Fishing pliers are one of the most important tools for any angler. But not every pair of pliers is the same, and neither is every angler. This is my guide to the best fishing pliers for saltwater, freshwater, or both, every weekend or every now and then.
Keep reading for the guide I created on how you can choose the best fishing pliers for your individual needs, as well as my top six picks for the best pliers available.
Summary: Best Fishing Pliers
- Teflon-coated stainless-steel body
- Textured ergonomic grip
- Replaceable tungsten carbide cutters
- Multi-function jaws
- Anodized aircraft-grade aluminum
- Titanium-coated stainless steel jaws
- Tungsten carbide cutters
- Spring-loaded handle
How to Choose the Best Fishing Pliers for You
Anyone who has ever tried to catch a fish can tell you that a fisher is only as good as their equipment. And of all the tools in your tackle box, fishing pliers are probably the ones that you use the most. There’s a reason that every pair of pliers comes with a lanyard and holster.
If you’re new to fishing, buying for someone else, or just want an overview of the options before buying, I have you covered.
Why Do You Need Pliers When Fishing?
Fishing pliers might be one of the most versatile tools in your kit because they can handle everything from hook removal to repairing equipment. Additional reasons to keep a good pair of fishing pliers handy include:
- Cutting a line or hook
- Crimping sleeves and leads
- Knot tightening
- Opening stubborn split rings on the lure
Of course, not all pliers offer the same versatility or function.
Can You Use Regular Pliers for Fishing?
Since fishing pliers resemble many types of general-use pliers, you could technically use them for fishing. However, fishing pliers usually have special features, like cutters and crimping jaws, that regular pliers don’t have.
Features and Options to Consider
Speaking of fishing pliers’ special features, let’s talk about some of the factors you might want to consider when selecting the right pair for your needs.
Most quality fishing pliers are made with anodized aluminum or stainless steel. While you could fork over some serious cash to secure a pair of titanium or exotic alloy pliers, they don’t offer much extra protection against corrosion.
Stainless steel is an alloy made with chromium and usually coated with titanium or Teflon so that it holds up well against rust and corrosion. Saltwater anglers may prefer the heavier, stronger stainless steel options.
Aluminum might not be as strong, but it does have the advantage of creating a much lighter tool. Since aluminum is not naturally corrosion-resistant, manufacturers generally treat it with a special anti-rust coating. Aluminum fishing pliers will probably last longer with freshwater fishing than saltwater, but only if you dry them well to prevent rusting.
Note that some manufacturers opt for a combination of stainless steel and aluminum to get the best of both worlds. You may find that a hybrid arrangement gives you more versatility and durability.
Nose Length and Type
Fishing pliers have jaws, serrated edges for gripping, like regular pliers. They also have two basic nose types, straight-nosed (also known as flat or needle nose) or split ring.
Straight-nosed pliers suffice for most people unless you regularly work with split rings. That said, in saltwater or deeper open-water fishing, where you’re using different kinds of hooks, you will be glad you had a pair of split ring nose pliers. Fixing or changing a treble hook on the boat or in the water is not something you’d want to do without them.
Line and Side Cutters
Another place where fishing pliers truly shine is when you need to cut a line. While you could easily use a knife or a pair of line-cutting scissors, it’s another tool you need to tote around. Picking up a pair of fishing pliers with built-in cutting capabilities can save you space and time.
Cutters can either be on the side or inside the jaws of the pliers. I prefer the side, but I have fishing buddies who like the other way. It’s just a matter of preference.
Keep in mind that not all cutters can handle all types of fishing lines. Most fishing pliers can cut through monofilament (single-strand nylon) just fine. However, if you use braid or fluorocarbon (a stronger synthetic material), you need something sharper like tungsten carbide cutters that can slice through just about anything.
Bonus Tip: Look for a pair of pliers that have replaceable cutters since all blades, no matter what material, will get dull at some point.
Handle and Grip
Like any other hand tool, you probably want something that will feel comfortable, especially with repeated use. Most modern fishing pliers have ergonomically designed handles, but that doesn’t mean they all feel the same.
