05: Getting the Hooks Out
Between The Lines - Ch 08: Training
Getting hooks into the tough jaws of fish is understandably discussed far more often than removing them. This is quite reasonable as it’s not until you’ve tried getting them out of a large uncooperative lively fish alongside the boat that you realise just how difficult and dangerous this task can be.
Fortunately, anglers are releasing an increasing percentage of the fish they catch, so the question of how to get the hooks out of fish is more relevant than ever. Many crews don’t even try to get the hooks out and just cut the leader close to the fish, leaving them in. The thinking is that this is less stressful for the fish than being handled at the side of the boat. However, there are several adverse factors in not retrieving the hooks, several of which were discussed in the section of hook choice.
No doubt, getting your hooks back from a fish can be very dangerous, and there is no way of getting hooks out without some element of danger involved. Fish are unpredictable, their teeth and bills can inflict severe injury and there are certainly concerns if using twin hook rigs, of getting a hook in you while the fish still has one in it.
There are several alternative methods of getting the hooks out, none of which eliminate danger completely.
One of the methods of getting the hook out is letting the hooks fall out by allowing the leader to go slack. Sometimes giving the leader a quick jerk will also flex the hooks out. This is certainly the fastest if it works. (Vid 1)
With the increasing popularity of tag and release of billfish, several tools have been designed to aid in removing hooks. The first is the Hook'em Hook Out Pole which is great for getting hooks out of fish that are on the leader.
Using the pole is quite simple, just keep the leader taut as you guide the pole down to the hook bend and push the hooks out. As with all tools try them in a training run before you use them in battle. (Vid 2)
The second part of our example is the Top Shot Hook Out Gun which makes getting hooks out quickly and easily. Once again use them in a training test on shore, as in many cases you may learn some small points that help. In this case with the hooks in the back of the jaw pushing them towards the front stops them being jammed by the bottom jaw. In the videos, the medium-sized gun is used. However, the larger 20” gun is a must-have for any serious game and sports fishermen. (Vid 3)
Since making this CD there have been several accidents using this type of hook out gun on big fish.
A little practice beforehand makes any job on the water easier, faster, and more efficient, and in this case, makes it all just a little bit safer. (Vid 4)
Getting hooks out of fish will always have an element of danger, but having a selection of appropriate tools and the knowledge of how to use them will make the job easier.