Reviewed by: CAPT. MIKE SCHOONVELD
The actual name for this tool is the Bubba 6.5″ Pistol Grip Pliers. “Bubba,” besides the fictional name of one of Forest Gump’s friends and the nickname of many southern politicians, is recognizable in the fishing world as the brand name for a line of high quality fishing knives – Bubba Blades. So when Bubba expanded to start producing other fishing products, I was pretty sure the new tools would be both well designed and tough as nails.
I’ve had several pairs of bent tip boat pliers over the years. I liked them. I found the curved tip less than perfect for many needle-nose plier uses but they excelled at my number one use for them – unhooking fish. The pistol grip Bubba pliers looked to be a design worth investigating.
Bubba makes two models of pistol grip pliers (as well as conventionally shaped needle nosers), the 6.5 and a larger, 8.5 inch model. Other than size, the biggest difference is the smaller version has tiny, split ring opener “beak” at the tip. The split ring tool was what sold me.
It seems as though I need to work on a split ring every few trips so I do keep a split ring tool on the boat – squirreled away so I don’t lose them – squirreled away so they aren’t handy when I need them. Having the split ring opener right on the same pliers I keep in the working area of the boat where all the fish unhooking is done is helpful. I’ve used the ring opener many times.
I’ve used the pliers to unhook fish dozens and dozens of times and the pistol grip shape is the equal of the bent-tip shape pliers, facilitating a quick easy hook removal and actually helps keep my fingers away from the sharp teeth on salmon, trout and walleyes better than curved or conventional pliers. It’s especially true on those fish which are hooked deep in their mouth. The split ring beak does double duty when a particularly stubborn hook is encountered. The beak keeps the jaws from slipping off the hook when tugging harder than usual. Who’d have thought?
They are stainless steel so no rust on the pair I’ve used for the last two months or so. It has a sharp line/wire cutter which works well. The bright red handle grips are non-slip and comfortable – most important – and easy to see when it’s time to pull them out of my “junk drawer” where they are stowed when not in use.
Available in retail outlets, at http://www.bubbablade.com and at Amazon.com.