If you fish long enough, it’s a virtual guarantee that you or someone you are fishing with will get a stray hook embedded somewhere in the skin. Accidents happen, and treble hooks especially, are famous for getting buried into hands and fingers. I can think of many situations where this could possibly happen.
- You are removing hooks from a fish when it makes a sudden movement, lodging one or more points into your hand.
- Sitting down in the boat, you unknowingly sit on top of a rod or lure, sticking a hook in your leg or hand in the process.
- You reached for something in the boat and bump over a rod that slings a lure into your arm.
- You are trying to free a snagged lure from a tree, only to have the lure suddenly break free and slingshot directly towards your face.
- Maybe you have a fishing buddy who is casting challenged and snags his crankbait into your arm or face because he wasn’t paying attention.
The point is, there are a thousand ways to get a hook stuck and just a few ways to remove them. By learning how to remove a fish hook from skin, you will be prepared for the situation and can save your day of fishing, and hopefully avoiding an expensive trip to the emergency room. Here are 3 methods of removing a fish hook that fishermen should learn, as demonstrated by Kevin Newell, a professional fishing guide from Oregon. Image via iFish.net
Remove the Barb
This method requires you to push the point of the hook through your skin, where you can easily remove the barb. Only use this method if the barb is stuck shallow and can easily point back out. If you have a deeply embedded hook, it’s best to seek medical attention.
If the hook is small enough, you can use the side cutters to simply cut the hook pint off and pull out the hook from the direction it came. For larger hooks you need to use a strong pair of fishing pliers to mash the barb flat to the shank, allowing you to freely pull the hook back out.
Yes, it will be painful pushing the point through, but once you do the barb can be removed and the hook quickly removed. Assuming the hook is buried at a shallow angle, this can be the fastest and easiest way to get a fish hook removed from a finger or hand.
Reverse Pliers Pull
This is what I would call a “brute force” method of hook removal. The keys to this method are getting the point and barb of the hook lined up with the entry hole in your skin and having pliers strong enough to handle large hooks. Once you’re set, give the hook a quick and strong pull. You will feel some pain removing the hook this way, but as long as you get the hook lined up properly, you will get it out.
Fishing Line Method
In this method, Kevin shows us how to remove a fish hook with fishing line. This is one of the newer hook removal methods to become popular recently. As you will see in the video, it doesn’t always work the best.
First, you need to make a loop of line out of some heavy braid or heavy monofilament. Guide the loop over the eye of the hook, towards the apex of the bend. Second, have a helper push downward on the eye, pinning it against the skin. Third, and most important, is to pull suddenly and swiftly, upward and away from the eye of the hook – NOT in line with the hook eye, as that only engages the barb.
If you are by yourself, you can adapt this method by using a long loop of line and wrapping it around a sturdy object like a tree or cleat on a boat.
Properly executed, using line to remove a fishing hook can be the quickest and least painful method of removing a fish hook from skin. It even works on dogs.
After the Hook is Removed
After getting the stuck hook removed, put some ice over the area to reduce pain and swelling, and it is a very good idea to clean and treat the area with some antibiotic.
Please seek medical attention for hooks in sensitive areas where these methods are not suitable.
To see Kevin’s full demonstration of how to remove a fish hook from skin, watch the video below. If you are squeamish, I recommend you skip it.