This post will cover all of the Pike unhooking tools you will need to properly care for the fish you catch. We will focus on the Pike which is, of course, our biggest native freshwater predator but the same care and principles should be applied when handling all predators. Whether you are lure fishing or dead baiting for pike this post should help you prepare for every situation.
The zander is also an apex predator, and although non-native, is here to stay and a worthy sporting fish.
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Pike Unhooking Tools – Fish Care Rules
Pike appears tough, powerful creatures, which they are in their own environment… However, remove them from the water and they become surprisingly fragile.
It is very important that care is taken when landing, unhooking and handling Pike to ensure that they are returned safely to the water to fight another day. Using the correct techniques and Pike unhooking tools will also help to prevent bites and scratches from these toothy predators.
Pike Unhooking Tools – Landing Net
When it comes to landing a pike you should ensure you have a net that is up to the job. A large 40-inch triangular specimen net or 30-inch round net is ideal. A rubber net will also help to prevent lures from getting tangled in the net and make your life a whole lot easier.
Be sure to sink the net below the water before bringing the pike into the net. Then lift the pike out of water and place on an unhooking mat.
A quick tip… Hold the net at both sides of the frame this will ensure the net does not break and will avoid the fish from hitting the floor.
Never, ever, drag your catch or lay it on hard, rough ground.
I have never met a pike angler that wasn’t nervous unhooking their first fish. Most find the pike’s teeth intimidating and unhooking can like seem a mammoth task at first.
While it is normal to feel like this, it is also the time that a lot of fish are injured. This more often than not is due to a lack of confidence of the angler.
There are a few things you can do to make sure that while still nervous you are confident in your abilities.
Key to this is the right tools.
We have already discussed the landing net but what are the other pike unhooking tools you need for the job.
Essentials – Forceps
A pair of eight-inch forceps are perfect for removing hooks and a must for all predator anglers. I choose high quality, stainless steel ones that have a lockable position. The lockable position makes taking the hook out of the fish very easy.
Essentials – Long Nose Wire Cutters
A pair of long-nose wire cutters are super important in case you need to snip the hook. Sometimes it is safer for the fish to cut the hook and return the fish to the water rather than fighting with a difficult placed hook.
Essentials – Unhooking Mat
A crucial addition to your pike unhooking tools is the unhooking mat. An unhooking mat is a perfect way to ensure fish safety when you’re unhooking large, lively pike, or any other species that might harm itself in its efforts to escape from the bank.
Pike Unhooking Tools – How to unhook a pike
Once your pike is safely on the unhooking mat, the first thing to do is to check where the hooks are before handling the fish.
Once this is done, gently roll the pike onto its back. If it’s a large pike you might want to sit astride it to keep it steady while unhooking.
Place two fingers of your left hand (if right-handed) under the pike’s gill’s and slide your fingers down towards the chin gripping the lower jaw firmly.
The pike’s mouth will usually open as you gently lift the jaw. If your pike is not playing, apply a small amount of pressure to the underside of the upper jaw with your thumb.
You will see that the teeth are located around the edge of the mouth and nowhere near your fingers.
Gently apply some pressure on the trace wire and use the forceps through the mouth or gills to grip the hooks and twist them free.
Why not check out the PAC (Pike Anglers Club) where you can find more brilliant advice on handling pike.
Pike Unhooking Tools – Honourable mentions
These tools are optional additions to your pike unhooking tools and will help you to be ready for every situation.
Honourable Mentions – The Glove
The glove is quite controversial in the pike angling world with many anglers suggesting that a glove can harm the fish. My opinion is that a glove is better if it gives you confidence when handling your fish. Like I mentioned earlier most pike are harmed when the handler is anxious and inexperienced. If a glove will help to avoid this I think it is a good thing.
Many pike anglers start by wearing a glove and quickly learn that by handling the fish properly it is not really necessary.
I will let you make up your own mind on this one.
Honourable Mentions – Pistol Disgorger
I actually like the Pistol Disgorger and is definitely one of my favourite pike unhooking tools and find that it gives excellent grip allowing me to remove hooks much faster than with forceps. I tend to use this tool when dealing with Pike that is hooked quite deep.
Honourable Mentions – Spare Hooks and Split Ring Pliers
Split ring pliers are designed for lure anglers wanting to remove or replace hooks or split rings. The special tool at the end of these pliers opens up the split rings so no more broken fingernails! The fish will go back quicker and the angler will have a replacement hook to start fishing with
I hope you enjoyed the post. Why not check out the blog and remember to subscribe to the newsletter to get notifications of future posts. Have I missed any tools that you think are essential? Comment below. Got questions? Get in touch