Sunday Classic / Unhook Thyself! Safe, Painless Hook Removal

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Nice Drying Patch! Photo by Louis Cahill

If you’ve been thinking, “I love Gink and Gasoline but I wish it could be more like Jackass”, then today is the day your dreams come true!

There are two kinds of fishermen. The ones who have hooked themselves and the ones who are about to. It’s a bad feeling the first time you put a big streamer hook in yourself past the barb. You feel pretty helpless if you don’t know how to handle it. I’ve done it many times and I’m here to tell you that there is an easy, and even painless, way to get that hook out. As a veteran guide Kent has had to do it plenty and he’s a master. He’s taken hooks out of clients without them even knowing it was done.

We’ve been wanting to do this video for some time. We kept waiting for one of us to get hooked but it hasn’t happened so on a recent float on the South Holston with the guys from Southern Culture on the Fly and Bent Rod Media I decided to take things in hand and hook myself so we could show you how to deal with it. I have to say, it was harder to get that hook in past the barb than I thought. If you listen closely you can hear Dave Grossman of SCOF almost lose his lunch.

So watch and learn and please, share the video with someone. I don’t want to do this again! Thanks to Dave and Steve of SCOF and Ryan Dunn of BRM and Appalachian Fly Guides for a great day of fishing and all the help with the video.

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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11 thoughts on “Sunday Classic / Unhook Thyself! Safe, Painless Hook Removal

  1. Next time you decide to do a little demo, go with the fleshy part of the thigh, NOT near the veins, key nerves and ligaments on the inside of a forearm…
    Second, PBR is NOT an effective sterlizing agent.

    Third, on the count of three Kent made a crucial mistake, you say: “One, Two, YANK, Three!” so the “victim” flinches on “Three!” and the hook is already gone…

    Fourth, don’t do this hook removal without leaving a 4-5 inch length of tippet still attached to the hook eye, otherwise you will spend 20 minutes looking for a green caddis nymph on your hands and knees in the green indoor outdoor carpeting outside the flyshop at Black Hawk Flyfishing in Clarkesville, GA, because it is where everybody walks around barefoot before/after they put on/off their waders, and you wouldn’t want to have to do a second hook removal. (Besides, Abby would kill you if one of her black labs stepped on the missing caddis fly!), and if you’d thought to have a second camera running in close-up…Oops, did I just say that last part out loud?}
    THANKS GUYS, and tightlines in Andros!

  2. Thanks for the sacrifice, Louis. This is an important lesson. We do this demo for boy scouts (Fly Fishing Merit Badge) and our TU members (Fly Fishing 101), but we use neoprene cozies on the forearm instead of flesh so each participant can yank out a hook. Our demos work, everyone learns what it takes to yank properly, and no guide endures pain or potential injury in the process. We also do barbed and barbless to show how effective debarbing the hook is in ease of removal (and thus less potential damage). We do keep mono on the hook so it can be found as suggested in a prior post.

    A couple more points: Always make sure you remove the hook in a direction away from yourself (and especially your eyes) and there is no one in the line of removal. This was done correctly in the video but not explained.

    Hook removal by this process from loose, fleshy areas (like the lip or cheek) can be very problematic. The flesh needs to be held against the bone to allow safe removal. Sometimes just holding the eye of the hook down is not enough. It may be safer to get medical help unless you want to risk tearing, a scar, and great pain.

    Never remove a hook in or near the eye socket. Go to the ER.
    Likewise, removal of a big hook near tendons and blood vessels can be very harmful and may be better done in the ER. The first tenet is “do no harm”.

    Obviously, since I teach the process, I believe in it under the right circumstances. I have successfully used the process on a friend. I would do it on my sons or grandkids if the hook is in the right place. However, I would not do it on a stranger. Even with someone I know, if there is any question on location, or potential harm, or if there is any hesitation on my part or on the part of the hooked person, I would get the person to a professional.

  3. As a flyfisherman and ER nurse I’ve used this technique several times, it is slick! Patients are always amazed that the hook is gone!

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  5. Ouch Louis!! Cringe! Watching you stick yourself was gruesome. Thanks for the demo.

    I only have one thing to add. The Mr. Hankey(the fly used for your demo)is tied with a trailing hook. When removing a fly with a trailing hook separate it by cutting the trailing hook from the fly. Otherwise the shank(and it’s probably sharp) that the body of the fly is tied with will injure your buddy when he yanks on the mono to remove your hook.

  6. A much safer technique is to use a hypodermic needle slightly larger than the wire diameter of the hook. Follow the point down to the barb with the needle point side away from the barb engage and cover the barb with with the tube and withdraw. Less painful and much less tissue damage than the yank method described. With larger hooks tubing from aerosol applicators or cocktail straws may be used.

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