How to Take Fish Off a Hook Without Getting Finned

How to Take Fish Off a Hook Without Getting Finned

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Once you catch a fish and reel it in, proper landing and unhooking must be done before you gloat over your victorious catch. Getting stung or finned by a fish can be painful, and it may even cause you to drop the fish back into the water. This occurs when the sharp fin spines puncture the skin, which can cause swelling. If you sustain puncture wounds, clean the wounds immediately with antiseptic treatment and cover with a bandage.

Items you will need

  • Net

  • Needle-nose pliers or hook removers

Grip the fish from the top by positioning your hand in front of the dorsal fin and behind the pectoral fins. For smaller fish, hold behind the pectoral and dorsal spines. Let the space between your thumb and forefinger rest behind the dorsal spine of the fish. This handling helps protect your hand from the hard, sharp spines that runs the length of the dorsal and pectoral fins, especially from a catfish.

Grip the fish by the lower jaw using your thumb and index finger, if you catch a bass. This causes the jaw to open wide and paralyzes the hooked fish temporarily. If you have a panfish, pull it toward you using the rod then grab by the mouth. Holding the fish near the head helps avoid the dorsal, tail, pectoral, pelvic and anal fins.

Remove the hook by grabbing the eyelet or small hole that's connected to the line. Pull the hook back out in the same direction it went in. You can also use needle-nose pliers or a hook remover to flatten the barb. Pull the hook straight out once the barb is flattened.

Use a net when landing and unhooking bigger fish. Dip the net in the water and guide the fish into the net head first. Unhook while the fish is in the water if you plan to release it. Remove it from the water and unhook quickly if you plan to keep it. The less stress is placed on the fish, the less likely it will try to fin you.


  • Always carry a first-aid kit when fishing in case of accidents and emergencies.
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