After trying to grab several large fish by their lips – and several bloody thumbs – I finally got around to buying a fish gripper. Man, are these things handy!
Way back in the day, before the invention of fish grippers, anglers were forced to use their bare hands or a pair of pliers to hold a fish while removing the hook. That resulted in plenty of dropped fish – as well as the occasional treble hook buried in someone’s unlucky thumb. The invention of fish grips changed that forever.
The locking mechanism on fish grips allows you to securely clamp onto the bottom lip of any fish while keeping a safe distance from sharp teeth, hooks, and spiny fins. This not only keeps your fingers safe, but it’s also less likely to harm the fish.
The other major advantage of using a fish gripper is less fish lost due to wriggling or thrashing. The locking mechanism works exactly like a pair of vice-grip pliers. No matter how much the fish thrashes around, it’s not getting free from the clamp. When you want to release the fish, you simply depress the handle lever. This causes the locking mechanism to disengage and the fish to swim free.
Fish grippers are particularly useful for kayak fishing, as they are easy to use one-handed and compact enough to stow almost anywhere.
Quick Answer: 6 Best Fish Lip Grippers
- Best Overall: Eastaboga Tackle BogaGrip
- Best Floating Plastic Gripper: Yak Gear Fish Grip
- Best Electric Scale Fish Gripper: Piscifun Fish Lip Gripper with Digital Scale
- Budget Pick: Entsport Fish Lip Gripper
- Best Pistol Grips: IdealHouse Fish Gripper
- Best Big Game Fish Gripper: Berkley Big Game Lip Grip
Types of Fish Grippers
T-style Fish Gripper
T-style grips are the original style of fish grips. First used in the BogaGrip, they are now found in grips made by many other manufacturers. Mostly made from aluminum and stainless steel, they are the most heavy-duty grip available, which makes them useful for handling large, heavy fish. Many T-style grips come with a built-in scale – either digital or mechanical – which allows you to weigh the fish on the fly.
Floating Plastic Gripper
Floating plastic fish grips are a great low-cost choice, and are especially popular with kayak and fly fishermen. Their plastic construction makes them super-lightweight, and of course they float on the water’s surface should you happen to drop them. While not as heavy-duty as T-style grips, many larger grips are rated for fish up to 50 lbs. As long as you’ve got the muscle the grip can handle it!
Ergonomic and comfortable, pistol grip style fish grippers are easy to use and won’t fatigue your hand. These grips are shaped similarly to a pistol, with a trigger to release the locking mechanism. They aren’t as heavy-duty as T-style grips, but many anglers like their easy-to-use shape and trigger mechanism.
6 Best Fish Lip Grippers
Using Fish Grips
Using a fish gripper is a great idea for any angler who regularly practices catch-and-release fishing. Grips allow you quickly and safely secure a fish while you remove the hook, weigh it, and maybe snap a quick photo. Not only will they keep your hands from getting cut up, but they also protect the fish’s vital slime coat.
If you regularly catch-and-release fish, then also consider a pair of fishing pliers. These will make removing a deeply buried hook a breeze, as well as assist you with cutting line, opening split rings and crimping barbs.
When snapping a photo of your fish with fish grips you can hold it vertically or horizontally with your spare hand supporting its belly and tail. Check out my detailed guide on how to hold and handle bass for more useful tips.
Featured image courtesy of Virginia State Parks – Source
I’ve loved being in the outdoors for as long as I can remember. I grew up fishing, canoeing, and camping throughout the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. It’s what lead me to start this site and share my passions for fishing, diving, kayaking and more. Nowadays you can find me writing about my passions or (preferably!) preparing for my next outdoor adventure.