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 ¼ 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
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
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)