Sometimes, removing a hook can be simple, and it’s easy to pluck it right out. But when you’ve really buried a single hook, need to pull a treble hook free, or have a hook set too deep to reach with your fingers, the right tool is essential.
And anytime you’re dealing with big, bad fish like pike, blues, or sharks, getting your fingers anywhere near those sharp teeth is a terrible idea.
If you’re in the market for the right tool to remove hooks, we’ve got you covered.
Below, you’ll find an in-depth buying guide as well as reviews of some of our favorites:
Best Fish Hook Removers
Table of Contents (clickable)
Material: stainless steel
Length: 11 ½”
Booms Fishing manufacturers what many anglers consider the best hook removers money can buy--which is saying something since the price of these is very, very reasonable.
The R1 is 11 ½” in overall length, providing plenty of distance from sharp teeth. Spring-loaded, its handle is an all-steel pistol grip that’s easy to use when you’ve got a struggling fish on the deck.
The teeth are aggressive and grip well, and the design of the handle makes the application of considerable force no sweat.
Booms Fishing uses a very corrosion-resistant stainless steel for the R1, and in my experience, a rinse and occasional squirt with WD-40 keeps everything working well.
If you have small hands, this might not be the model for you, however, as the reach required to actuate the jaws is not particularly short.
I should add, too, that the R1 is stamped, leaving some rough edges on the lower side. For the price, this is to be expected. But I’d recommend a quick pass with a file or some aggressive sandpaper to round-out these occasionally sharp bits.
Length: 13 ⅗”
CrazyShark’s hook remover is the older style, employing a hook rather than gripping teeth. Simply slip the hook at its tip over the hook you want to remove, squeeze the grip, and you’ve got a firm hold and plenty of power.
Made from aluminum, the shaft of the CrazyShark comes in a rainbow of colors, making it easy to see and just as easy to find. Aluminum simply can’t corrode, so rust is never an issue, but I’d still give this tool a squirt or two of WD-40 from time to time to keep it moving easily.
Not quite as easy to actuate with one hand as the Booms Fishing R1, the CrazyShark is nevertheless pretty easy to use when you’re struggling with a writhing barracuda or shark.
It’s plenty long, too, at 13 ⅗” in overall length, and if you’re shy about teeth, you might prefer this one to the R1.
Material: Nickel-coated stainless steel
Rapala is a household name in fishing, and it’s no surprise that they produce an excellent pair of fishing pliers.
Rapala builds this tool from nickel-coated stainless, providing pretty intense corrosion resistance to an already robust material. That’s a good choice for hard use, and I’d trust the pliers to take a beating in salt- or freshwater.
This is a pretty basic design--just a slightly modified ordinary needle nose. You’ll find a crimping tool, plenty of tough teeth, and a solid cutter at the rear of the mouth. Where these bad boys shine, of course, is in cutting wire leader material or popping a hook in two. If you find yourself in need of either option--and plenty of anglers do--these are worth a solid look.
In fact, for fishing with steel leaders or tieable wire, these would be the pair I’d recommend.
The handle is excellent, providing a firm grip through the addition of a plastic cover. You’ll find two nice lanyard holes there, too, but no lanyard included. That’s not a big deal, but something to keep in mind nevertheless.
These pliers are spring-loaded, making them very easy to use one-handed.
Material: Teflon coated stainless steel/tungsten carbide
KastKing’s Cutthroat Fishing Pliers are a great option for serious anglers. Made from tough, durable materials, they offer fantastic performance at a reasonable price.
KastKing has chosen to manufacture the Cutthroat from Teflon-coated stainless steel, making them quite durable and tough. The Teflon-stainless combination works very well to prevent corrosion from saltwater, and I really like this material choice because steel is so much more durable than aluminum when really pressed to work hard.
Like many fishing pliers, the Cutthroat features two tungsten carbide blades on the outside of the mouth, allowing you to cut heavy braid easily. A rarity among the competition, they will do a reasonable job on wire, too. They probably wouldn’t be my first choice for the task, but they can get the job done.
The jaws offer plenty of teeth, providing an excellent grip, and you’ll find crimping tools and a split ring tip there as well.
The handle is coated in a nice rubber grip that I prefer to bare metal. I think I get a surer purchase on these pliers than I do with the competition, and the spring-loaded hinge ensures easy one-handed use.
Finally, there are two excellent positions for the included lanyard.
The Rapala’s are a bit longer, though, and they’re better for cutting wire and hooks.
