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What to Look For in Fishing Pliers – A Quick Guide
Before we get into the reviews of the best fishing pliers, let’s take a look at some features and factors you will need to consider when making your choice.
Materials/durability – we all like quality products that are built to last.
Weight – lightweight tools won’t get you down.
Nose length/type – flat nose or split ring? Long or short?
Line cutting capabilities – what kind of fishing line is it capable of snipping?
Grip – very important in wet and slippery conditions.
Rustproofing/corrosion protection – metal and water don’t mix well – do your pliers stand up?
Storage/carrying options – look for pliers with a pouch or lanyard.
Cost – budget is nearly always a factor when choosing the right product.
So, while musing over all the points above, here’s a list of my top three fishing pliers that offer the most balanced, well-rounded user experience.
The Piscifun aluminum fishing pliers are packed with quality features, and boast an astonishing amount of good reviews. And at this price, they’re up there with the best choice on the market.
Made from super lightweight, corrosion-proof titanium, this Van Staal option will probably be the only fishing pliers you’ll ever need. And that’s a good thing, considering how eye-wateringly expensive they are.
The KastKing Cutthroat fishing pliers are also very highly rated, offering durable tungsten carbide cutters, and a Teflon coating for corrosion-proof defense.
To explore these picks in more detail, plus a whole host of further fishing plier options, check out our full review, below.
Anyone who has ever fished a day in their lives will have heard of Van Staal. The premium fishing gear company manufactures some seriously high-end stuff, and this set of titanium pliers is certainly no exception.
Once your head stops spinning at the price, you’ll understand just how much quality has gone into making this super-lightweight, corrosion-proof, world-class tool with extra-tight grip technology and tungsten cutting anvil for even the most stubborn of lines.
The spring-loaded holding power is outstanding, with a silky-smooth action and line keeper.
And with a rating of 60 on the Rockwell Scale – these things are going to outlast YOU! This isn’t a set of pliers – it’s a way of life.
Premium (and I mean premium) quality.
Lanyard and carry pouch.
Will last a lifetime.
Do I even need to mention it?
The perfect gift or investment for the fisher person in your life who has just about everything else, they would be the best fishing pliers in the world if they just weren’t so damned expensive!
Simms are renowned for their world-class fishing gear and equipment, and the Guide pliers are no exception.
Made from high-quality aluminum, they are super-lightweight and yet extremely powerful.
With a tungsten carbide cutting blade, they’ll slice through just about any line available, while the corrosion-resistant, 17-4 stainless steel jaws are designed to last in fresh and saltwater conditions.
The unique construction offers a smooth, accurate action, and there’s even a bottle opener and beveled notch for tightening knots.
Name to trust.
World-class design and construction.
Highly durable and corrosion-resistant.
Hard sheath included.
Lightweight yet super strong.
Not always available/sold out.
Yes, they might be pricey, but the Simms Guide pliers have some outstanding reviews from anglers who can’t believe they went as long as they did without picking these up. Buy once, cry once, as I always say.
Ideal for most fishing situations, the Elite model from Rapala is a very well-designed tool that should be perfect for most anglers. I can’t fault it, and it’s a great mid-range option for your tackle box – especially if you can snag one on sale.
Okay, so I know they’re not a dedicated fishing tool, but I do love my Leatherman.
With so many designs, styles, and tool variations out there, I’ve gone for the Wave Plus – which is the best Leatherman for fishing on the market.
These things need little introduction, so I’ll be brief in general. They’re built to last, with plenty of combinations to suit anglers, homeowners, campers – or just about anyone who is always reaching for something that can do something.
I never leave home without it, and it’s simply an awesome, all-round tool to have in your fishing box.
Quality brand, design, and manufacture.
Heavy–duty sheath included.
Replaceable wire cutters.
Not dedicated fishing pliers.
No split ring hook.
Nose will be too short for most anglers.
Alright, so most serious anglers will probably have one of these and a proper pair of fishing pliers anyway, but it’s well worth the inclusion for the quality, durability, and all the neat stuff you can do with it.
Cheeky by name and by nature, these blink-and-you’ll-miss-them fishing pliers are super-lightweight and compact.
