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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40 thoughts on “Unhook Thyself! Safe, Painless Hook Removal

  1. holy crap, that’s awesome… last year it took me 45 minutes to get one out of the tip of my ring finger after a fish somehow spit it into my finger during release. Sure wish I had this video last year.

  2. Wouah! Set a hook pass the barb in your arm Louis, that’s a commitment to inform us whatever it takes! And you did it twice!
    I will share it for sure.


  3. Hooked myself in the finger. Did basically the same thing but used a full water bottle tied onto a string to do the yanking. Took me a full 45 minutes to work up the courage to drop the bottle though 🙂

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  5. Dude great video once again and every time I watch it I crack up at Dave in the background lol…. I think we need to do a video on how to take on a bull shark when wading for bonefish on the flats… Seriously..

  6. Way to take one for the team Louis. May not have hurt coming out, but I am sure it didn’t feel good going in, twice.

    As for dropping the water bottle, seriously creative.

    Lastly, a piece of fly line also works well because you can grip it a little easier than mono, at least for me. One trick that Lefty showed me was that you tell the person that you are going to go on 3, then pull at 2 so that the person isn’t pulling away from you or naturally flinching. That keeps the full pressure on the head of the hook.

    Really appreciate the video and it will be forwarded to all my fishing buddies.

  7. Kent,
    Thanks for the wonderful information – in which I hope I never have to apply it. You’re taking me back to my Army days, with poor old Louis- “Demonstrator, Post”. That’s when you knew you drew the short stick.

  8. Pingback: Hooked past the barb? « Mountains to Marsh

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  10. I’ve been using this technique for years; one thing to add. Most ‘hookees’ are quite squeamish and flinch as you get to “three”in the countdown. I now always tell them that I am going to tug at the count of “three.” I tug at “one.” They don’t have time to flinch or fret. It’s done before they know it.

    I had to teach an Alaskan guide how to take an articulated leach out of my neck, this way. He wanted to go back to the lodge to get his wire cutters and the Silvers were on. I wasn’t leaving.

  11. Great video!
    Last king season in AK we had 3 piercings in one week two of which were in the face.
    One thing to add to this technique and especially if the fly has a trailing hook, is to cut and remove the trailing hook from fly. This will prevent the surgeon from getting injured. It didn’t look like it happened in the video but as the hook is removed with great force,as in the demonstration, the next object coming past the surgeon’s thumb is the end of the(usually somewhat sharp)hook shank that the fly was tied onto. Yeeowch!!
    This is why we now have a barbless only policy.
    Thanks for taking one in the a**, Louis.

  12. Couple of additions…Next time Louis, you drink the beer, then use a little vodka or isopropyl alcohol to sterilize the hook! Beer isn’t strong enough…

    Second: Demo it on the outside of your forearm…too many veins on the inside of your arm.

    Third: Use enough mono to take several wraps around the hand that will be pulling the hook free. The length you used, even with the knots at the end, could easily slip from the grip, especially if the the person pulling the hook has sweaty palms, which is likely in the outdoors dealing with this situation.

  13. Great video, thanks for taking one for the team. You’re right to focus on speed, it’s the key to getting back to fishing as soon as possible.

    I keep track of flys and rigs that have bit me – they have an extra dose of mojo. I swear I have better results with these mean hearted flys.

  14. Despite the warnings to not try that at home, i had to give it a shot to prove to some buddies that the video wasn’t fake. I was surprised how much force that you needed in order to get the hook past the barb. you barely feel a thing though more like having blood taken then anything.

    • That shocked me too. I’ve hooked myself plenty but that was the first time I did it on purpose. The amount of force it took has made me rethink my hook set. You can tell your buddies that I’m flattered that they think I could fake that. I assure you we have no special effects budget! Thanks for standing up for me and taking one for the team! Email me your address and I’ll send you a Gink and Gasoline sticker for your pain and suffering.

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  16. Sorry guys but there is now a Christmas tree fly video up there. What happened to the Hook removal video. Been trying to find it.

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  18. That made me sick to my stomach for a second! Way to take one for the team though! I hit myself in the back with a streamer a few wks ago on a windy day- thankfully I just had to cut it out of my jacket! That’s why I wear hoodies in Alaska- mosquito and streamer deterrants;) Good to know, thanks!

  19. Definitely works! I have yet to do it for a client, but I’m sure will have to soon. The only problem with this method is that the fly gets launched into the river or whatever is behind you. I was tearing up the cut throats on the Snake River this past summer when a cut stuck a gold stone nymph in my finger. Guide popped it right out while I drank a beer. Great! Except that was the only golden stone of that pattern that we had and it was working quite well. When he pulled, it went sailing into the Snake. Oh well, we still caught fish the rest of the trip!

    I’m thinking you could wrap the line around the bend of the hook a few times and maybe it would hold the fly instead of launching it onto the bank!

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