April 24th, 2006

The Premiere OnLine Magazine for the Fly Fishing Enthusiast.
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A Compact Hook Removal Tool for Small Fish
By Jim Herbold (nowindknots)

Warm water anglers face a special challenge. Bluegill and other sunfish have such tiny mouths that it is very difficult to extract flies taken deeply. It always bothered me when an extraction was not "clean." If you've been there, you know what I mean.

My first attempt at this was a small pocket sized screwdriver with a notch filed across the blade. This worked well enough, but you had to position it on the hook carefully. Also, if the fish wiggled it could injure the inside of his mouth.

The version I settled on is made from a plastic Children's Needle you can buy at Wal-Mart or most crafts stores. They come two to a package, and cost less than a buck for the pair. There are two types. The ones shown here have the usual needle shape. The other style has a ball at the "point." Either will work. The ball end might enhance grip ability.

The first step is to take a pair of cutters and snip off about 2/3 of the eye. (The grid in the photos is inch.)

The second step is to use an emery board to round the sharp edges left from step 1.


To use the tool, engage the "crotch" end onto the hook bend. Push back slightly to disengage the hook point. Pull the hook up snug against the tool and remove the tool and hook from the fish's mouth.

If you've done a good job smoothing and rounding the nubs, with many flies all you have to do is slide the tool gently along the tippet and it will naturally find the hook bend. The plastic has a molded-in shape that helps guard the hook point as you pull it out.

I used a braided loop and super glue to attach mine to a zinger so it's always handy. I never go to gill water without it. ~ Jim Herbold (nowindknots)

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