Field Test: High-Performance Fishing Pliers for Under $50

Not even pliers can escape the high-end craze of today's tackle industry, with plenty of $350 models available to accompany those $900 reels and $600 rods. And while such bombproof, titanium tools might be nice to own, we figured there had to be some high-quality pliers out there for under $50. Here they are.

The Test

Design: I evaluated each plier for size, weight, comfort, and available features.

Construction: I took them ice fishing in winter and used them on open water in early spring, purposely treating them roughly to test durability.

Performance: I tested each model's ability to handle all the chores that a good pair should by removing an array of hooks, changing studs on cleats, opening split rings, crimping connector sleeves, and testing the cutters on a variety of lines from 10-pound braid to 130-pound fluorocarbon.

The Results

Berkley Aluminum Pliers

Specs: Anodized aluminum frame; stainless-steel jaws; 7" long; 4.2 oz.
Design: Excellent
Construction: Excellent
Performance: Excellent
Bargain Rating: Excellent
Comments: I couldn't find a flaw.These pliers are truly outstanding for the price. Comfortable in the hand, the lightweight body is anodized aluminum; the jaws, including a split-ring opener and a crimper, are stainless steel. The line cutter made quick work of everything from 10-pound braid to 130-pound fluorocarbon, and both the tether and the sheath are well made.
$49.99; berkley-fishing.com

Mustad Kevin VanDam Aluminum Pliers

Specs: Anodized aluminum frame; titanium-coated stainless-steel jaws; 7.5" long; 5.5oz.
Design: Good
Construction: Excellent
Performance: Good
Bargain Rating: Good
Comments: Mustad's KVD pliers were the biggest and heaviest model of the bunch, which I found to be a plus for comfort. Having the line snips on the outside made it easier to cut line, which these did perfectly. If they had a split-ring opener and a crimper like the others, I would have liked them a lot more.
$39.99; mustad.no

**
P-Line Adaro Jr. Aluminum Pliers**

Specs: Anodized aluminum frame; stainless-steel jaws; 6.5" long; 3 oz.
Design: Good
Construction: Excellent
Performance: Good
Bargain Rating: Good

Comments: You get a lot of functionality in a small package--including a split-ring opener and a crimper--but the size and shape of the Adaro Jr. was not the best fit for my hand. The line cutter on the outside was a plus. Although these struggled a bit with 130-pound fluoro­carbon, they got the job done and had no issues with any other line.
$36.99; tackledirect.com