When fishing in catch and release areas, one needs to be able to unhook the fish and return them to the water unharmed.

What tool(s) would be useful for this?

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The best tool I have found for this is a Hemostat.

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Source

They are long and thin, enabling you to reach in and get to fishhooks that are deep inside and can be locked onto the hook.

It's also really easy to carry them when fly fishing, you simply clamp them onto your fishing vest and then they can be opened with one hand.

These are way better and lighter than plyers and

  • Definitely useful when catching small pan fish. The curved versions are also good. – B540Glenn Sep 13 at 15:20

Charlie Brumbaugh's answer is definitely the way to go for smaller fish such as panfish or trout. However, for bigger fish such as northern pike or musky I go with a longer (12-16"/~30-40 cm) pair of needle nose pliers as seen below.

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Photo source: www.ebay.com

I prefer to use either the middle option, with the slight bend, or straight option on the right because the more curved option on the left can put your wrist in an awkward position if they decide to try to roll. Many times I'm able to just reach over the side of the boat with these and never even have to touch the fish. As an added bonus I do not need to get my fingers anywhere near their teeth.

  • Do those have a special name? At least in my experience needle nose pliers are different from what you have pictured – Charlie Brumbaugh Sep 13 at 23:57
  • If they do I'm not sure what the names are - if you're talking about the curved tips. I posted this picture simply because it was the best one I could find with all three options I've used. I usually just get the cheapest pair I can find at the hardware store because I've lost some to the bottom of lakes when they start thrashing around. – wanderweeer Sep 14 at 0:00
  • This is what I usually think of needle nose pliers as homedepot.com/p/Stanley-5-in-Needle-Nose-Pliers-84-096/… – Charlie Brumbaugh Sep 14 at 0:28
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    @CharlieBrumbaugh: It may just be a very broad term - a google image search does not seem to make that distinction. This Wikimedia commons site shows the broader version as "basic needle nose plier" - commons.wikimedia.org/w/… – wanderweeer Sep 14 at 1:12

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