Pliers are a necessity in any basic angler’s gear bag. These are also one of most under-emphasized tools that an angler needs during their fishing trip. Whether you are fishing for barracuda, permit, tarpon, pike, musky, golden dorado, or toothy brown trout the need for a good set of pliers goes beyond cutting, rigging line or taking hooks out of fish.
A good pair of pliers should be durable, functional and feel good in hand. Pliers should also be user friendly, able to be deployed quickly and used with ease. Being quick to pinch the fly, remove the hook, and release a fish back to the water will greatly impact the chances of that fish’s survival.
Over the last few years with technological advances have revolutionized how the top companies are designing their pliers. At one time it was common practice to make pliers from casted construction, a process where you force molten metal under high pressure into reusable metal molds. A common occurrence was that these types of pliers would often rust or bend. Once the jaws of your pliers busted, you would have to replace them. Today, most high-end pliers have removable jaws and cutters that are replaceable, which essentially gives you a new pair of pliers for a fraction of the cost of buying a new pair.
We’ve compiled some of our favorite pliers you should consider getting for your next saltwater fly fishing trip.
1. Hatch – Nomad Pliers
The Nomad pliers by Hatch are versatile and capable of rigging any fishing line material on the market. They use extremely hard Tungsten Carbide cutters in an anvil configuration, allowing one to cut through wire, braid, fluorocarbon, and monofilament. These pliers have been used by the pros all over the world for tightening knots, removing hooks, de-barbing flies, cutting line and even opening beer bottle caps. From a serious fisherman's perspective, there’s no comparison. They also made them TSA compatible for carry-on travel at 6.25”. Keep them snug and secure on your belt with the accompanying sheath and lanyard. The Nomad Pliers are definitely a must-have for fly anglers.
Suggested Retail Price: $300
2. Van Staal Pliers
Arguably one of the best pliers on the market, Van Staal pliers are built to perform and built to last.
Available in 7", 6", or 5" Titanium, each pair is remarkably lightweight and extremely strong. Van Staal fishing pliers are designed with a spring-loaded ergonomic line cutter with replaceable tungsten cutters and anvils.
Forged from corrosion-proof 6AL-4V Titanium that won’t rust or wear, these lightweight Van Staal Titanium Pliers can handle the worst saltwater conditions. Each pair integrates grip-tight cut jaws for maximum holding power and spring-loaded, ergonomically designed handles that keep the pliers open and ready for work. The replaceable Tungsten cutter and anvil cleanly cut through both braided and gel spun lines, while the unique line-keeper feature prevents the line from slipping out of the cut zone. Precision bushings provide consistent, smooth cutting and gripping action against years of abuse. Available by themselves or as a kit with lanyard and leather sheath, these pliers are a well-made, reliable tool to have at your side when out on the flats.
Suggested Retail Price: Size: $359.00
3. Simms Guide Pliers
Simms has been focused on simple solutions for angler’s problems on the water, which is why the Simms Guide Pliers have proven to be a durable, high-quality tool to have on the water. They have created their pliers to have a high level of function, without seeming over-designed.
For 2018, their pliers have been completely redesigned. Simms' 7-inch-long pliers feature pinchers with ample in-hand ergonomics and are crafted from lightweight, durable aircraft-grade aluminum. Simms made them smaller in size for a better fit in the hand while keeping the key feature of a finger hole at the plier pivot point. Additional features include a beveled notch for tightening knots, replaceable stainless-steel jaws and tungsten carbide cutters, lanyard clip-in points, a utility leash and a compression molded nylon holster that comes standard. The holster is durable, molded tyvex that fits exactly to the shape of the plier so they will stay in and not fall out of holster. These “Made in Montana” pliers are machine-casted and come complete with a bottle opener. A solid choice for any angler going after big fish.
Suggested Retail Price: $269.95
4. Abel Plyers
With their latest design, Abel has incorporated tighter tolerances on their pliers that can cut through anything from 8x tippet to 250lb nylon-coated braided wire.