With a very low profile, they would hardly take up any room in one of these amazing fishing vests. In spite of their stature, they’re tough and durable, capable of handling fresh and saltwater conditions, and featuring replaceable HSS cutters and stainless steel tips.
Marketed at fly fisher people, weighing just 1.8 ounces, they’re a great addition to your kit the next time you’re crafting lures, and have been built to last a lifetime.
Intricate nose for fine control.
As compact as they come.
Pouch and connecting lanyard.
Ergonomic, no-slip handles.
Might be too small and light for some users.
Designed for rivers, lakes, and streams and probably the best fly-fishing pliers on the market, this is a super-compact and lightweight tool that you’ll barely realize is there until you need it.
Also offering an attractive set of pliers, the P-Line Adaro are simple, stylish, and effective, and look super-smart in a choice of red, silver, or blue finishes.
Made from high-quality aluminum, the tungsten carbide line cutters can easily chomp through 500 lbs of nylon or braided line, with an ultra-smooth operation and hold-open spring.
The tool as a whole feels weighty and satisfying in the hands – without ever being heavy – and a nylon belt pouch with a long lanyard cord is included, so you don’t lose them or drop them in the water.
Attractive look and feel.
Choice of colors.
Not the best grip by a long shot.
Some anglers report they’re a little on the large side.
Perhaps the main gripe about these pliers is that smooth finish on the handles, but other than that, this is a stylish addition to anyone’s fishing kit.
Based out of Portland, as an outdoor tool brand, Gerber is a household name.
Their innovation and engineering know-how dates back 70 years, and these fishing pliers are a prime example of that experience and quality.
Beautifully designed, they’re finished with a corrosion-resistant coating, while the carbide cutters will handle all types of line in their removable blades.
The needle-nose tips offer extra reach to get right inside a fish mouth, while the bare hand grip offers you unbeatable precision. And that trigger-finger design is a really nice touch for extra control in slippery situations.
Name to trust.
Durable quality throughout.
Exchangeable outboard fasteners.
Off-axis angle improves line-of-sight.
Holster and lanyard could have been better at this price.
Gerber produces some of the best outdoor tools in the business, and this is an excellent example of that, designed with the saltwater angler in mind.
Another pair of fishing pliers that uses the tried and trusted aircraft-grade aluminum construction. The Calamus A7 has been finished with E-Coat corrosion protection to keep it in pristine condition for as long as you take care of it.
Offering split ring nose, crimper, Vanadium blades to cut any line, and heavy-duty, rubberized handle with safety lock – there’s a lot to like here.
Not only that, but they offer an attractive aesthetic that smacks of quality.
And with all the features you need in a fishing tool at an affordable price, this is a solid option.
Lanyard and pouch included.
The locking handle is a great touch.
Great choice of colors.
The tip could have done with being a little longer and thinner.
Not the best sheath.
It was hard to find fault with these excellent fishing pliers from Calamus, and for the price you could do much worse. You might want to think about upgrading the pouch before you lose them, though.
As far as budget-friendly fishing pliers go, this offering from Eagle Claw just might be the best option out there.
Finished with a corrosion-resistant, micro-satin finish, they’re designed to stand up well in all fishing conditions, so rust and deterioration can be kept at bay.
Users rave about the excellent control the grip provides, which is ideal when you’re around slippery fish, and the slim, multi-function nose is practical and versatile.
And don’t let the cheap price fool you – these come highly rated by dedicated anglers, and are perfect for anyone looking for quality on a budget.
Easy-to-see handle design.
Comfortable to use.
No good for cutting braid.
Offering a lot of bang for your buck, these affordable fishing pliers from Eagle Claw won’t break the bank. Sure, they might not last as long as a $300+ set, but for casual weekend anglers – or someone just starting out – this is a great choice.
Orvis claim that these are the best fly fishing pliers on the market, and they might well have a point, as there’s a lot to like here.
Lightweight and super comfortable to hold, the curved ergonomic handles fit nicely into the hand, with a top-quality look and feel that you’ll get a kick out of using.
Made from type III military-grade aluminum, they’re completely corrosion-resistant, and if this material works for the army, it’ll definitely work for you!
