How To Unhook A Fish Guide


If you are a fishing enthusiast and you like fishing for sport, you will be doing a lot of catch and release.

Of course, to make a proper release, you will need to unhook the fish. Sometimes it is easier said and done as some species of fish are tougher to unhook than others. Also, depending on where the fish has been hooked, the process can either be fast and easy or a bit harder.

Be careful

Avoid at all times being in haste and instead, take your time to unhook the fish. The last thing that you want is to end up ripping at the fish and causing injury.

Do not tug at the hook so as not to rip the flesh inside the mouth of the fish. Leaving an open would cause the fish to get infected.

Also, in a worst-case scenario, you want to avoid causing damage to the jaw of the fish as it will not be able to feed and will, therefore, starve to death.

Make sure you are wearing fishing sunglasses to protect your eyes.

Keep in mind that it is easier to remove a barbless hook than it is to remove barbed ones. If you are fishing for sport, avoid using the barbed variety. The barbless hook will only require you to pull it back.

Part of taking care when removing the hook from fish is avoiding injury to yourself. Often the fish will not be dead and may splash wildly trying to free itself. This could put you at risk of stabbing yourself with sharp hooks.

Always ensure you are using the best fishing rod and reel.

What you never want to happen is getting your finger hooked while having the fish hooked as well. Remember that the hook is not the only thing that you need to take to be careful about. You also want to watch out for the fin spines, the teeth, as well as the gill, covers all of which can cause a nasty cut that could get infected.

Use a tool

Anglers have plenty of tools that are designed for many tasks involved in fishing one of which is removing hooks. Among the most popular tools are fishing pliers. These are very effective at removing small-sized and medium-sized hooks.

What makes them ideal is the design of the pliers. By having a tapered head, they can easily get inside the mouth of the fish.

However, if you are using very small hooks, you will probably want to go for a hemostat.

Granted, these may not be the best tools for fish that have large teeth and big mouths. However, you can still find other better-suited devices such as jaw spreaders. These will keep the mouth of the fish open until the angler can remove the hook. As you do this, however, always make sure that you do not overextend the jaw opener and break the jaw of the fish.

Open the jaw just enough to remove the hook.

When you are fly fishing make sure you have the right fly fishing rod for the task.

Unhooking impaled fish


One of the most confusing things for any angler is deciding how to unhook a fish that has been impaled and whether leave the hook inside. This is something that mostly occurs during bait fishing.

For the longest time, there has been a consensus among anglers to cut the line and leave the hook in the fish instead of trying to removing the hook from the fish end up causing more internal injury to the fish.

Studies have shown that these fish continue to survive after the hooks are left inside. If you are baitcasting, use only the best baitcasting rod.

The downside of this method is that the hooks will eventually corrode and poison the fish. The rate of corrosion may depend on the type of hook but it will happen at a faster rate in saltwater than in freshwater. Otherwise, the hooks will be passed through the anus of the fish and can cause some serious issues.

If the hook was swallowed deeply, it may end up puncturing the stomach and other internal organs. And even if you were to release the fish, it would soon die since the damage is already done.

The damage would be less with hooks caught in the gills or the throat of the fish. Other times the size of the mouth of the fish may make it difficult to remove a deeply set hook. Other factors will include how strong the fish is and whether the fish has teeth in its mouth.

When things get difficult and when the fish is quite strong, always enlist the help of a buddy. One of you can hold the fish while the other works on getting the hook out.

Unhooking the fish

The first step on how to unhook a fish is reeling it in. When you finally reel it close, grab it by the tail and lift it out of the water. Then, with your other hand, hold it by the pectoral fins under the gills.

Maintain a firm grip on the fish to prevent it from wiggling. Having the right fishing shoes will ensure you always maintain your grip on the boat or ground.

If you plan on catching then releasing, always make sure that you use a barbless hook. Sometimes the process of removing the hook from fish can be simple and all you will need to do is pull out the hook without causing damage to the fish.

Of course, as we saw above it all depends on where the fish has been hooked. Use pliers to remove the hook if it is easier this way.

If the hook has been swallowed, you may want to cut the line and release the fish. There is a high chance that the fish will survive. When fishing in the rain, ensure you have the right rain gear for fishing.

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Catching and releasing a fish will need special care to avoid doing damages to the fish and to allow it to have a chance to continue leading a normal fish life. Make sure that you use barbless hooks and use the right tools for unhooking the fish.

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!