Fishing pliers are one of the most essential tools  in a fly fisherman’s tackle box – although you may not realize just how much you use them until that day when you forget to take your pliers out with you!
Not only are they ideal for removing hooks (without damaging your fingers), but you can also use fishing pliers to crimp sleeves and leads, open split rings, and cut all types of line. In fact, we’re willing to bet that the more time you spend fishing, the more uses you’ll find for them. Fishing pliers are such an important part of your fishing gear, and will improve your entire fishing experience.
A Quick Guide
These pliers are available from good fly shops, Amazon, and anywhere else that sells fishing gear online too. Here’s a quick guide, and then onto the detailed reviews:
So we’ve established that fishing pliers are among the most important tools fly fishers need – but actually choosing a pair isn’t as easy as it might seem. Before we get onto the reviews, we’ll walk you through how to choose the best pair of pliers, including the most essential features.
There are so many different gear options products on the market, from budget versions (too good to be true?!) to high-end models that cost well over $100 and are meant to last forever (but will they really?).
That’s where our buying guide comes in! Let’s look at what features make the best fishing pliers so good, and what you should be looking for when it comes to buying your own pair.
Then we’ll get onto our gear reviews of the top fishing pliers, including the best products from specific brands, updated for 2019. Plus, we’ll go over the pros and cons of each piece of gear, so you can narrow down your search! Once you’ve got the right pair of pliers, you can improve your fishing experience and take it to a whole new level!
Fishing pliers differ from your everyday tools because they are built to cater specifically to the needs of fishermen, from removing hooks to rigging split shot. However, these products are also carefully designed to be rust and corrosion resistant and withstand a wet environment, so the material needs to be up to the job. And that means something that can provide plenty of strength while being durable in these harsh conditions.
Most modern fishing pliers are made from either aluminum or stainless steel material. Aluminum has the benefit of being more corrosion-resistant and less likely to rust, which is especially important if you’re going to be saltwater fishing.
Aluminum material is also more lightweight than stainless steel. Many brands are using quality aerospace-grade anodized aluminum now for their products, which is a stronger, higher quality type of metal that won’t bend, break, or rust.
Stainless steel, however, is much stronger than aluminum and gives you more power. You’ll be less likely to bend or damage pliers that are built from stainless steel. On the other hand, stainless steel is a material that can rust quickly unless it is coated in a special titanium layer, making steel products less suited to saltwater. You also need to take more care cleaning your tools after every outing.
As well as thinking about material, another important issue to consider is whether or not to go for spring loaded pliers. If you have a spring loaded pair, you can operate it easily with one hand. The spring also means that you don’t have to hold the pliers open the whole time, as the spring will lock the jaws in place. Premium, high quality tools offer this spring loaded feature, but it comes with a price. So if this isn’t a priority for you, you can skip this feature.
Shape of Nose
Pliers come in a variety of shapes and sizes, especially when it comes to the nose, and this is one of the most important features of your pliers. If you’re going to be fishing for big fish, it’s worth looking for models with a longer, needle-shaped nose. This elongated nose is designed to easily allow you to get deep into the fish’s mouth to tackle and tease out any hooks.
Sometimes, a pair of pliers features a split ring tooth on the end of the jaws/nose. If you don’t need to open split rings, you might find that this will get in the way, so go for one of the products that doesn’t have this feature instead.
Weight and Ease of Transport
You never want to be too laden down when fly fishing, so a lightweight pair of pliers is essential, especially for travel. Check the weight of the products you’re looking at and avoid any heavy pliers that will just weigh you down.
Another thing to look for is a protective sheath and lanyard, which allow you to store your pliers safely and close to your body all day, on your belt or fishing vest. The lanyard will stop them from getting lost in the water, and you’ll always know where to put your hands on your pliers quickly when you need them.
Does the model you’re looking at also have a quality line cutter? If so, this 2-in-1 tool will save you space in your tackle kit and reduce the weight you’ll have to carry. Look for line cutters with tungsten carbide blades: These are the top quality, sharpest cutter blades around, suitable to tackle even braided line.
Another of the features to check is whether the line cutter is replaceable. Eventually, the line cutter will get worn down from cutting all that monofilament and braided lines. Replaceable line cutters (and sometimes replaceable jaws too) are handy because it means you can just replace one part rather than buying a whole new tool.
