A dehooking tool is a simple device that anglers of all ages can use to greatly increase the chances that their released fish survive. The use of a dehooking tool to remove embedded hooks can help alleviate some of the stresses and physical damage associated with catching and handling a fish. In addition, they help protect anglers from sharp hooks, spines, and teeth.
Many anglers use pliers to remove hooks from fish, but long-shafted dehooking tools that can grab the fishing line, slide down it, and remove the hook quickly and safely are recommended because they require minimal to no handling of the fish. Furthermore, with long-shafted dehooking tools, a fish can generally be dehooked without removing it from the water, thus minimizing air exposure and further stress to the fish.
Some dehooking tools are specifically designed to remove deeply swallowed hooks in addition to external lip or foul hooks. Instructions for removing deeply swallowed hooks may differ slightly from tools that only remove external hooks. Consult with the manufacturer and/or salesperson for instructions. If you gut hook a fish and do not have a dehooking tool that can properly remove deeply swallowed hooks or are not comfortable using one, cut the leader as close to the hook as possible. The hook will eventually rust out and/or the fish will be able to expel it.
As a reminder, anglers targeting reef fish in state and federal waters of the Gulf and Atlantic are now required to use dehooking tools. To find out more about these regulations, and learn more about proper fish handling practices visit http://catchandrelease.org/
To see a video of me using a dehooking tool visit: