Practical tackle


Standard unhooking tools are not up to the task of removing lures from pike. Mostly this is because of the size of the hooks involved. Even small lure hooks are larger than those used for bait fishing, and forceps cannot get a sufficiently strong grip to lever the hooks, especially if two points of a treble have taken hold. A pair of long nosed pliers is a far better bet as the jaws of these will not twist out of alignment when you are turning hooks. Buy the best pliers you can afford, cheap ones have a tendency to rust and can be made of a very soft metal, little stronger than forceps. Two pairs are worth having, one longer than the other. Use the shortest pair you can get away with as they provide the greatest leverage. Having two pairs of pliers also ensures that you have a spare. Deep water has a magnetic attraction for heavy objects! I have heard that filing a slot in the jaws of your pliers improves the grip they offer on the hook, and intend to try this myself.

One tool that is well worth investing in, and which I use more and more frequently is the Baker Hookout. The trigger operation of the Hookout gives exceptional grip, and its 10" length and slim profile make it easy to work inside a pike's mouth with. A tool that I find little need for with crushed barb hooks, but carry just in case, is a pair of sturdy wire cutters. Mine are actually small bolt croppers, well able to cut through the thickest hooks if necessary. Buy decent quality cutters, it is always money well spent. Cheap cutters are made from inferior materials and often fail completely to live up to their name when it comes to the crunch - this is another lesson that I, and others, have learned the hard way. I tested my cutters at home on a spare hook, and didn't wait until the need was urgent to discover that the cutters wouldn't do the job. At a pinch you can sometimes use the cutting part of your unhooking pliers to cut up hooks. Another case where good quality tools have the edge over cheaper ones. It is always far better to cut a hook to free the lure rather than prolong the unhooking procedure, and there is no excuse for ripping a hook out of a pike.

My unhooking tools are carried about my person, or in one of my lure carriers so they are always instantly to hand. The Hookout slips nicely in a tube of a plug pipe. A belt with appropriate holsters would be a nice idea - fine nosed pliers soon poke their way through pockets! A protective case is not a bad consideration for sharp nosed tools like pliers and scissors.

Fine nosed pliers. Baker HookOut. Small bolt croppers.

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