Some products offer both a side cutter and a line cutter. Side cutters come in handy if you need to cut wire or hooks easily, so keep your eye out for this feature too.
You’ll likely be using your fishing pliers with sweaty, wet, slippery hands in all sorts of situations. Therefore, it’s vital that the fishing pliers you can get a good grip on your pliers. You’ll need to buy a quality model that features a good-sized, ergonomic handle and non-slip grip, which is easy to hold and will be comfortable to use all day.
You also want to check that your chosen model will fit comfortably in your hands. Even with the best grip, if you have the wrong size your pliers won’t work well for you. You don’t want a handle that is too small or large for your hands as this will make it difficult to use effectively. Getting the right size from the start will improve your experience.
Compare what the handle and grip are made from, too, and whether it allows you to grip it tightly without any chances of slipping. A smooth handle isn’t ideal, as you’re more likely to drop your pliers or cause an accident. Look for a grip that will create a little bit of friction for a non-slip grip, no matter how long you’re working for.
You might think that these tools must all come in at around the same price, but that’s not true. These tools can range from under $10 for a generic, non-fishing specific model right up to hundreds of dollars for high-end brand names. You might need to pay a little more for saltwater pliers with a titanium coating.
You’ll be happy to hear that for around $20, you can get a great pair of fishing tackle pliers. Although they might not last you a lifetime, they should do you for a good few years, if not longer. If your budget is tight, not to worry: there are some amazingly affordable versions around too.
The Best Fishing Pliers Reviews
MadBite KastKing Aluminum
This handy, reliable tool by MadBite KastKing will serve all anglers well. Designed to be used day or night, they come equipped with an ultrabright light so that you can really focus on what you’re doing – essential for those late night fishing trips!
These pliers are made from high-quality, aerospace grade aluminum that is corrosion-resistant, making them suitable for both freshwater and saltwater fishing. This also makes them lightweight, at just 6.4 ounces, and incredibly strong.
You’ll also find that they have a split ring tool, making these pliers the perfect 3 in 1 tool for cutting fishing line and tackle, adding split rings, and unhooking fish.
The non-slip, ergonomic, silicone grip and handles make sure that this tool won’t slip in your hands, no matter how wet or sweaty you get. A good length at 7.5 inches, they are easy to use, giving you enough room to maneuver. The 3.2 inch jaw length makes it quick and simple to get down into the jaws of a fish to release a hook.
The retractable coil lanyard also ensures that you won’t lose them, even if they fall out of their pouch or you fumble them in the water. Combined with their durable design, this should mean that these MadBite pliers should last you a good few years! These are definitely among the top fishing pliers around right now – check them out for yourself on Amazon. Here are their pros and cons:
Another popular, bestseller option for anglers, these are affordable, versatile, and hardwearing. You can use them to cut fishing lines, take out a hook, and crimp sleeves and leads.
Lightweight and high-quality, this model is built from lightweight, anodized aluminum that won’t rust, with stainless steel jaws, long black handles for grip, and a split ring tip. The entire tool has great strength and durability, so it will stand up to plenty of use. These pliers are coated in titanium, meaning that they will be hardwearing and corrosion-resistant. You can even use them in saltwater!
The jaws are sturdy and spring loaded, so they will stay open without you needing to hold the handle the whole time, in between cutting. As an added bonus, this also means that you can use them with just one hand – very useful when you’re trying to prise a hook from a slippery fish.
The tungsten carbide cutters are incredibly sharp and 100% replaceable. If they wear down, you can just swap in new cutters rather than having to replace the entire tool. You also get a handy lanyard to keep your pliers safe and handy at all times.
This tool is among the top fishing pliers on the market, and you won’t regret buying it. You won’t want to get out on the water without these in your pack!
If you need an affordable pair of plier, you can’t go wrong with this model by Booms. All your needs will be met from cutting braided line to removing hooks. You can also crimp sleeves, rig split shot, and open split rings. Complete with a sharp tungsten carbide cutter feature, you’ll be able to cut through monofilament, braided line, and even single-strand wire.
This model by Booms features a cool design, with black stainless steel jaws, a titanium coating, and a range of color options, including black, silver, green, and blue. They both look and feel high-quality, with spring loaded jaws for easy use. The ergonomic handles are comfortable to hold, and the pliers are well-balanced with good weight distribution.
