A fish gripper is the ideal tool for handling medium to large fish, and for many anglers, it’s an essential piece of gear.
In contrast to fish like largemouth bass, which are safe to lip by hand, species like muskie and pike, as well as saltwater favorites like bluefish and barracuda, sport a mouth full of sharp teeth, making a fish gripper essential for safe handling.
And for fish that get larger than 10 pounds, a gripper makes handling much, much less of a hassle. Useful on everything from big catfish to striped bass, when used properly, grippers make handling average-size fish much easier.
If that sounds like a good idea to you, but you don’t know where to start, we’d like to help. Below, you’ll find reviews of some of our favorite lip grippers, as well as a buying guide explaining what to look for in a good one.
Quick glance at the best fish grippers:
Table of Contents (clickable)
Material: stainless steel
Capacity: 60 lbs.
Bog Grip is the go-to name in fish grippers if you’re looking for the gold standard in quality, durability, and capacity. Of course, you’ll need to expect to pay a premium for this awesome product, but many anglers swear by Boga.
The 260 is the big boy of the Boga lineup, offering a 60-pound capacity with an internal spring scale that measures in ½-pound increments.
On the working end, you’ll find a stainless steel clamp with a durable, super-high quality spring. Both are resistant to corrosion, as you’d expect. The clamp is opened by the usual ring on the shaft.
The grip is a durable, EVA foam, and the ergonomics are as good as a shaft-style gripper can get.
Weights are measured directly on the shaft, employing an internal spring scale. That means there are no batteries to replace, delicate electronics to break, or screens to fog--just day-in, day-out accuracy.
And while the price of the Boga can be a bit shocking, keep in mind that you’re purchasing unrivaled durability and a tool that will last decades without failing when you need it most.
Material: stainless steel
Capacity: 33 lbs/15kg
Entsport’s Fish Lip Gripper is more or less a copy of the legendary Boga, albeit at a much lower price point. Undoubtedly, that price is achieved through a reduction in the quality of the components, and Entsport doesn’t offer a model capable of the capacity of the Boga 260.
That said, these are capable, durable grippers that get the job done and cost just a fraction of their famous counterparts.
Like the Boga, you’ll find an EVA foam handle, stainless components, and a tough, strong clamp at the working end. And as you’d expect, the Entsport contains a simple spring scale that maxes out at 15 kg--and yes, it’s marked in metric.
For some folks, that may be a deal-breaker, but thousands of anglers are willing to multiply by 2.2 for the price.
So, where does the Entsport fail in comparison?
The measuring spring isn’t terribly accurate, though your experience may vary. That can cause problems for tournament anglers, and if you’re fishing for money, by all means, go with the Boga.
But at about 10% of the price, the Entsport makes a lot of sense.
Rapala’s 9” Floating Fish Gripper is a fantastic tool. And don’t let the word “plastic” fool you--this is a tough, durable, no-nonsense option.
Designed to somewhat resemble channel-locking pliers, the ergonomics of the Rapala are pretty good, with a ridged handle that offers “stops” at the back end to help you keep your grip. They really work, and plenty of anglers report lipping fish of 30 pounds or more with these grippers.
They’re also very, very light, making them easy to store in a pocket on your PFD or pants.
You can use these grippers in conjunction with a scale to weigh your fish, but they don’t offer a scale of their own. That’s not bad, actually, as you won’t need to worry about accuracy on an inexpensive tool that’s going to see some hard knocks.
Speaking of which, the durability of these grippers is simply excellent. They can really take a beating, as has been proven time and time again on the water.
If you’re looking for a lightweight, durable gripper, the Rapala won’t let you down.
Material: stainless steel
Capacity: As much as you can lift!
Berkeley knows fishing, and their Big Game Lip Grip offers design features that really make a difference.
Unlike the many, many copies of the Boga out there, Berkley re-thought the shaft-style gripper. The handle is a pliable, textured rubber that provides a better grip, in my opinion, than EVA foam. Similarly, the actuating ring is a bit wider, providing more purchase for your fingers to open the clamp.
Built from stainless steel, both inside and out, Berkley decided to skip the scale and go with a simple shaft design. The result is bomb-proof durability and a maximum capacity of your strength.
The clamp is going to hold onto any fish you can lift with two arms - it’s that simple.
For big fish and no-nonsense angling, the Berkley Big Game Lip Grip is a great choice.
We’ve tried to avoid duplication on our list, choosing the best of the Boga imitators and skipping the legions of no-name copies. Some are plenty good, but how many do you really need to read up on? We chose the Entsport as the best of the bunch, and we’ll stand by that recommendation.
Similarly, you’ll notice that with the exception of the Rapala, all our grippers are shaft-style, and we didn’t review any of the pistol grip models.
Well, there are some basic design issues with the pistol grip style that have kept them unpopular, and now, they’re very hard to find. BassPro’s model is no longer available for online sale, and Berkley has discontinued theirs.
As far as we can tell, that’s because the junction of the handle and the load-bearing shaft is a weak point that’s darn hard to reinforce properly. The result is that they tend to break when subjected to heavy loads, making them a poor design for their intended use.
A straight shaft may not be the most comfortable shape for lifting a heavy fish, but it’s a very strong design that can take massive loads without failure.
That’s all about the product. What about your hand?
We look for a grippy foam or some sort of grip-enhancing feature. On many grippers, you’ll find an EVA foam, but others, like the Berkley, feature a textured rubber.
Whatever gripper you chose, be sure to check the handle and assess whether it will eat up your hand with a heavy fish on the other end.
You’ll also want to take a close look at the ring that actuates the clamp. How hard is it to work with wet hands?
These questions are one reason the Rapala is popular: it provides a great grip and allows your whole hand to work the heavy spring.
Unless a company offers uncompromising quality--we’re nodding towards Boga here--an incorporated complexity like a scale is likely to be a big fail.
The reason is simple. Val Olinksi, a pro fisherman and expert on fish grippers, explains that "A big determining factor [in the quality of the scale on the gripper] is the cost of the spring.”
To keep the price down, scale spring quality will suffer, as you see on the Entsport.
If you’re looking for maximum durability, then, either pay the price for a Boga or go for a simple option like the Berkley or Rapala.
All three of these grippers will last decades.
Big fish demand tough grippers, and even the awesome Boga 260 has its limits.
Plastic grippers like the Rapala have advantages, but maximum capacity isn’t among them. That doesn’t mean that they’re not suitable for big fish--they are--but I would choose the Berkleys to lift an 80-pound blue cat over the gunnels of my boat, no question.
Be realistic about what you really need, and match the grippers to the size of the fish you’re looking to catch.
While only you can decide which gripper best meets your needs and budget, we can guarantee that every product we’ve reviewed will be an excellent choice if its capacity matches the size fish you intend to catch.
We hope that this article has helped you pick your next fish gripper, and if it has, we’d love to hear from you.
Please leave a comment below!