Every time I’ve forgotten my fishing pliers, I’ve regretted it immediately. Pliers are an essential angling tool, and the range of tasks for which they’re perfect is almost endless.
Need to clip hard-to-cut line? Check.
Need to remove a deeply embedded hook or mash a few split shot? Check and check.
Need to clip a hook, cut a steel leader, or flatten a barb? Check, check, and check.
A good pair of pliers is as important an accessory as you can imagine, and every angler needs one. We’d like to help you select the right option for you, and as simple as this seems, a lot of the available choices are less than perfect. So keep reading--below, you’ll find our buying guide and reviews of some of the best.
Quick glance at the best fishing pliers for freshwater and saltwater
|KastKing Cutthroat 7” Fishing Pliers||Teflon coated stainless steel/tungsten carbide||7”||Yes||Yes|
|Booms Fishing X1 Aluminum Fishing Pliers||Aluminum/tungsten carbide||7.87”||Yes||Yes|
|Myco FP-8 8||Stainless steel||8”||No||Yes|
|Piscifun Aluminum Fishing Pliers||Aluminum/titanium coated stainless steel/tungsten carbide||7.1”||Yes||Yes|
|Rapala Salt Angler's Pliers||Nickel-coated stainless steel||8.5”||Yes||Yes|
Table of Contents (clickable)
Related: Best Hook Remover
The manufacturers’ attention to detail makes for a good pair of fishing pliers.
Chances are, the pliers you have in your toolbox or garage are made from carbon steel. That’s because carbon steel is relatively inexpensive and easy to machine, keeping costs low. And for most applications, it’s an excellent material.
But moisture is death to a carbon steel tool, and I’ve seen them rust shut in no time when bathed in salt spray. I don’t care about the cosmetic effects of oxidation, but when the pliers lock in position and can’t be moved--that’s a problem!
You need to look for pliers made from corrosion resistant materials like aluminum and stainless steel. Each has strengths and weaknesses worth considering
Aluminum is a relatively soft metal usually alloyed with another substance to improve its strength. Common alloys include copper, magnesium, manganese, silicon, and zinc.
The chief advantages of aluminum are low weight and unparalleled corrosion resistance.
But the disadvantage of aluminum is its weakness. To work well, it needs added teeth and grippers made from something hard, often tungsten carbide, which is also extremely corrosion resistant.
Stainless steel is essentially carbon steel with added chromium to produce a corrosion resistant alloy.
The chief advantages of stainless steel are low cost and high strength. Much less expensive to manufacture than aluminum, you can find good stainless steel pliers at budget prices. And since stainless steel is strong, it’s perfectly suited for gripping and cutting on its own.
The primary disadvantages are heavy weight and moderate corrosion resistance. Stainless steel is much heavier than aluminum, and while it can stand up to the salt, without care, it will oxidize over time.
For most fishing, blunt-nosed pliers won’t get it done. If you’re reaching down the mouth of a marlin--ok--blunt pliers are fine. But you can’t try that same trick with crappie!
Good fishing pliers are ‘needle-nosed,’ meaning that the business end is long and slender, allowing you to reach deep into a fish’s mouth to retrieve a hook.
While it’s not a good idea, you can use your teeth to cut light mono--just expect a trip to the dentist when you chip a tooth! Fingernail clippers and anything else sharp is more than up to the task, however.
But with heavy braided line, you need something very sharp and very hard, and nail clippers won’t get the job done.
Instead, I like to use fishing pliers with a sharp cutting blade, whether that’s tungsten carbide or stainless steel.
If there’s one thing that drives me crazy about most fishing pliers, it’s that they’re designed to cut line and not much else.
I’ve needed to cut steel leader, and I’m sure many of you have, too, especially if you fish pike and other toothy fish.
And unfortunately, at some point, you’ll hook yourself. If it’s shallow, no big deal; the hook is easy to back out. Check out this video for an awesome technique that works with single or treble hooks:
Don’t ask me how I know that!
Another thing to look for is spring-loading. With a spring to push the pliers open, they’re much easier to use.
This is a feature I really like to see in a good pair of fishing pliers, and a few minutes in the hand will reveal why! You’ll soon discover that having the pliers spring open makes them very easy to use one-handed.
Great pliers provide a comfortable, sure grip even when your hands are covered in fish slime, blood, or water. If they can’t do that, all the features in the world aren’t going to be very useful.
It’s happened to all of us--some important piece of gear gets bumped or dropped, and into the water it goes. When it’s something essential, the day’s fishing might just be over.
Play it safe and look for pliers with a lanyard.
Material: Teflon coated stainless steel/tungsten carbide
KastKing’s Cutthroat Fishing Pliers are about as close to perfect as you can get. 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 salt water, 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. KastKing recommends tightening knots by inserting the hooks through eyes drilled in the jaws. That seems a bit much to me, but your mileage may vary.
