Tools Every Musky and trophy Pike Angler Needs
By Tim Mead September 15, 2015

Tools Every Musky and trophy Pike Angler Needs
Tools Every Musky and trophy Pike Angler Needs


Tim hits the nail on the head with the required tools, however every fisherman should have these tools in his/her box regardless of what species he/she is after.  Case in point, two years ago I was fishing for smallmouth and I was attempting to take the hooks out of a three pounder, when it made a sudden move putting one of the trebles clear through the meaty part of one of my fingers.  Needless to say with the hook still in the fish as well as in me, it wasn't a fun experience!  Fortunately, I carry all of the tools, all of the time as well as a medical kit.  I don't want to think what I would have done if I didn't have a bolt cutter in the box to cut the hook.   One experience like that and I guarantee you will be prepared the next time if you aren't already.  It should be noted if you fish long enough, you will get hooked!   I went 60+ years before I got hooked, but it eventually happened.   Gordy

We all have favorite rods, reels, lines and lures.   In addition to these basic items, however, musky and trophy pike anglers need tools not directly related to the link between fish and anglers.   This is my take on some of the critical items often overlooked, particularly by newcomers to muskies and trophy pike.

Jaw Spreaders

Jaw spreaders are spring steel devices designed to pry open the jaws of muskies, pike, I guess walleyes too, to enable anglers to remove hooks from inside the mouth of a fish.   The operation is somewhat the reverse of long-nose pliers as the arms at rest push out rather than in.

To remove the hooks, the spreader is slipped flat into the mouth of the fish, turned 90° until the axis of the spreader is vertical to the plane of the fish, then released.   The jaws are forced open and held there to provide access to hard to remove hooks.   See photo below.

Hook Outs

Hook outs are broad pliers on a long stem.   They are used to reach into the throat of a big fish, grasp the bend of a hook, and twist.   Unlike pliers, pushing with a hook out rarely dislodges a hook.   The jaws of the pliers are manipulated by squeezing the handle.   They are often useful in circumstances requiring length not practical with long-nose pliers as the handles on the pliers may be too far apart to be able to insert the jars to the depth needed.   See photo below.

Braid Cutting Scissors

As braided line becomes more popular among serious musky and pike anglers, cutting the line has become a problem.   Certainly, a good sharp knife can do the trick.   A knife, regular scissors or fingernail-style cutter usually leaves the tag end of severed line frayed.   While frayed line can still be used, knots with it slow cast speed, tangle weeds, and are generally a pain.

Several manufacturers have developed specialty scissors which snip braided line cleanly.   I’ve used my scissors on braided line up to 80 pound test.  See Photo below.

Jaw Spreaders Hook Outs Braid Cutting Scissors
Jaw Spreaders Hook Outs Braid Cutting Scissors

Long Nose Pliers

Pliers are, as everyone knows, tools anglers use to disengage hooks.   Over and over, we reach for our pliers for this task.   Musky and pike anglers need stout long nose pliers.   These fish have bony jaws and getting hooks out often requires force lesser pliers cannot withstand.

Hooks, split rings, and other angler necessities in need of repair utilize pliers.   Those used by musky and pike anglers are larger than those used by bass or walleye anglers and perforce the pliers must be larger.   See photo below.

Bolt Cutters

From time-to-time, the best solution to a hook imbedded in something, a fish jaw, a fabric like the seat of someone’s jeans, or human flesh is to cut the hook.   Most long nose pliers include metal cutter jaws close to the xxxxx, but it is tough to get them close enough to a hook deep in a fish throat to cut the offending hook.   Further, usually those cutters are not up to the task of severing a 4/0 hook.

Bolt cutters eight inches long can do these tasks.   Go to the local hardware and tell the salesman you want small cutters able to cut a chain-link fence.   See photo below.

Split Ring Pliers

Many musky and pike lures attach hooks to the body with split rings.   A split ring suitable for the size of such lures cannot be opened with finger nails.   Don’t try.  

If you need to change hooks or do other operations affecting split rings, get a pair of split ring pliers larger than most anglers require.   See photo below.

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Long Nose Pliers Bolt Cutters Split Ring Pliers

Line Clippers

Braided lines call for monofilament or fluorocarbon leaders.   Nothing like a nice, sharp clipper to create a length of leader material.   Dr.   Bill Kraft, a Minneapolis area dentist, chastised me for biting monofilament.   He said, “When fishermen come in my office, I can tell right away they have been using their teeth to cut mono.   Not a good idea.” Since Bill’s admonishment, I’ve tried to do better.    See photo below.

Line Clippers

Final Thoughts

In the pictures accompanying this article, note my jaw spreaders have a length of cord attached.   My Plano tackle box has plastic loops molded into the box on each end.   I attach one end of the cord to the tackle box.   In Gordy’s angling career at least twice his partner for the day has used Gordy’s jaw spreader to unhook a fish, then thrown both fish and jaw spreader in the lake.   With my jaw spreader attached to the tackle box, if such a dumb move as throwing fish and spreader in the lake, the tackle box will save the jaw spreader.  

Fortunately for Gordy, the offending angler stopped at Gander Mountain in Duluth, bought several jaw spreaders and sent them to Gordy.

But forewarned, friends, is forearmed.



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           Last updated on March 10, 2018