Hook extraction is routine to some and short of a panic attack to others. It’s not easy to keep calm and move swiftly but the fishes life depends on you executing the hook removal safety. I’ve heard recently of Dad’s wanting to take a their kid fishing but the hook removal being an issue. A quick way to speed up the hook removal is to debarb the hook. This is removing the sharp pin needle that is just above the shank of the hook near the point.


In the event you have a barb (or don’t) the key is to have a good pair of forceps (pliers). It makes a world of difference when removing a hook quickly and safely.

Having a net to manage the fish will also help you keep control of the flopping fish. Grasp the fish with the netting or by having a grasp around the bod of the fish. You don’t want to squeeze the fish hard because this will cause them to squirm from the pain of your grip.

Grasp the fish firm but with control. Manage the lip of the fish with your thumb and use the forceps pushing the shank of the hook in reverse direction of where the hook entered. In most cases grasping the hook shank towards the belly/body of the fish out.  Carefully not to re-hook the inside of the mouth and out. Always keep the fish close to the water so you can quickly get them back into the water to breathe. If things are taking longer then you hope, lower the fish into the water before and both of you take a break. The longer you keep the fish out of the water, the longer you reduce recovery and chance for survival.

In some cases you might have to cut your loss and give the fish the best case for survival if the hook is two deep. You can do more damaged buy trying to extract the hook. Cut the line as close to the eyelet as possible and softly let the fish go. The fishes mouth is made of heavy cartilage and overtime the fish and work the hook out itself. This is worst case scenario so hopefully you won’t need to come to that.

To recap, a few tips to consider:

  1. Keep calm!
  2. Have a net for fish management.
  3. A good pair of forceps.
  4. Keep the fish close to the water.
  5. De-barb your hook before you fish.
  6. Reverse the hook the way it entered the fishes mouth.
  7. Cut your loses, if a hook is deep in the fishes mouth / belly. Quickly cut a most line off as possible and get the fish back into the water safely.

Check out our video as Doug displayed calmness and how to remove a hook safely.


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