The cutters and jaws are replaceable, but considering they’re made from a highly durable form of stainless steel – it’s unlikely this will need to happen anytime soon.
Tough, durable construction.
Comfortable to hold and use.
Built to last.
Shorter plier nose.
On the expensive side.
Alright so, they are a bit steep. But cost aside, they are really good as fishing pliers go. I love how light and strong they are, and they are really comfortable to use. If you are the kind of guy (or gal) who fishes with nothing but the best, this could be a great investment.
How to Choose the Right Fishing Pliers
Below, you’ll find a handy guide on what to look out for when navigating the minefield of choosing the best fishing pliers for your needs.
Fishing pliers can be made out of a variety of materials, including machined aluminum or titanium for high-end pliers, to stainless steel models.
Some have been treated with additional coatings, such as Teflon, for extra protection and to improve longevity.
For the most part, keen anglers are going to want something that’s made out of a tough, rugged, and durable material, so it won’t break easily, go out of alignment, or allow corrosive damage to take hold.
If you’re looking for something super-strong, search for fishing pliers that are made out of hard-carbon stainless steel. You can be sure they will take a beating and you will never even know it.
For lightweight options, go with aircraft-grade aluminum.
But the very best pliers will use a combination of materials to really nail the design and performance, offering a nice balance between weight and durability.
Nobody likes tools that are too heavy, and so weight is important when looking for the right gear to include in your kit.
Even relatively compact and light tools can easily add to the load you’re already carrying.
While it’s not a dealbreaker for many anglers, others do prefer something that is going to be as light as possible when added to the rest of their kit.
Look for pliers that are made from aluminum/titanium over stainless steel if you really want the lightest tool you can find.
And check out this review of the best fishing backpacks, as many have a dedicated strap or carrying pocket to store and transport pliers – no matter the weight.
In this department, you have two main choices:
Flat nose or split ring.
But which is the better option?
It depends on what you’re using the tool for.
As a rule of thumb, if you’re not working on split rings or rarely use them, then flat nose pliers are perfectly adequate.
But remember, the more functions that feature on your pliers, the less you’ll need to clog up your gear with extra tools.
Make sure that your fishing pliers have quality crimping jaws in the nose that offer good tensile strength for gripping and crimping build leaders, split shot weights, and other fishing-related uses.
Additionally, there is a school of thought that split ring pliers greatly assist in hook removal (a lesson that I happen to very much agree with) so that is also something you should bear in mind.
And pick up a set with a generous nose length for getting into all those nooks and crannies – particularly if you’re fishing saltwater, as those critters can have teeth.
Not all pliers can cut all kinds of fishing line. The frustration of discovering this when you’re on the water is real, and not to be underestimated – it’s happened to the best of us.
Most pliers will be able to cut monofilament line at the very least.
Taking a step-up, next level pliers should be able to snip copolymer and fluorocarbon line.
After that, and unless otherwise stated, you might be faced with an uphill struggle when it comes to braid.
Make sure you’re fully prepared for that eventuality by having a set of pliers that are capable of cutting anything they can get their teeth into.
Or, at least, the bare minimum that you use when you’re fishing. If you don’t use braid, you don’t need pliers that can cut braid.
Also, it’s a good idea to find a pair of fishing pliers that allow the blades to be removed for convenient sharpening or replacement as and when required.
Thankfully, the vast majority of the pliers I’ve included in the review above will tick all these boxes, as even the most durable jaws and blades will need replacing eventually.
Another vitally important part of the make-up of fishing pliers (or any pliers for that matter), is the grip.
These tools should be comfortable and easy to hold, without the fear or risk of slipping out of your hand.
Look for over-molded handles with rubberized or textured covers to provide the best possible comfort and control. Thermoplastic rubber is ideal as it offers unbeatable grip in wet conditions without holding any odor.
But don’t go too large – many household or classic tool-box pliers have giant handles, and this grip profile is too big for the fine control you will likely need when you’re fishing.
A non-slip grip is essential to preventing slipping accidents, especially as you’re going to be around water and/or when your hands are cold.
And speaking of, check out these excellent fishing gloves which can be really useful additions to your kit, and seriously help you to get a grip!
