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Getting the hook out of the fish

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General Fishing Questions

This may seem like a really silly question – but I’m a beginner, so please humor me. What is the easiest way to get a hook out of a fish? Every time I catch a fish I feel like I am handling it too much. I struggle to get the hook loose. Sometimes I really struggle with the barb – and other times, I find the fish has practically eaten my lure and I have to try fish it out. Any advice would be appreciated.

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4 Answers



  1. Richard F. on Dec 14, 2012 Reply

    A needle nose pliers is normally a good option for removing the hook, but if you’re fishing for smaller fish like panfish there are better options.

    First, you could try a pair of forceps, like a surgeon uses. You’ll find them for sale at your nearest tackle shop. They lock down onto the hook so you’ll have more control than a pair of pliers.

    Alternatively, you could try a ‘hook disgorger’. This is also available in tackle shops, and is really cheap. It looks like a pen with a small plastic ball on each end. It helps you to get your line and hook out of the fish’s mouth without getting caught on anything else, and it works like a charm.

    If you’re really struggling, and have no other option, clip the line and leave the hook. Eventually the fish will work the hook out naturally. Leave as little as you can in the fish.

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  2. Best Answer


    Frederick Higgins on Dec 14, 2012 Reply

    It’s definitely not a silly question, please ask anything you want about fishing and I’m sure someone will be happy to help you out. After all, we’re all fishing enthusiasts here, or at least I hope so.

    Anyway, needlenose pliers are a big help in getting hooks out, though a small stick will do in a pinch. If a hook’s really embedded, it may actually be easier to get it out by pushing it slightly deeper first, then gently removing it. However, if the hook is really caught strongly, I’d suggest snipping it off as short as possible rather than ripping it out and causing a lot of damage to the fish. It’ll probably work out in time anyway.

    You might also want to try barbless hooks, which are easier to get out. You can always switch to barbs later when you’re more experienced. Of course, it’s more likely that the fish will slip off the hook if it’s barbless, so you might get a few less catches. But if hook extraction is really busting your chops, it might be best to accept a few less and have an easier time when you do catch a fish. If you still use barbs, pinch them narrower (with your trusty needlenose pliers) so they slip out easier, too.

    You should definitely think about using a circle hook. It’s a lot more survivable and doesn’t gut hook the fish as often. It’ll probably end up in the mouth, where it’s much less damaging and a lot easier to get out.

    Yanking hard on the hook or wrenching it around is pretty sure to do some nasty damage, if you’re doing catch and release (which I’m guessing you’re doing). Again, if the hook is that badly stuck, it’s best to just cut it off and hope the fish eventually spits it out.

    You should also try to remove the hook while the fish is still in the water. Guide it to a pool if you can so it won’t batter itself on rocks or the bottom while you’re removing the hook.

    That’s all I can think of for right now, hope it helps!

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  3. George Flooks on Dec 20, 2012 Reply

    Keeping both a pair of needlenose pliers and forceps in your fishing box will make it much easier to get the hook out of the fish’s mouth. Wearing gloves while doing so will help you keep a much better grip on the fish, too.

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  4. deon d. on Dec 21, 2012 Reply

    Just one more very important tip about removing a hook:
    Before you take the fish out of the water, make sure your hands are wet by dipping them into the water. Fishes have a protective coat of a slimy like substance on them, and this coat protects them from bacteria and disease. As long as your hands are wet with the river water this coating will not be disturbed.

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