Extracting a deeply embedded treble hook from a toothy critter can be a major pain in the rear. If you’ve ever had to reach inside the mouth of an angry Muskie or Bluefish, then you’ll know how essential a good fish hook remover can be.
If you’re a catch and release angler, then a fish hook remover will allow you to quickly and safely extract deeply buried fishhooks without harming the fish – giving it a better chance at survival.
Most fish hook removers are also fairly lightweight and compact, making them more convenient than lugging around a pair of steel pliers.
Quick Answer: 5 Best Fish Hook Removers
Why do you need a fish hook remover?
Beyond making hook removal easier, a good fish hook remover will prevent cuts and punctures to your fingertips. Reaching into a toothy fish’s mouth can result in some nasty injuries – which can keep you out of the game for some time.
A gut hooked lure can be tough to remove without the assistance of a hook remover. The added length allows you to reach deep inside the fish’s mouth without harming yourself or the fish. It also means you’ll lose less of your favorite tackle, saving you some hard earned cash.
Spring loaded hook removers allow you to operate them single-handed, which make one-handed hook removal a breeze.
Top 5 Fish Hook Removers
How to pick the right fish hook remover?
Picking the right fish hook remover will depend on the fish species you’re targeting, the hook size you’re using, as well as the environment. Let’s take a look at some of the key features to consider when picking the best fish hook remover for you.
Hook removers come in a variety of lengths, from shorter 8” models to lengthy 13”+ ones.
Obviously shorter models are going to be better suited to smaller freshwater species such as bass, walleye, and trout. Longer models excel at reaching deep inside a fish’s mouth and extracting deeply hooked lures. These are ideal for larger freshwater species like muskie, northern pike, bowfin as well as saltwater fish like halibut, barracuda, wahoo, and bluefish.
One thing to consider is that hook removers with longer shafts can be awkward to use on smaller fish species. The added length can be unwieldy, making hook removal more difficult. If you frequently fish both large and small species, then getting a separate dehooker for each is a smart move.
Most hook removers are made from either anodized aluminum or stainless steel.
Anodized aluminum is lightweight, corrosion-resistant and fairly robust. It can be used around saltwater without worry about corrosion or rust. It’s not the toughest material though, so don’t plan on using one of these as a makeshift prybar.
Stainless steel is tough, substantial, but not totally corrosion-proof. Stainless steel hook removers can be thrown around the boat and abused and will still last for years. Don’t forget to give them a quick freshwater rinse after use to prevent corrosion from forming.
The hook removal mechanism itself is typically made out of stainless steel, but titanium models are also available. The major advantage of titanium is that it’s totally corrosion-proof, but it costs a bit more.
Most hook removers are best suited for removing medium to large sized hooks (#6 and up). Because the spring mechanism is fairly robust, it can be too strong for smaller hooks and can cause them to break. If you’re looking for a tool to extract small hooks (#8 and smaller), then a pair of fishing pliers would work well.
Fish hook removers typically utilize either a T-style grip or a pistol-grip. Both grips are highly effective and can be used single-handed. The choice really comes down to your personal preference.
T-style grips are a bit more compact that pistol grips, so will take up less space in your tackle box. Some anglers believe pistol-grips provide a higher level of precision, but again it really comes down to your personal preferences.
Spring Loaded vs. Solid Piece
Newer hook removers tend to utilize an internal spring to activate the hook removal mechanism, making one-handed operation easy. Older models used a long metal rod with a curved hook at the end, which meant you had to manually pry the hook out. All the models reviewed here are the internal spring-loaded style, as they’re more versatile and easy to use.
Some hook removers come with extra features that can come in handy depending on your situation. Built-in flashlights can be particularly useful for nighttime fishing or any other low-light scenarios. Many hook removers come with some kind of lanyard, allowing you to easily lash them to a life vest or waders.
Q: How to use a fish hook remover?
A: To remove a fishhook from a fish’s mouth or lip, simply hook the end of the hook remover mechanism as close to the fish’s body as possible. Then depress the grips in order to clasp the hook and twist it out the same way it came in.
Depending on where the fish is hooked, you may need to flatten out the barb to get the hook to slide out easily. Keep in mind that barbless hooks are much easier to remove than barbed ones.
If a fish is gut hooked and you’re unable to get to the hook, then cutting the hook or line as close to the fish’s body as possible is the best option. This will allow the fish to eventually spit out the hook, minimizing the chance of serious injury and death.
A good pair or fish grippers can come in handy when you’re trying to hold a fish still and remove a hook.
Shark photo courtesy of Florida Fish and Wildlife. Source.