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FISH­ING PLI­ERS: CHOOSE THE RIGHT PAIR FOR YOU

Sport Fishing - - GEAR GUIDE -

If you’re any­thing like me, you’ve used pli­ers to pull hooks out of ev­ery­thing from fish to fin­gers to fur­ni­ture. You’ve used them to clip, snip, crimp, clamp and grip. You’ve prob­a­bly dropped a pair or three over­board, snapped off a jaw or two, bent some cut­ters, and watched cheap pairs of fish­ing pli­ers rapidly turn into un­us­able chunks of cor­ro­sion.

You also may have no­ticed that vir­tu­ally ev­ery pro­fes­sional guide has a pair of high-qual­ity fish­ing pli­ers strapped to their hip each and ev­ery time they leave the dock. Pli­ers are the in­dis­pens­able do-ev­ery­thing tool that an­glers find in­valu­able — as­sum­ing they have the right tool for the job.

ANGLING ELEMENTALS

So, how do you know which pli­ers to choose? Much of the de­ci­sion boils down to per­sonal pref­er­ence and bud­get. “Ev­ery an­gler will have their own pref­er­ences,” says Stephen Britt, man­ager of brand de­vel­op­ment in charge of pli­ers for Penn. “If they’re look­ing for pre­mium fea­tures, the higher price of a very ex­pen­sive pair can be jus­ti­fied. If an­glers simply need the ba­sics, the most in­ex­pen­sive pli­ers might suit their needs. This is a cat­e­gory where you get what you pay for. But when deisign­ing pli­ers specif­i­cally for fish­er­men, there are a num­ber of must-haves.”

Britt boils down the ne­ces­si­ties to: Dura­bil­ity.

Tex­tured jaws that al­low for a solid grip on hooks and/or wire.

Hav­ing a sheath with a lan­yard and at­tach­ment points on the pli­ers. Er­gonomic, non­slip han­dles.

Cut­ters ca­pa­ble of snip­ping both mono and braid.

He adds that hav­ing re­place­able parts is a plus, be­cause even the high­est-qual­ity pieces can be bro­ken and the very best blades can even­tu­ally dull. An­other fea­ture many peo­ple like is knot-cinch­ing notches be­cause it’s safer and eas­ier to ap­ply ten­sion on the line with­out hold­ing the hook in your bare hand. Britt also points out that some an­glers like springloaded mod­els, which make for eas­ier one-handed op­er­a­tion.

Mark Kratz, na­tional sales man­ager for Rosco Inc., which makes high­end Don­n­mar pli­ers, be­lieves that when an an­gler chooses fish­ing pli­ers, there are many fac­tors to con­sider — but the bot­tom line comes down to con­struc­tion qual­ity.

High-end pli­ers aren’t for ev­ery an­gler, he says, “but for guides and for peo­ple who spend a ton of time out on the water, top qual­ity is im­por­tant. You want cast stain­less steel or ti­ta­nium. Full ti­ta­nium, not just a coat­ing. You want tung­sten-car­bide cut­ters, and com­po­nents that are hand­made and then tested, not mass-pro­duced.”

GREAT EX­PEC­TA­TIONS

In­ter­est­ingly, there’s a huge price leap be­tween in­ex­pen­sive fish­ing pli­ers and the best of the best. You can buy a de­cent pair of pli­ers for $50 or so, but then the price ramps up sub­stan­tially and com­monly runs north of $300. Kratz again says this comes back to qual­ity, and notes that the Don­n­mars (which top our chart for pric­ing) are en­tirely hand­made in the USA. “That’s pretty rare,” he says. “And when you look at the grooves in one of our pairs of pli­ers, you know that each and ev­ery one of them was ground in by hand, by one per­son.”

