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: NOEBY Fishing Lip Grip
- 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 – Reviews
The original and still the king, BogaGrips were the first fish grips ever developed. Designed back in 1993 by machinist and fisherman Charles Champ, these grips are often imitated but never duplicated. While they cost considerably more than other fish grips, they are built like a tank and worth every penny.
Constructed in the USA out of solid stainless steel and acetal thermoplastic, BogaGrips are built to thrive in the saltwater environment. Many users report their grips working perfectly 10+ years after purchase. Unlike cheaper models, these grips won’t need to be replaced every few years due to parts failing or rusting.
The built-in scale is one of the most accurate and reliable scales on the market. It’s so accurate it regularly wins first place awards for fishing scales by the IGFA (International Game Fish Association). You can even send your BogaGrip to the IGFA where they will certify it for world-record catches.
Another outstanding feature is BogaGrip’s 360-degree rotating head. This allows a thrashing fish to rotate while the grip is locked onto its lip. The fish won’t torque your hand or injure itself, and the grip stays safely locked into place.
- Superior stainless steel and UV-resistant thermoplastic construction
- Can withstand heavy saltwater usage
- Reliable scales are accurate to within ¼ – ½ Lbs.
- Mechanically superior locking mechanism keeps fish in place
- Available in 3 sizes: 15 Lbs. scale, 30 Lbs. scale, and 60 Lbs. scale
Best Floating Plastic Fish Gripper
These well-made plastic and stainless steel grips are a great lightweight option and work especially well for kayak and wade fishing. Costing less than 15$ and weighing just 5 ounces, getting one of these to throw in your boat or tackle box is a no brainer!
Available in glow in the dark and high-viz colors, these grips are easy to spot, plus they float if dropped in the water. They also come with a wrist lanyard which is very handy for one-handed operation. The plastic construction ensures you won’t harm the fish’s lip, unlike some cheaper metal grips which can puncture the lip.
There’s no built-in scale, but a weight scale slot is included, which allows you to attach a scale and deduct 5 ounces. The weight capacity is rated to 50 Lbs, so unless you catch a leviathan you should be good!
- Available in high-viz and glow in the dark colors
- Grips float in case you drop them
- Lightweight and inexpensive
- One-handed operation works great for kayak and wade fishing
Best Electric Scale Fish Gripper
Accurate and easy to use, if you’re looking for the convenience of an electric scale with the durability of metal fish grips, these are the grips for you. The grips are 100% waterproof, work in both salt and fresh water, and every scale has been tested with a 5-minute immersion test. They’re also great for night fishing, as the screen has a powerful back-lit LCD.
A 360° swiveling handle allows you to easily rotate the display for a better viewing angle. It also ensures that a spinning fish won’t damage the grips or injure itself. There is also a memory mode, which allows you to save up to 10 weight readings for later. Very convenient for tournament anglers!
- Large easy to read back-lit LCD screen
- Works great for night fishing
- Waterproof and tested for 5-minute immersion
- Handle swivels 360°
- Can save up to 10 weight readings for later
At less than 15$, the Ensport is an excellent budget fish gripper. Its design is similar to the BogaGrip (some people might call it a knock-off) but it works well and the price is right. Made from corrosion resistant stainless steel, the grip can handle saltwater usage, but be sure to rinse it off with fresh water before putting it away.
A mechanical style scale is engraved into the stainless steel, but it’s a little hard to read, and won’t be as accurate as more expensive models. If you’re buying a grip to use as a scale, I would look elsewhere.
The gripper’s weight capacity is 15 KG (33 Lbs), so it’s suitable for pretty much any type of fishing. The handle is made of comfortable non-slip EVA foam, and there is a nylon wrist strap to keep it securely on your wrist.
- Great budget priced fish grip
- Suitable for all kinds of fishing
- A scale is included, but it’s a little hard to read
- Similar design to the top-rated BogaGrips
Best Pistol Grips
This handy folding pistol-grip is great for small and medium-sized fish. The ergonomic aluminum handle is comfortable to use and the trigger-style grip mechanism is simple to activate one-handed. A convenient coiled lanyard and nylon sheath comes included, so you can keep it handy on your belt.
The all-aluminum construction means you can use it around saltwater without worrying about corrosion. To deploy the gripper, all you need to do it flick it open like a pocketknife. It’s rated up to 110 lbs – so unless you plan on catching a whale, you’ll be good to go!
- Ergonomic and comfortable folding pistol grip
- Comes with carrying sheath and coiled lanyard
- Easy to use single-handed
- Rated up to 110 pounds
Best Big Game Fish Gripper
Burly and substantial, these fish grippers were made for one purpose – and one purpose only. Handling large fish. They don’t have an included scale, measuring tape or any other frills. That’s ok though, that’s not what they’re meant for.
The stainless steel construction is rock solid, and the studded rubber non-slip grip may be the best available on the market. Built to withstand saltwater and freshwater, this grip can handle years of heavy use. There is no weight limit listed, but it’s safe to say theses grips can handle any fish you’re likely to encounter.
At less than half the price of a BogaGrip, it’s also an excellent deal. The only drawback this grip has is the head doesn’t rotate, but that’s fairly minor.
- Heavy-duty construction will last for years
- Can handle large fish
- Studded rubber grip handle is excellent
- Good value
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.