If you’ve never been snagged by your own hook, congratulations. You have achieved a rare feat. Unfortunately, most of the rest of us are not so lucky. At some point in time, nearly every finds a hook stuck in a finger, an arm, a leg, or somewhere worse. They go in pretty easily, but getting them out again can be a hassle. Fishhook removal can be done several ways

No Need for Emergency Medicine to Remove a Fishing Hook

Getting hooked can be painful but there’s no reason to panic. The most common accident during fishing season involves hooks. A first aid kit with a little knowledge of how to use it will take care of the hook problems.

Keep calm and, if you’re helping someone else, try to keep them calm as well. This can be especially hard with children. Just make sure you reassure them it’ll be okay soon enough. Barbless hooks can be easy to remove. A treble hook like those used for catfish will be harder.

The most important tool any angler should always have for removing a hook is a sharp pair of wire cutting pliers or side cutting pliers. I keep a pair in a zip lock plastic bag to keep it from rusting. I never use it for anything except for emergencies. I have a duplicate pair in my tackle box for other uses.

Decide if You Need to Cut The Fishing Line

Depending on the type of hook and how you are going to remove it, you may or may not need line. If you’re using the snatch method, which we’re about to explain, leave about 2 feet of line past the knot. If the barb is buried in the skin somewhere sensitive, you probably won’t want to use this method. Let’s take a look at how you want to proceed.

When a hook’s point and barb are protruding out the skin, it’s easier to cut off the barb and back the hook out of the wound – this is when those sharp wire cutters come in handy.

The best method that seems to be recognized by most experienced hook-remover professionals and even by some doctors is called the snatch method. No matter where the hook ends up, this method works.

The Snatch Method of Hook Removal

This method is quick, simple and relatively painless, as long as you get it on the first try. The secret to a first time success is yanking the loop of line, which is wrapped around the embedded hook, rather hard so the hook comes out on the first try. The reason you should get it out on the first try is obvious. The patient might not stick around for a second try.

The snatch method of hook removal is simple and effective. It’s the best method to remove a deeply embedded hook in the skin and when the barb is buried.

To perform the snatch method when the barb is embedded, all that’s needed is a short length of fishing line, at least 10 pound test, approximately 2 feet long.

Snatch Method Step by Step

1) Remove hook from lure.

2) Double the fishing line and loop it around the hook, as close to the skin’s surface as possible.

3) Hold onto both ends of the doubled line, wrapping them around your hand for a firm grip and holding the line parallel to the skin’s surface in line with the hook.

4) With your other hand, press the eye of the hook down onto the surface of the skin and back toward the hook’s bend, as if trying to back the hook out of the wound.

5) While pressing on the hook eye, yank the line sharply, parallel to the skin and in line with the hook, to snap the hook back out of the wound.

6) Apply antibiotic ointment, bandage wound and check to make sure tetanus shots are current.

Alternate Method

1) Cut the line entirely

2) If possible, number the area with ice/cold water/medicate spray to act as a local anesthesia.

3) Check to see where the barb is. If it’s not embedded, the hook can be easily pulled free.

4) If the hook is embedded and the snatch method is not an option, you may need to push the hook through. This is a painful and more advanced method, so only try this if you feel confident. If the hook is too deep, you can push it to force the point back out. Push it through until the barb appears, then cut the hook. You can then pull the rest of the hook back out the way it came in.

The push-through method is mostly a last resort. If a hook is this deep, always get medical help first if possible. If it’s not an option, then you can consider trying it.

What Not to Do

Not every hook is as easy as this makes it sound. There are times when you absolutely do not want to try this.

  • Never try to remove a hook that is embedded near someone’s eye. Apply basic first aid and seek medical help instead. Treble hooks are especially trick in these areas.
  • Never remove a hook that has snagged a bone or a joint. You could end up doing more damage to blood vessels or nerves pulling it free.
  • If you’re removing a hook from another person and they are panicking or frantic, it may be best to leave it until you can get help or they calm down. If the patient is not calm and still, you could unintentionally make the situation worse.
  • Never feel pressured to remove the hook yourself. If you are not confident in your ability to remove the hook, don’t do it. Seek medical care instead. It’s always better to follow your instincts with something like this.

The Bottom Line

Remember to keep a basic onboard first aid kit. Another essential should be a brand new pair of needle-nosed and wire cutting pliers, sealed in a seal-lock plastic baggy. Anglers using worms should think about updating their tetanus shot. The tetanus germs are usually spread in soil.