Ever tried to bite through your leader? Yeah, me too.
Damaging your teeth isn’t fun. But there is a way around it.
Nippers make life so much easier (and they save your teeth!).
I’ve tried a fair few sets and come up with a list of the best fly fishing nippers on the market in 2021.
I’ll also include a guide to tell you what to look out for, so you can make the best possible choice.
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It’s not often you’ll see something with Orvis printed on the side for this kind of price. When you buy Orvis, you know that you are investing in great quality.
These nippers are simple yet effective.
What makes them so great?
They are constructed from high-grade surgical steel. If it’s good enough for the doc, it’s good enough for us!
The line cutting edge snipper through our test line like a knife through butter, without any resistance. This is exactly what you need in a fly fishing nippers.
The standout feature of these nippers is the comfy grip. When you’ve got wet hands, it is easy to drop your nippers. If you are wading, this can be a disaster. Luckily these nippers have a soft and grippy foam cover that makes them a joy to hold.
You’ll find a solid cutaway section at the rear, ready to mount them on your zinger.
If you are looking at wading, why not head over to my dedicated article? I’ve tried some of the best fly fishing waders out and reviewed them.
I love the soft grip.
Over time the foam can perish a little and get a little dog-eared.
For the money, these top-rated fly fishing nippers are a great deal. They do the job with ease. They’d find a place in my fishing vest pocket any day.
Sometimes you don’t mind spending a little extra to get quality. If this sounds like you, then you are in the right place. These fly fishing nippers work well and are good looking.
Do they make a difference?
Absolutely. Granted, they aren’t the cheapest fly fishing nippers I’ve ever seen, but you can feel the difference in performance compared to a budget model. But why?
Well, for a start, they are made from aerospace-grade aluminum. What this means for you as an angler is that they are supremely light and strong. When it comes to cutting line, it’s almost like the line isn’t there at all. The reason for this is because these mighty little nippers are laser sharpened.
The pin on these nippers is a little unusual. It isn’t located on the back but instead is mounted on the side at an angle.
As quality goes, these are pretty much second to none.
Lightweight, strong, and supremely sharp.
The bright orange color is easy to see.
The only downside is the price. Drop these in the water, and you’ll shed a tear or two.
These nippers might be out of budget for some, but you’ll really be able to feel the quality. You won’t ever need another pair!
You already know I love Orvis. Here is another example of why quality is worth every penny. These nippers might be on the steep side, but they are really powerful. Unlike some of our other nippers, these are like a small pair of pliers with opposing (and very sharp) jaws.
Because you can get the leverage, you will be able to cut through almost anything (even wire).
Is the cost justified?
I think so. Look at what they are made from. The jaws are corrosion resistant military grade T6 aluminum. They are highly unlikely to corrode or degrade.
If they get a little tarnished, the jaws are removable and replaceable. So basically, for a little cost, you could have new pair every season.
High quality and durable construction.
Powerful cutting action.
They are a little heavier and more ‘clunky’ than standard nippers.
For a pair of nippers that feel as sharp as the day they came out of the box and from a quality brand, you’ll find no better nippers than these. I think they are worth the price.
If you are like me and are getting a little ‘long in the tooth’, you may way something really easy to see and use. For the older crowd, one way to achieve this is to make things ‘bigger’.
Allow me to present the ‘Big Nip’…
These oversize nippers are a joy to use, even with tiny flies!
I love the blue rubberized handles. They are easy to see and grip (even with my ‘sausage’ fingers). The jaws’ cutting action is absolutely A1, and they made light work of my 50lbs test line.
One thing I really like is the substantial securing ring on the rear of the nippers. Once attached to my zinger, these nippers weren’t going anywhere.
Because the jaws are so large, it is really easy to get your knot in there and snip it with ease, even in poor lighting.
The oversize jaws make it so much easier to trim your line.
I really like the non-slip finish.
These are bigger than average, so they may not fit in fly fishing vest pouches quite as easily.
For those who have sight trouble or aren’t too dexterous, a bigger set will be a great help. They are reasonably priced and do the job. What more could you want?
For fly fishing vests with dedicated nipper pockets, take a peek at my article here. There’s storage for all your fly fishing bits and pieces.
The Best Fly Fishing Nippers (Buyers Guide)
Nippers are pretty easy and intuitive to use.
So all fly fishing nippers are created equal, right?
Ever heard the phrase ‘buy cheap, buy twice’. Get it wrong with your choice of nippers, and this is exactly what will happen.
However, the good news is that you can avoid ‘the bad’ with a little thought.
Here’s what to look out for to make a top choice in fly fishing nippers…
Ease of Use
This is my #1 criteria when shopping for fly fishing nippers. They can be all singing, all dancing with diamond blades. But if they are difficult to use, then forget it.
What makes fly fishing nippers easy to use?
I find square jaws are a necessity. And the bigger, the better. Nipping off a fly or leader should take less than a second. By having bigger jaws, you’ll have a bigger cutting area, saving time.
You’ll notice in my top fly fishing nipper suggestions that all of them share a common feature. When they are at rest, they are in the ‘open’ position. This is great as you don’t have to do any extra steps to get your line between the jaws.
Fly Fishing Nippers Attachments
Some guys like to have their nippers lose and store them in a pocket. Some guys also like buying fly fishing nippers. Normally these guys tick both boxes.
If you don’t want to be continuously investing in nippers, it is worth making sure they have a decent way to connect them to a cord or zinger. Look for features such as substantial rings or holes that can be clipped in.
It’s rare to find nippers without any other function. At a minimum, I like to see an integrated needle. These are so useful, especially when trying to tie on finer patterns. It only takes a bit of loose feather or cotton to stop you from tying your fly on the line.
These needles are also supremely useful for untangling and picking apart knots. This video here shows a great example of how useful they can be.
I don’t know about you, but handling hooks and sharp jaws with wet hands gives me a little shiver. I don’t want them twisting or turning at the wrong moment. I like to guard against this by making sure my nippers are easy to grip.
Features that make this possible are oversized handles and a good finish. By ‘good,’ I mean some rubber, foam, or a texture.
Just like fishing knives, nippers will go blunt with continuous use. You can replace or sharpen the jaws, but it’s better to reduce the number of times you have to do this.
The choice of material and build quality is what determines how good fly fishing nippers can be. I opt for stainless steel as a bare minimum.
You’ll find more premium products are made with better quality materials. From my suggestions above, you’ll find things such as aircraft-grade aluminum and military-grade metals.
Do I Really Need Fly Fishing Nippers?
I used to be skeptical until I got a pair. After spending months chewing through the line and having no way to remove the knots from my flies, I decided to take the plunge.
Fly fishing nippers do undoubtedly make life much easier. They are a great example of one thing that you didn’t know you were missing until you have a pair.
You don’t need to spend fortunes, but there is a linear relationship between cost and quality. Pick a good pair, and they’ll last you a while.
Trust me, they are well worth it.
The best fly fishing nippers will allow you to clip through the line with ease.
Provided they are of good quality and last a while, they are a really great investment. They also make a great small gift idea.