Material: stainless steel
Length: 5 ½”
Mabis’ kelly forceps are a great tool for anglers. Constructed from rugged surgical stainless steel, they’re inexpensive, light, and compact.
Given their initial application, you can count on these hemostats to shrug off corrosion like a champ. This pair offers teeth that were intended to grip and hold on blood vessels, and you can count on them to snatch a slimy, bloody hook with no trouble.
I use a nearly identical pair for trout, and they’ve never let me down.
Hook removing tools are one-trick ponies. With a super long shaft, they provide the reach and safety to remove a stubborn hook from fish like pike, shark, and gar without getting your fingers where you might lose them.
Powerful tools for the job, they’re most at home in the salt, where species with sharp teeth and bad tempers are most common. But I’ve used them for pike and gar, and wouldn’t relish the idea of removing a hook with anything shorter when I’ve got a mean fish good and angry!
When I’m buying a new pair of hook removers, I look for:
While freshwater can be tough on metal, saltwater is pure murder.
I like to see materials like anodized aluminum and stainless steel, and I still recommend a thorough soak in freshwater when you get home!
A very long shaft
How long the shaft needs to be is up to you and your comfort level, but for me, longer is almost always better.
A good grip
Two styles of grip dominate the market: the old-fashioned T-grip and the newer pistol grip.
Both have advantages and disadvantages.
T-grips are compact and fit easily into tackle boxes, but they can be a bit harder to use well.
Pistol grips are easy to actuate with one hand, but they do take up a bit more room.
Overall, I prefer pistol grips, and I think most other anglers do as well.
Strong, sharp teeth or a hooked design
Hook removers are typically reserved for larger hook sizes, as they’re too big--and too strong--for the smaller stuff.
And when you’ve buried a strong hook in the jaw of a shark or tuna, you need a lot of power to break it free. Strong, sharp teeth allow you to get a grip that lets you really work on the hook, and without excellent teeth, a hook remover is pretty much worthless.
It’s important to either find a hook remover with stout teeth or to use one of the older hook-style systems. These allow you to slip the removal hook over the fishing hook before clamping them down, providing a sure-fire grip every time.
For most anglers, a good pair of fishing pliers are the best choice.
Not only do you get multiple tools to help you smash split shot or crimp a wire leader, but you also typically have a great cutting tool and hook remover all in one.
Pliers are great multi-tools, and I don’t know many anglers who don’t carry them.
But they do have two weaknesses as hook removers. First, they don’t offer the slim reach of hemostats for smaller fish like trout. And second, they put your hands in harm’s way with toothsome predators like gar and shark.
When I buy a pair of fishing pliers, I’m looking for:
A rusted pair of pliers can be so hard to actuate that they’re useless, so as tempted as you might be to use that nice pair of needle-nose pliers in your shop, I’d resist and go for the right tool for the job.
Look for stainless steel or aluminum.
A nice long nose
You need the reach a long nose provides, especially when you’ve got a hook stuck deeper than you intend.
Fish slime is pretty much the enemy of grip, so look for a pair of pliers that provide firm grip even when your hands are filthy.
A cutting tool capable of clipping a hook or wire leader
I like pliers that have a cutting blade that can really work, and sometimes, the only option to save the fish is to cut the hook. Look for pliers that can do the work you need, especially if you chase species that demand a wire leader.
While not essential, a spring-loaded action makes a pair of pliers much easier to use.
I don’t fish for any smaller species--panfish, trout, smallmouth bass--without a pair of stainless steel hemostats.
With an extra-long, slender nose and locking jaws, I can reach as far down as I need to retrieve a fly or spinner that’s been swallowed, and they can do double-duty for tasks like smashing split shot.
Hemostats are at their best with fish that don’t have teeth, as the handle and reach still get your fingers too close for comfort.
They’re also not the multi-tool pliers you bring to the water, but as pure hook removers, I think they’re slightly better.
When I select a pair of hemostats, I’m looking for:
Hemostats are going to take a beating on the water, but the good news is that these repurposed surgical tools are typically constructed from stainless steel.
When you’re pushing on a stubborn hook deep in a fish’s mouth, the last thing you want is a slip.
I look for hemostats with sharp, tall teeth that really bite my hooks.
I find that hemostats that include a ratcheting grip--allowing them to lock closed at varying degrees of tightness--can help when a hook is well and truly stuck.
If you’ve ever struggled to remove a hook, whether because it was too deep to reach or too stuck to budge, you know how valuable the right tool for the job can be.
We hope that this article has helped you pick the right option for your needs, and as always, we’d love to hear from you.
Please leave a comment below.