Kratz says pli­ers built in this way are truly meant to last a life­time. In the case of very high-end pli­ers like these, even af­ter decades of use, you might be able to sand-blast them, clean them, re­place the cut­ters, and re-treat the metal to pre­vent cor­ro­sion. He also men­tions that be­ing able to re­place cut­ters is a key fea­ture to look for be­cause this is the part that most com­monly gets dull or dam­aged.

An­other brand of fish­ing pli­ers made in the USA is Ac­cu­rate’s Pi­ranha pli­ers. Ac­cu­rate’s past vice pres­i­dent of mar­ket­ing, Ben Se­crest, agrees that

find­ing pli­ers made here at home is both un­usual and im­por­tant. “We know what ma­te­ri­als we’re put­ting in, and we can test things here,” he says. “We ma­chine the 6061 T6 air­craft­grade alu­minum our­selves. We can de­sign for min­i­mal weight but with pre­ci­sion and strength. And we can fix any prob­lems that might arise quickly.”

He notes that when Ac­cu­rate saw room for im­prove­ment with the com­mon cut­ters that didn’t ex­tend back far enough (line some­times slides be­yond the cut­ting edge, mak­ing them tougher to use), they were able to change the de­sign. Since both the de­sign and man­u­fac­tur­ing all takes place in-house, in short or­der they were able to mod­ify the cut­ters to catch the line quickly and eas­ily.

Like Kratz, Se­crest be­lieves that re­place­able parts are a crit­i­cal as­pect of bet­ter pli­ers. He points to the abil­ity to re­place Ac­cu­rate’s cut­ters, as well as the pli­ers’ jaws. High-qual­ity cut­ters will cut both monofil­a­ment and braid for years, he says. “But peo­ple some­times try to pry things or cut thick wire, and these parts can get dam­aged on any pair of pli­ers. That’s why we de­sign all of these parts to be re­place­able.”

COM­MON SENSE AND BA­SIC CARE

Britt points to main­te­nance and care as fac­tors that sig­nif­i­cantly im­pact how long a pair of pli­ers will last. “Good care means dif­fer­ent things to dif­fer­ent an­glers,” Britt says. “If rea­son­ably priced pli­ers are treated with the ultimate in care, they could last a life­time, al­though you might need or want to re­place the cut­ters at some point. But with nor­mal use, a fresh­wa­ter rinse at the end of the day, and stor­age in a dry en­vi­ron­ment mean most an­glers can ex­pect pli­ers to last three to five years.”

Britt also pro­vides a note of cau­tion, men­tion­ing that some things can dras­ti­cally shorten the pli­ers’ life span. Ob­vi­ously, sub­merg­ing them in salt water or drop­ping them in sand isn’t a good idea. But Britt also spec­i­fies not scrub­bing pli­ers with a wire brush, which can re­move the pro­tec­tive coat­ings that some man­u­fac­tur­ers ap­ply. Pry­ing on ob­jects in ways never in­tended for fish­ing pli­ers (like try­ing to pry a bent an­chor shackle back to form) is an­other good way to dam­age a pair of pli­ers.

The bot­tom line: Con­sider pli­ers’ ma­te­ri­als and de­sign as well as cost. A $50 pair might very well do the job, and re­plac­ing them ev­ery two or three years won’t break the bank. But a much more ex­pen­sive pair might be best for some an­glers, who can then count on them for many more years of ser­vice. No mat­ter what type of fish­ing you en­joy, few tools have more uses than those clip­ping, snip­ping, crimp­ing, clamp­ing and grip­ping fish­ing pli­ers strapped to your hip.

Built to last: An­glers who ex­pect to hang onto fish­ing pli­ers for many years are likely to find high-end pli­ers worth the in­vest­ment.

Some pli­ers, like these Ra­pala Mag Spring Pli­ers, are spring-loaded for quick, one-handed op­er­a­tion.

Even top-end pli­ers like those made by Van Staal of­fer re­place­able cut­ters be­cause even­tu­ally the orig­i­nal cut­ters will dull with use.

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