Because they are made from machined, lightweight 6061-T651 anodized aluminum, they don't corrode or rust. Likewise, they really don't require a lot of cleaning. They come in one size (6.5 inches long at 4.1 oz.). On their tool-grade steel replaceable jaws, they do a nickel plating and a heat treatment that holds a hard edge. A portion of the jaws at the base is used for cutting and another portion is used for grabbing the line to pull it tight. At the tips, you can use the pliers to bend a barb if needed or to grab a hook out of fish.
These lightweight, spring-loaded pliers are an optimal size with a simple ergonomic design. Abel machined a different groove on each side of the handles to improve it’s grip and provide a tacticle clue as to which side the cutter is on. This is clever, yet subtle detail that can help out when there is a lot going on when handling a fish. They have even integrated bottle opener on their pliers. Abel pliers come with a leather sheath and a lanyard and are a high-end all-inclusive plier package that any angler can count on.
Suggested Retail Price: $300.00
5. Gerber - Magna Fishing Pliers
Set to be released in early 2018, Gerber unveiled their new Magna fishing pliers at this year’s ICAST event in Orlando.
The Magna pliers have an orange switch on the hub of the pliers that is designed to keep the spring-loaded device in the closed position, making them easier to manage. The body of the pliers is made from hot forged aluminum (not machined) which helps it resist corrosion. The hot forging method allows their pliers to achieve contours and shapes that the extrusion method doesn't allow. This gives it a more ergonomic and contoured grip. The jaws themselves are made of steel and are replaceable. The line cutters on these pliers are “anvil style” cutters meaning the point of the cutters come down on a flat cutting surface. They are also removable and interchangeable so that if these begin to dull on you, you can switch sides and get a fresh cutting edge.
When held in your hand, their new throttle handles will make for a tighter grip in the closed position. When it comes to pliers, the more open your hand is, the less power you will be able to apply to the jaws of the pliers. The closer you are to making a fist, the more pounds of pressure you can apply when crimping down split shot or taking the barbs off of the hook. The result is you will get more power in the jaws.
They come complete with a sheath and lanyard so you don’t have to worry about dropping them in the drink. These will be available Feb 2018
Suggested Retail Price: $79.00
6. Dr. Slick – Typhoon Pliers
Designed with HR 70+ anvil Tungsten Carbide side cutters, these pliers make short work of any monofilament and excel at cutting the new-age braid and synthetic lines. In fact, they can cut wire up to 60lbs. The jaws of these pliers are made from heat treated SUS420 J2 coated stainless steel with an HR of 52. The plier frame construction is made from 6061-T6 anodized aluminum to withstand salt water and is equipped with non-slip rubber grips and a self-opening spring.
Suggested Retail Price: $49.95
7. Cuda 7.5" Titanium Pliers
These 7.5" Cuda pliers feature Tungsten Carbide Mono and Braid cutting blades and Titanium Bonded jaws backed by Cuda’s lifetime warranty. Their aluminum alloy construction comes with their non-slip Cuda pattern handle grips. The durable full tang construction is visible through the handle design. A ballistic nylon sheath is included for storage along with a convenient lanyard. They are a great tool to have at your side.
Suggested Retail Price: 45.99
8. 3-Tand - Surgex S-6+ Fishing Pliers
The Surgex S-6+ fishing pliers by 3-Tand were created with comfort, durability, precision and affordability in mind. Fully machined for extra strength, they come with two types of replaceable tips; a multi-tool tip with split ring opener with a crimping tool and standard needle-nose tips. They also come with extra tungsten carbide cutters and extra screws. The tungsten carbide cutters have no problem cutting through the toughest braided line or thinnest leader.
Their unique, surgical-style rubberized frames with tapered handles offer extreme comfort in hand. Ease of use is benefited with the integration of a spring-loaded hinge for quick action. They are machined from solid aircraft aluminum for strength, durability, and longevity. Their anti-corrosion and rust-proof material makes the Surgex S-6+ a great choice for the harsh saltwater use. Add in the lightweight but durable sheath with lanyard and you have yourself a set of pliers that will rise to the occasion of any fishing situation you encounter.