Of all the tools in any angler’s kit, it is perhaps the humble pliers that are the unsung hero of any day by the water.
A good pair can make the difference between a successful fishing trip, and a nightmarish one.
But as there’s so many options to choose from, it can be a challenge finding the right set.
So, I’ll do the hard work for you and narrow it down to the 14 best fishing pliers of 2021. Regardless what you’re using them for, there will be one that’s right for you in the review below.
A buyer’s guide and FAQ section will follow.
Let’s dive in.
Disclosure: At BonfireBob, we recommend products based on unbiased research, however, BonfireBob.com is reader-supported and as an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases if you shop through the links on this page. For more information, see disclosure here.
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.
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 damn expensive.
KastKing offer some hugely popular fishing equipment options so it wasn’t going to be long before they got in on the act. I’ve gone for their Cutthroat model, seven-inches of perfect pliers that are made from corrosion-resistant stainless steel with a Teflon coating.
The multi-use, long nose has tungsten carbide cutters built in – which can slice through monofilament, fluorocarbon, or braided line with ease. An ergonomic, textured rubber handle is just what you need in slippery conditions, and the thin profile allows easy use with one hand.
Very highly rated.
Lanyard and sheath included.
Removable cutting blades.
Choice of split-ring or long nose options.
If you find one let me know.
Another outstanding piece of hardware engineering, this affordable tool from Kastking is deserving of a place up there with the best stainless steel fishing pliers on the market.
If you’re on a much tighter budget, you might want to check out this pair of pliers from Booms Fishing. It’s a great little tool that also comes with a handy six-inch fish gripper, so you can keep a hold on a slippery catch that’s trying to get away.
Made of stainless steel with a rubberized handle, they have a split-ring head, crimping jaws, braid and line cutter, and a fish hook remover.
And considering how highly rated they are, this isn’t a bad bundle at all when you look at the price.
Fish gripper a nice inclusion.
Cutting blades are non-removable.
Not the most durable pliers out there.
A great option if you’re looking for affordable, serviceable pliers with a handy fish gripper thrown in. I just wouldn’t expect them to last as long as more expensive versions.
Made with aircraft-grade, anti-corrosion aluminum, these split-ring pliers from San Like offer plenty of quality features for the angler.
Ideal for use in fresh and saltwater, they’re protected against rust and oxidation, with spring-loaded, stainless steel jaws for extra strength.
Tungsten carbide cutters will handle all kinds of line – including braid, while the wave-shaped anti-slip handle design offers a firm grip and ensures operation is a breeze.
Choice of colors – including camo.
Lanyard and nylon sheath.
No way of locking the pliers closed.
A decent tool for the price that might not be the best saltwater fishing pliers of 2021, but they’ll get the job done. The fact they’re always open unless in the case might become a bit annoying, though.
Okay, so I know they’re not a dedicated fishing tool, but damn it 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.
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’re hardly taking up any room in one of these amazing fishing vests. In spite of their stature, they’re tough and durable, with 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.
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.
Another set of quality fishing pliers offered at an affordable price, you can have all the tricks of the trade up your sleeves without breaking the bank.
Made from tough, durable 6061 stainless steel with the addition of a weatherproofing Teflon coating, the Plusinno pliers are eight inches in length, with the “big four” tool functions featuring in the nose.
The tungsten cutters will make short work of any line and are fully removable for when they need resharpening or replacing.
Choice of black or gray finish.
Ergonomic, non-slip handle.
Coiled lanyard and custom-molded sheath.
Clamp not as strong as other brands – but it’s not a deal breaker.
A solid pair of fishing pliers that will easily grace the tackle and kit of most anglers out there. They offer a nice, weighty heft with a slim profile, and the stylish sheath is a nice touch.
At 7.5-inches in length with two-inch jaws, these stainless steel fishing pliers are a good size for most angling uses.
And they pack in plenty of useful features, with corrosion-resistant aluminum and titanium nitrate coating for extra longevity and protection against the elements.
But aside from all the usual refinements, perhaps the best thing about these pliers is the Bubba Blade patented non-slip grip. Quite possibly the best grip on fishing pliers there is, these things will practically stay stuck to your hand even when wet.
Solid, durable construction.
Removable cutting blades.
Sheath and lanyard.
A little more pricey than equivalent tools.
The nose might not be long enough for some.
No split ring feature.
A rugged, tough, and durable tool that’s been built to last and handle most fishing uses. It’s just not designed to be the best split ring pliers for fishing lures or getting deep into the mouths of long, toothy beasts.
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 bear hand grip offers you unbeatable control and precision.
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.
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.
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.
If you want the very best, then there is a chance that you are going to have to shell out a bit.
Case in point. The Orvis pliers.
Orvis says these are the best fishing pliers on the market. Do I believe them?
There is quite a lot to like, even if it seems a little steep for what is literally a pair of pliers.
Here’s what I mean.
They are pretty lightweight and super comfortable to hold. The curved ergonomic handles fit really nicely in hand. Orvis has made these lightweight and completely corrosion resistant by using type III military-grade aluminum. If it works for the army, it’ll definitely work for you!
One neat feature about these pliers is the jaws. They are manufactured from Crucible CPM S53VN… The long and short of it is that they are incredibly tough and hard-wearing.
Let’s say the impossible happened, and you did put a chip in the jaws. Don’t worry. They are entirely replaceable.
The pliers come with a high-quality embossed leather sheath and an unbreakable lanyard, so you’ve got plenty of storage options.
There’s the potential for lots of tears if you lose them.
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 Best Fishing Pliers for You
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 protecting 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.
You should ask yourself how important weight is when it comes to choosing the right pair of fishing pliers for your needs.
While it’s not a deal breaker for many anglers, others do prefer something that is going to be as light as possible when added to the rest of their kit. It adds up after all.
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.
This is where you will need to decide if split ring or flat nose pliers are for you. And it depends on what you’re using the tool for.
As a rule of thumb, though, 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 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. Taking a step up, and they should be able to snip copolymer and fluorocarbon line, but 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.
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 when it will eventually be required.
Thankfully, the vast majority of the pliers I’ve included in the review above will tick all these boxes.
Another vitally important part of the make-up of fishing pliers (or any pliers for that matter), the grip should be comfortable and easy to hold.
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.
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. 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.
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 a 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?
Meh. 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 2021, 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.