We may not necessarily be the most fish-friendly of blogs—after all, recent guest star Russ Bailey has a segment dedicated to cooking crappie, his catch of choice. That said, we’re 100 percent for anybody who has a method in mind for keeping “catch-and-release” fishing as gentle on the prize as possible.
One of these individuals is Tucker Hoge and the rest of the team behind The Fish Grip, a tool designed to make the handling of a freshly-caught fish less stressful to both the angler and the angled. We decided to review The Fish Grip to see what was going on.
Consider the impact on both fish and fisherman after reeling in a winner. The catch is in survival mode—it can’t know that you intend to throw him back. If you want to weigh it, or get a picture before tossing it back, you often need to deal with plenty of thrashing. This can get risky for both parties when attempting to remove the hook. The specimen’s instinct to escape creates potential for injury to both itself and the fishermen from “misplaced” hooks and fins.
The Fish Grip solves the problem. Essentially a specialized set of pliers, the grip clamps down in a fish’s mouth—keeping the angler’s fingers safe from teeth, sharp gills and their own hook during the removal process. The fish may not realize it at the time, but many a tear has been prevented over the years thanks to The Fish Grip.
The idea was devised by Don Norton, a Mississippi native who loved fishing for large Red Drums (also know as Channel Bass or simply Redfish) in the Gulf of Mexico. We’re talking about fish that can get up to 3.5 feet long...and put up a lot of fight when brought into the boat. Norton—who created the original prototype and then developed it alongside Tucker Hoge and his father, Cal—noticed he wasn’t the only one taking a beating in the process.
“We were using all sorts of pliers and vise-grips to hold the fish by their lips...breaking jaws and tearing big holes,” Tucker explains.
Granted, one doesn’t need to be wrestling with Gulf goliaths in order to use The Fish Grip. Beginning anglers spend countless hours learning how to rig a line and tie knots, but perhaps not enough attention is dedicated to “how do I get this thing off my hook?” As Hoge suggested, getting the hook out of a catch’s mouth can be one of the toughest steps in the process.
The company aims specifically for its amateur audience with the Fish Grip Jr. line, a smaller product designed for smaller hands and, presumably, smaller fish.
Another positive in The Fish Grip reviews is the company’s choice of materials: It’s made largely of plastic so it floats and the necessary metal elements are stainless steel, so it doesn’t corrode. You might miss all of this due to its vibrant range of colors, however: green, pink, glow-in-the-dark...you name it. Hoge doesn’t have any new colors on the horizon but he drew our attention to the “All American,” a unit featuring its pieces in respective shades of red, white and blue.
The Fish Grip has taken off in recent years, and can now be found at Bass Pro Shops, among other retailers. Getting it off the ground wasn’t easy, however.
“We had a difficult time upfront, but it’s finally catching on,” Tucker said. The newfound success has come with some downsides as well. “The bigger companies are copying our grip. So we’re in the process of branding it out, The Fish Grip versus a fish grip, you know?”
As people who live nearby to The Ohio State University, we know exactly what you mean.
I purchased a “The Fish Grip” in late 2011. Worked OK when the fish were small (< 2kg) and quiet but larger, active fish often ‘escaped’ the grip. How? On my pair, once the jaws are closed, tightly holding the handle (as you do when trying to control larger active fish) causes the tool to flex and the jaws to slightly open again. I read recently that these grips are now made from a different material and maybe this reduces the flexing that results in the jaws opening and larger active fish escaping. I’ve now moved to a Si rubber knotless net for fish to be released.
The Fish Grip is great. It has helped me introduce my kids to the joys of fishing. They were afraid of fish “flopping”- this tool allows them to safely handle their catch while keeping themselves safe as well- not to mention it lets me keep fishing for my own catch. My cheap brother bought a junk chinese knock off and his kid now has a sad story about the one that got away because the knock off broke on a 2lb catfish