You also get a steel coil lanyard and sheath included, so you’ll always have somewhere to store them, and you won’t risk losing them out on the water. For a basic, affordable tool, this model by Booms ticks all the boxes and has all the essential features. Buy from Amazon or your local fishing shop.Booms Fishing X1 Aluminum Fishing Pliers Hook Remover Braid Line Cutting and Split Ring with Coiled Lanyard and Sheath
Wolfyok Fishing Pliers
Another bestseller in this category, the Wolfyok fishing pliers will make the perfect addition to any fly fisherman’s toolkit. In fact, this handy -3-in-1 tool should replace your needle nose pliers, flat pliers, and scissors. Whether you need your pliers for cutting monofilament or braiding line, crimping and pressing leads or sleeves, or removing hooks, the Wolfyok needle nose pliers are fit for the job.
Constructed from strong, anodized aluminum, this model isn’t lacking in strength or durability, and you can use them for saltwater and freshwater fishing. They should last a long time without showing any signs of rust or corrosion. When not in use for cutting, they are designed to lock closed for safety, and you can store them in the neat little sheath provided.
As with most versions on the market, you also get a coiled wire lanyard with plenty of stretch, to keep them from falling into the water.
Wolfyok has made a good set of pliers which have a great pair of handles, provide a good grip for working, and are a suitable size for both men and women. You also get a one year warranty in case of damage or breakages.
This KastKing Cutthroat model is another of the best fly fishing pliers, offering versatility, durability, and strength, all at an affordable price.
The Cutthroat tools are made from stainless steel rather than aluminum, making them much stronger and sturdier. Although stainless steel does rust more quickly, KastKing has got around this by coating the blades in a thick, Teflon coating for greater corrosion resistance.
These pliers have been designed to last you a long time: they won’t bend, rust, or break. You’ll be taking them out with you on fishing trips for years to come!
The multi-function jaws have been designed to allow you to take out hooks, rig split shots, or build a steel leader, and even crimping. There are also handy holes in varying sizes to attach your hook to and pull knots tight, saving you time and ensuring you have secure knots at all times.
The sharp line cutter feature is located on the side in a convenient location, and the tungsten carbide cutters are super sharp and strong enough to cut braided line, monofilament, and fluorocarbon.
LastKing have created two different versions: either a split ring version or a straight-nosed version. This is great because a lot of anglers find that the little split ring tooth can get in the way. If you do need to split rings often, the split-ring version should be perfect for you.
Not only are the handles carefully designed with great grips to avoid slips or accidents, but these handles are also a good size for both men and women. If you’re buying for a woman or teen with smaller hands, these are among the top fishing pliers around for size and shape.
This set by ZACX includes both fishing pliers and a fish gripper tool, giving you more for your money. Not only do you get some of the best fly fishing pliers around, you also get a handy fish gripper to make it even easy to prise out those stuck hooks that are deep in the mouth of the fish.
The ZACX tools are made from a rustproof aluminum that has been tested to be corrosion-resistant and impact-resistant. You can use them in both freshwater and saltwater – in fact, they might just be some of the best saltwater fishing pliers available right now.
Included is a useful sheath and lanyard feature, so you won’t lose your tools overboard. The size is perfect at 7.28” with 3.15” jaws, giving you enough length to maneuver and release a hook. You can also use this tool to tie lines, split rings, remove hooks, adjust lures, and more.
The perfect set for any fly fisherman or woman, you won’t regret adding these fishing pliers to your pack for your next trip out to the lake or river. The more you use them, the more uses you will find for them – you won’t know how you ever coped without them!
The Wrap Up
So there you have our complete buying guide for the best fishing plier for anglers and fly fishermen. Having top fishing pliers in your toolkit is essential, as they are so versatile and come in useful in a wide variety of situations – not least if you have an emergency with a hook! You’ll improve your day, knowing that you can remove hooks easily and safely.
The best fishing pliers for anglers are strong, corrosion-resistant, and allow you to both remove hooks and cut braided line. If you’re looking to buy a new pair of pliers, you won’t go wrong with any of our top fishing pliers recommendations above. You’ll just wish you’d invested in some sooner! Without a doubt, having some specialized fishing pliers will ensure you a better experience out on the water.
So drop us a comment or an email to let us know which one you decided to go for, or which fishing pliers you’d recommend to other fly anglers! And don’t miss out on all our other fly gear reviews – we’ll keep you updated on the best gear around!