Your Guide to Fish Hook Removal

If you're a fisherman, it's important to know how to remove a fish hook safely to prevent injury to yourself and, more importantly, to your "catch." Using the proper technique helps avoid damage to the fish's mouth and other body parts, and controls the spread of parasites and diseases to other fish. It's best to ensure that the fish is healthy and can survive if released into its habitat. Even if you plan on keeping and eating your catch, it’s important to know how to properly remove hooks.

At Charlie's Worms, we supply easy-to-use fish hook removers that will make this process simple and straightforward.

Types of Hooks and Their Removal Methods

Various hooks are used in freshwater and saltwater fishing, each with its recommended removal method. At Charlie's Worms, we provide a variety of fish hooks such as the single (a hook with a single point), treble (three points), circle (circular shape designed to hook the fish in the corner of its mouth), and the double fang (two curved points that face opposite directions).

When removing single, treble, or double fang fish hooks, it's best to gently grip the hook shank (using pliers or a fish hook remover) as close to the hook point as possible. You will then need to slowly work the hook out of the fish's mouth or hooking location. When removing a circle hook, it's best to leave it in place and gently reel it in the line. This allows the hook to work itself out of the fish's mouth or increases hook exposure so you can easily remove it. If the hook is deeply embedded, it may be necessary to cut the line and leave it in place. This will cause less harm to the fish and allow it to be released more quickly. You can use long fishing pliers to remove a gut hook.

Knowing how to remove a fish hook helps to minimize harm to the fish, reduces the risk of injury to the angler, improves the chance of survival for the fish, and saves time. Fish hook removers are more efficient than pliers or bare hands and reduce the risk of you being poked or bitten by the hook. Although for deep gut hooked fish, pliers may be your best bet.

Preparing the Fish for Hook Removal 

Before you remove the fish hook, it is important to understand why removing it from the fish is essential.

  • The fish's health: Handling a fish roughly or exposing it to air for extended periods can cause stress and harm its internal organs and systems, potentially leading to death
  • The fish's survival: A stressed fish may struggle excessively, making removal of the hook more difficult and increasing the risk of further injury
  • Habitat conservation: The fish can be easily released back into its natural habitat if it isn't damaged or too stressed, increasing its chances of survival and contributing to the conservation of the species
  • Promote responsible angling: Being gentle with your catch and releasing it back into its habitat helps to maintain healthy fish populations and preserve the sport for future generations

How to Keep the Fish Calm 

The best way to keep a fish calm during hook removal is to: 

  • Keep the fish in the water as much as possible
  • Minimize movement by gently holding the fish and trying to keep it still during the hook removal process
  • Avoid excessive handling or movement that may cause the fish to struggle
  • Use gloves to help prevent slipping and reduce the amount of stress on the fish
  • Gently control the fish's head and keep its mouth closed to avoid it struggling and injuring itself
  • Removing a hook can be a delicate process, so patience is essential

Removing the Hook 

Here are a few simple steps on how to remove a fish hook using our fish hook remover:

  1. Wet your hands or wear fishing gloves to prevent slipping and minimize the fish's stress.
  2. Use a fish hook remover to grasp the hook shank as close to the hook point as possible. If a fish hook remover is not available, use pliers.
  3. Gently and slowly rotate the hook to loosen it from the fish's mouth or point of location. Avoid contact with the fish's eyes and gills while doing this.
  4. Once the hook loosens, carefully back it out of the fish's mouth or body.

If you cannot remove the fish hook, you may need to cut the line while leaving it in place. It will cause less harm to the fish and allow it to be released faster. If the hook is deep, but accessible, long needle nose pliers can be used, gently.

After the Hook is Removed 

Once the hook has been removed, properly handling and releasing the fish is critical to reduce stress and increase the fish's chances of survival. Here are some pointers for safe fish handling and release:

  • Keep the fish in the water as much as possible before dehooking to reduce stress and protect the fish's delicate scales and slime layer
  • Be gentle when handling the fish, and avoid squeezing it or exposing it to air for long periods
  • The fish may also have sharp spines or fins, so proceed with caution and, if necessary, wear gloves
  • Once removing the hook, return the fish to the water as quickly as possible to reduce stress and increase the chances of survival
  • When releasing the fish, gently support it with both hands, remove any excess water from its gills, then gently lower the fish back into the water and release it
  • Avoid tossing it back into the water or onto the shore, as this can harm habitats and other aquatic life

When you know how to remove a fish hook and release your fish correctly, you can help ensure the fish's survival and the health and balance of aquatic ecosystems. Learning and practicing proper fish handling techniques is essential whether you're a seasoned angler or a beginner.

What to Do if Poked/Stabbed By a Fish Hook 

If you get poked or stabbed by a fish hook, you must act quickly to minimize the risk of infection and reduce pain. First, stop the bleeding. If the hook has broken the skin, apply pressure to the affected area with a clean cloth to stop the bleeding.

Clean the wound with soap and water to reduce the risk of infection. Avoid using hydrogen peroxide or alcohol, as these can damage tissue.

If the hook is still in your skin, try to remove it yourself or seek assistance from a medical professional. Removing the hook quickly and correctly can help to reduce pain and minimize the risk of infection.

A deeply embedded hook may cause symptoms such as swelling, redness, or severe pain. Seek medical attention as soon as possible if this occurs.

To reduce the risk of being poked or stabbed by a hook, always handle fishing gear carefully and be cautious when releasing fish. Consider wearing gloves or other protective equipment and using a fish hook remover while fishing.

Get Your Hooks Out 

It is critical to handle the fish gently and carefully to avoid stress and injury to yourself and your catch. If you are still trying to figure out how to remove a fish hook, it is best to seek professional assistance or review the proper removal techniques before attempting it yourself.

A fish hook remover is an investment worth making whether you're a seasoned angler or just starting. Our fish hook remover, quality fishing pliers and inline circle hooks are essential tools for any angler looking to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and preservation of their fishing experience.

Feel free to share your tips and experiences with fish hook removals in the comments or on our Facebook page.
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