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. Reasonably-priced, this is our top pick for a pair of fishing pliers.
Material: Aluminum/tungsten carbide
Booms Fishing’s X1 Aluminum Fishing Pliers are a great addition to any angler’s gear. Pretty much impervious to corrosion, that’s one worry you won’t have if these are your choice.
The X1’s frame is nicely shaped aluminum, supplemented by tungsten carbide at the points where pressure, strength, and durability are important. They provide plenty of grip, as the teeth are far harder than the hooks they’ll be holding. With crimpers, cutters, and a ring spreading tip, you’ll have the tools you need ready-to-hand.
I like the placement of the cutters, which are at the rear of the mouth as on standard pliers, and these cut heavy braid well. When they dull, it’s no sweat to use a rod or file to bring an edge back, too. But don’t expect to cut heavy wire leaders or hooks--the cutter’s just not up to that job.
For me, that’s a problem, and if you regularly use wire leader or tieable wire, I’d probably give the X1 a pass.
The handles are an excellent shape, but slimy hands may have some trouble on the exposed metal. The good news is that these pliers are spring-loaded, making them easy to use. And since they also offer a lanyard hole and an included clip lanyard, you shouldn’t have any trouble losing them to the deep.
Material: stainless steel
Myco’s stainless steel fishing pliers demonstrate the old maxim that more isn’t necessarily better. Indeed, this simple design is obviously drawn directly from standard needle nose pliers, and that’s not a bad thing at all.
These pliers will undoubtedly stand up to salt water if care is taken to rinse them after each use. That’s a no brainer with any tool that sees salt, and not something I see as a drawback.
Their grippers are plenty toothy, providing an excellent grip on hooks. That, combined with their narrow profile, makes them an excellent choice for reaching deep and for small species of all kinds, crappie to croaker.
The cutting blade is toward the rear of the mouth, where you’ll find it on standard pliers. It’s not the sharpest out of the box, but a few licks with a ceramic rod or file should give it plenty of edge, and since this kind of maintenance is to be expected, I’m fine with that. Cutting braided line, leaders, and small hooks is then no challenge.
That’s no small thing, as the need to cut wire leader or small hooks isn’t theoretical, and many of the tungsten carbide cutting blades just aren’t up to that task.
The Myco’s handles feature aggressive cut-outs to provide better grip, but this is the weakest aspect of this otherwise excellent tool. Slimy hands will struggle for purchase, and you’ll need to be mindful of your grip. And especially since you won’t find a lanyard attachment, you’ll need to be careful not to drop them overboard.
That said, the addition of a spring makes this tool easy to use for most tasks.
Finally, the price of these pliers makes it easy to have more than one, and they’re affordable on any budget.
Material: Aluminum/titanium coated stainless steel/tungsten carbide
Piscifun is a trusted name in fishing accessories, and their Aluminum Fishing Pliers go a long way toward illustrating why.
Piscifun’s pliers offer an aluminum frame, making that part completely resistant to corrosion. But as we mentioned above, aluminum isn’t tough enough for grippers and cutters, and to provide that strength, they turn to two more robust materials.
The first is titanium-coated stainless steel. By adding a thin layer of titanium to an already corrosion-resistant material, you get that much more protection. Piscifun uses this combo on the grippers, providing no-nonsense traction for the teeth as well as a sufficiently hard material to easily crush lead sinkers or open a closed ring.
At the very back of the mouth of these pliers, you’ll find two cutting blades made from tungsten carbide. These are plenty sharp enough for heavy braided line, but for heavier wire, we’d give them a definite pass. You might get away with it a few times, but they’re just too fragile for that task.
The machined aluminum handles on the Piscifun pliers are pretty good, and deep finger wells help you hold your grip. It will get slick if your hands are, but overall, they handle pretty well, especially since they’re spring-loaded.
There are two great lanyard options on the grip formed by the last pair of holes, and this excellent pair of pliers comes with a nice coiled lanyard of its own.
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. Probably my top choice if I’m working with wire leaders or need to clip a hook, for general use, the Salt Anglers leave a bit to be desired.
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, no sweat.
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.
Pliers are an essential angling tool, but you don’t need to spend a bundle to get good results. KastKing’s Cutthroat Fishing Pliers are an excellent option for both salt and freshwater fishing, offering an unbeatable combination of performance and price.
Made from durable Teflon-coated stainless steel with tungsten carbide cutters, you can rest assured that corrosion isn’t going to be a problem. As with all tools exposed to salt, I’d give them a quick rinse after you get home, but they’ll stand up to significant abuse.
The jaws are well designed, affording a host of tools, and in a rarity among most fishing pliers, these can cut wire, though I recommend the Rapala Salt Angler’s Pliers if this is something you do regularly.
The Cutthroat also offers a fantastic handle design, a lanyard, and a spring, all of which go a long way toward making an excellent tool.