I like a little thicker handle and prefer a textured rubber grip for a little extra comfort and padding. Plus, they tend to stay put instead of slipping around in my hand, especially if I’m on a weekend trip and am going to be doing a lot of prep and detail work.
Lanyards can save you on and off the water. If you drop the fishing pliers when you’re leaning over a dock or off a boat, you won’t be left high and dry. The two most common lanyard styles are coil (works like a spring or the cord on a landline phone) and retractable (which works like a leash that can be let in and out).
If you narrowed your choices down to a few products and can’t decide which pair of fishing pliers to pick, there are a few more features that could help you decide.
- Spring-loaded handles allow pliers to open back up when you release your grip, so you can use them with one hand
- Locking mechanisms on the handle can be convenient at times
- Some products come with sheaths or holsters that you can attach or clipped onto your hip somehow for easy access. Lanyards clip to either the holster or a belt loop
The most important part of choosing a pair of fishing pliers is how you feel about them. Pick the pair that meets your needs, fits in your budget, and feels good in your hands.
Top Six Fishing Pliers Reviewed
There are a lot of products on the market, so it can be overwhelming if you just search for “fishing pliers.” To help you get started, I compiled a list of my favorite fishing pliers across a range of categories.
KastKing is a popular name for delivering solid fishing gear, and these pliers are no exception. These pliers are some of the most versatile on the market and work for both freshwater and saltwater fishing.
Breaking down these pliers is like a dream list of features. You get the corrosion-resistant, Teflon-coated stainless steel construction that makes them significantly harder and stronger than aluminum alternatives.
Then, move on to the multi-functional serrated jaws that feature multiple crimping slots and the side-mounted, replaceable tungsten carbide cutters. Don’t forget to check out the textured rubber handle with a thinner grip profile for comfort and functionality.
There’s not much to complain about with KastKing’s Cutthroat fishing pliers. They won’t break your budget, they’re comfortable to use, and you can choose from several colors if that matters.
- Teflon-coated stainless-steel body is strong, durable, and resistant to rust and corrosion
- Textured ergonomic rubber grip won’t slip out of your hand and is comfortable to use
- Extremely sharp carbide side cutters will cut mono, fluoro, or braided fishing lines
- Cutters are fully replaceable
- Available in several colors: seafoam, black, or orange
- Choose needle-nose or split ring
- Approved for freshwater and saltwater use
- Attractive mid-range price point
- Sheath is underwhelming, and the belt clip doesn’t hold up
- Takes a bit to cut through some lines
- May be too small for larger split rings
If you seek something lightweight and functional, Piscifun’s Aluminum Fishing Pliers may fit the bill. They are some of the lightest on the market, and you can choose between two lengths to ensure you get the best fit.
These multi-purpose fishing pliers include multiple features to cut lines, crimp sleeves, crimp leads, and remove hooks. At the tip of the jaw, you even get a small claw for handling split rings.
For a value product, there’s not much compromise in function with these highly-rated pliers. These pliers keep a low profile, feature a lanyard, and feel nice in your hand.
- Anodized aircraft-grade aluminum with anti-corrosion handles
- Titanium-coated steel jaws with split-ring tip
- Spring-loaded handle keeps pliers open
- Fully replaceable tungsten carbide cutter easily cuts through most lines
- Coiled lanyard
- Two size options: 7.1 inches or 7.87 inches
- Appealing color selection: black and silver, blue and silver, or solid black
- Comes with a one-year limited warranty
- Included sheath needs a serious upgrade
- May not hold up long for serious anglers
- Might not fare as well for saltwater fishing
Though the KastKing pliers edged these out for saltwater fishing, Booms Fishing X1s have a lot to offer in a reasonably priced package. You get a sleek design with multi-functional jaws and many of the other desirable features. However, a few shortcomings knock it down the list.
The aluminum handles make the pliers lighter than you might expect, but they may be too large and awkward for some anglers. Further, while you can choose between three colors, there’s only that one size option. Also, unlike the KastKing fishing pliers, you can’t replace the blades when they are too dull, so that means picking up a new pair.
