cutters built into fishing pliers. If you’re only cutting monofilament lines, you’ll be okay with just about anything. However, if you want to snip a braided fishing line or you need to cut through the shank of a hook, you’ll need something a little more heavy-duty.

Split ring tool

If you want to easily split rings on bigger hooks, a pair of fishing pliers with a split ring tool will come in handy. While not absolutely essential, it makes things go much more smoothly.

Ergonomic, nonslip grip

At some point, you’ll need to put a little muscle into what you’re doing. It’s then that you’ll realize how vital it is to have pliers with a comfortable nonslip grip. This is one feature that’s worth every penny.

Best fishing pliers

Outdoors-Best Van Staal 7-Inch Titanium Pliers Kit with Lanyard and Sheath

Van Staal 7-Inch Titanium Pliers Kit with Lanyard and Sheath

These fishing pliers carry a hefty price. However, if you want a titanium tool with a tungsten cutter that offers reliable precision that lasts, this top-shelf option is for you.

Sold by Amazon

Outdoors-Best Bubba 8.5-Inch Pistol Grip Stainless Steel Pliers

Bubba 8.5-Inch Pistol Grip Stainless Steel Pliers

The 90-degree pistol handle sets these pliers apart from other options. The stainless steel construction and spring-loaded carbide cutters ensure satisfying performance on every trip.

Sold by Amazon

Best Bubba 6.5-Inch Stainless Steel Pliers

Bubba 6.5-Inch Stainless Steel Pliers

This option from Bubba has a nonslip grip that keeps the pliers in your hand, even when they’re wet. The tool has a built-in hole to attach a lanyard for worry-free operation.

Sold by Amazon and Dick's Sporting Goods

Camping-Outdoors-Best Rapala 6.5-Inch Aluminum Fishing Pliers

Rapala 6.5-Inch Aluminum Fishing Pliers

These deceptively basic-looking fishing pliers can do it all. The internal spring allows one-handed operation, while the built-in split ring tool comes in handy for changing hooks. Plus, the lightweight aluminum construction ensures these pliers will be your favorite for many years.

Sold by Amazon and Dick's Sporting Goods

Outdoors-Best Cuda 8-Inch Stainless Steel Freshwater Fishing Pliers

Cuda 8-Inch Stainless Steel Freshwater Fishing Pliers

This titanium-bonded set of stainless steel pliers offers great value. They’re tough enough to cut titanium wire, and the scale pattern on the handles provides a comfortable and secure grip.

Sold by Amazon

Outdoors-Best Rapala 11-Inch Salt Angler's Pliers

Rapala 11-Inch Salt Angler's Pliers

If you’re hoping there’s a budget option, this is it. These 11-inch pliers give you the reach to get those deep-hooked baits. The nickel-plated carbon steel is rust-resistant for durability.

Sold by Dick's Sporting Goods and Amazon


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Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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