The very best fishing pliers will have superior rustproofing and corrosion protection as standard. This is particularly essential if you’re fishing in saltwater – as that stuff ruins everything.
Saltwater is not a tool’s best friend.
Look for fishing pliers that have been specially treated to protect them against the elements, as aside from misuse, this is the number one cause of ending a tool’s life prematurely.
Pro-tip – even if your pliers claim to have the best corrosion protection available this century, always wash your tools in a little freshwater afterwards – and be sure to dry them with care.
Let’s be honest, if you’re going to spend a fair bit of coin on good fishing pliers, and they don’t come with its own pouch (at the very least), then something is amiss.
Good tools should have protective covers or pouches to help them last longer and maintain performance.
Likewise, a lanyard is equally helpful when you’re in the field/on the water, as you don’t really want to be dropping even the most durable of tools.
Especially if there’s a risk that it might go overboard.
The cost factor of a product has rarely been more important than when it comes to fishing pliers.
This is for the simple fact that you can purchase high-end models that will set you back hundreds of dollars, and super-cheap versions that will only be a couple of bucks.
So, a word of caution – you don’t need to spend a fortune on this tool.
But you should never purchase something that’s in a bargain bin either.
Decent fishing pliers are available at around the $20 mark, but high-end tools can be over $300.
If you want to splash out for the very best product available, made with cutting edge technology – that’s perfectly up to you.
Just don’t go too far the other way – you will seriously regret it when the rot sets in, they’re not properly aligned, or they couldn’t cut a piece of string.
Top tip – buy the best you can afford, relative to how much you’re actually going to use it. Then you won’t go far wrong.
What are fishing pliers used for?
Fishing pliers are mostly used as a hook removing tool. However, they’re so versatile they can be applied in multiple situations and scenarios to help you out.
They can also be used for crimping, cutting fishing line, fashioning lures, fixing bait, or even removing anything a fish might have swallowed.
What they should NOT be used for is a better question – and the number one answer to this would be – as a hammer.
How to use fishing pliers?
There are multiple ways in which you can use fishing pliers, and to explain them all might well take several articles.
Check out the video below for one example of how to use split ring pliers to replace treble hooks.
How to take care of fishing pliers?
Great question – taking good care of your pliers will ensure they last you for years to come.
Regardless of if you’ve been saltwater fishing or not, get into the habit of always cleaning your pliers with freshwater when you get home. Use a steel brush/wire wool, and then rinse and dry them thoroughly.
Then, it’s always a good idea to add a light coat of oil to keep the tool operating at peak performance with a silky smooth action.
Once in a while, give them a blast of an anti-rust, lubricating spray, such as WD40.
Store your pliers in a clean and dry environment – and always use the pouch or bag provided. Don’t throw them naked back in with the other tools – you wouldn’t like that, and neither do they.
What are the best fishing pliers?
You’ll have to decide the answer to this question yourself from the products in the review above. It really is subjective and depends on personal preference.
But the best fishing pliers will be durable, sturdy, with multiple tool options and capable of cutting through braided line.
They also need to be fully corrosion-resistant – especially if you’re fishing in saltwater.
And don’t forget – they need to fit with your budget.
How do you use split ring pliers for fishing lures?
A question that’s much easier to explain visually, so watch the video below for a guide on how to use a pair of fishing pliers for adding split rings to lures.
Where are Van Staal pliers made?
Premium fishing company Van Staal offers high-end fishing products that are pretty much the top of the food chain – and the most expensive as a result.
Van Staal has component manufacturing facilities in China, but pliers will be put together in the US.
Can you use any pliers for fishing?
You can give it a go if you like – it’s certainly better than nothing.
But dedicated fishing pliers are a fisher person’s best pal. You will never see pro anglers leave home without them.
I heartily recommend not cutting corners on this one – the benefits of owning a pair of proper fishing pliers are numerous.
And you will come to regret it if you try and soldier on with any old pair of tool box pliers.
You can spend as much or as little as you like when trying to find the best fishing pliers in 2020, as prices can vary wildly.
So too can the quality.
I hope this guide has helped you sort the wheat from the chaff. Just remember to never go too cheap on this tool – buy the best you can afford.
Let me know which product you’ve gone for and why.