- Durable, corrosion-resistant stainless-steel jaws
- Stainless steel side-mounted anvil cutters even cut through braided lines
- Spring-loaded handles for single-handed use
- Lightweight aluminum handle
- Slightly bigger and stronger than most pliers
- Extremely strong steel wire coil lanyard
- Exceptional manufacturer’s warranty guarantees any broken parts
- Large handles may not work well in smaller hands
- No locking mechanism
- Cannot replace the cutting blades
Looking at the price point, you may wonder how these fishing pliers qualify as the best value. Look a little closer, and you may notice that this is a package with extra tools and one of the better sheaths on the list. This is also one attractive tool!
When you choose these aluminum ZACX fishing pliers, you get a spring-loaded handle that’s hollowed out to make it even lighter. You get a multi-functional jaw designed to handle even the harshest saltwater conditions. Plus, it comes with a fish lip gripper with an EVA foam handle.
- Super lightweight aluminum body
- Ergonomic handle
- Crimp and press leads
- Replaceable cutters
- Also comes with a fish lip gripper, sleek lanyard, and durable sheath
- Some quality control issues reported
- May not be as durable as other options
- Might be too small and light for larger hands
Calmus crafted another lightweight, multi-functional option at a reasonable price point. Though it sounds much like others on the list, the A7s feature some slightly different components.
The company chose to upgrade the corrosion-resistant aluminum with Vanadium blades and a rubber handle. Since Calmus applies an e-coating to the entire tool, not just the blades, it can hold up a little better against heavy use. Plus, you get a safety lock on the handle, making it an excellent choice for beginners and those teaching younger anglers.
- Lightweight aluminum, E-coated to protect from corrosion in saltwater
- Locking mechanism on the spring-loaded handle
- Sure-grip rubber handle
- Vanadium steel cutters cut through almost any line
- Cutters and jaws replaceable
- Coated coil lanyard and custom-molded sheath
- Select straight nose or split ring nose
- Choose from four color options: blue, red, or seafoam
- Needs a longer, thinner tip
- Cutters may not last as long as some other brands
- Low-quality sheath needs an upgrade
Everybody needs to learn somewhere, and these pliers work well for beginners. Like other fishing pliers on the list, this one features some of the basic elements you want, like cutters, crimping slots, and a fish gripper. The stainless steel construction makes it a sturdy, durable choice without sacrificing comfort in the rubberized, anti-slip design.
It’s easy to use, clean, and carry. The lanyard and sheath keep the pliers secure and close by, though they aren’t top of the line by any means. Plus, you can’t beat the price for a starting tool.
- Multi-functional stainless steel jaws are corrosion-resistant
- Textured and rubberized anti-slip handle
- Spring-loaded handle makes it easy to use with one hand
- Lightweight for smaller hands
- Features a hook lock for safety
- Excellent price point for newbies and young anglers
- May not last as long as higher-end pairs
- Lanyard needs an upgrade
- Jaws feel tight and need some work to loosen up
What Are the Best Pliers for Fishing?
It’s clear that choosing a solid pair of fishing pliers could be one of the best choices you make before your next trip. There are several factors to consider before choosing one, but you may want to start with freshwater or saltwater options.
Best Saltwater Fishing Pliers
The best saltwater fishing pliers are the KastKing Cutthroat 7 inch Fishing Pliers because they are comfortable to use, multi-functional, and even feature replaceable cutting blades. You can choose from several options, including the type of nose you prefer. Plus, they are saltwater approved and hold up well against the elements.
Best Freshwater Fishing Pliers
However, if you spend more time in freshwater, you may want to look at the Piscifun Aluminum Fishing Pliers because they are lightweight and versatile, with many of the same features as the KastKing. While they may not hold up as well with saltwater fishing, they function well for freshwater use. Plus, they come in at an excellent price point.
When it comes to choosing the best fishing pliers to meet your needs, consider where you spend most of your time, how you like to fish, and what feels good in your hands. Some factors may not matter as much, like the sheath, but it may be a way to narrow your search.