Field & Stream Online Editors

I’m addicted to fishing pliers. Not just any old pair of toolbox pliers, and not the latest 121-blade multitool. I’m talking about fishing pliers, made specifically for removing hooks, cutting monofilament and wire line, mashing down barbs, and many other tasks that fishermen have to tackle when they are out on the water.

I bought my first “fishing pliers” 40 years ago when I was living in Florida, plugging the St. Lucie River and Lake Okeechobee for bass and throwing jigs and plugs in the salt for snook, trout, bluefish, and Spanish mackerel. They were standard toolbox needle-nosers and probably cost $3. I carried them in a pants pocket attached to a belt loop with a piece of heavy monofilament. When they rusted shut, I bought another pair. In those days, I went through a lot of pliers.

Fishing pliers have come a long way over the years, and I’ve bought almost every new model that’s been introduced. Research, you know. Some corroded almost as quickly as my old needle-nosers and were discarded. Others were deep-sixed because the cutters dulled up and chipped. And, of course, I’ve dropped more than a few pliers overboard, lost others on riverbanks and in salt marshes, left them in motels and fishing lodges, and watched them bounce into the wake when a bass-boat jockey mashed down the throttle and went airborne. I’ve even flipped several pairs of expensive fishing pliers into the water when trying to clear a piece of monofilament from the cutters by waving the pliers in the air. But I’ve faithfully replaced all lost or discarded fishing pliers, and today, my collection runneth over. I’ve got them stashed in tackle bags and boxes, tucked into wader pockets, fly vests, and foul-weather gear, and squirreled away in my truck, my desk drawers, and my belly boat, canoe, and outboard boat.