Maybe it’s because I have pretty fat, not too delicate fingers, but changing split rings and hooks on lures has been a constant thorn in my side. And with the amount of lurefishing I do, I change a lot of hooks.
Most split ring pliers have a simple triangle lip on the top jaw that hangs over the end of the bottom jaw. This works fine sometimes, but often I kick the split ring around and stab myself in the finger with the chemically sharpened hook. These standard split ring pliers also have a habit of not working very well on the heavier split rings needed for bigger, stronger fish, like cod.
I was thrilled when I discovered Texas Tackle split ring pliers at Gold Coast Tackle. These pliers were different from other pliers and should be available at all Tackle World affiliated stores in Australia. They’re well worth the time tracking down. I’d even go so far to say that if you change a lot of hooks, just get a set of the pliers. They’re that good!
Unlike other split ring pliers, these ones have a triangle moulding on the top jaw that sits on the bottom jaw. This allows anglers to sit the split on the flat arm and simply depress the triangle arm into the split ring. 99 times out of 100 the split ring opens up perfectly. As the manufacturers at Texas Tackle said, “It's a new design that works like it’s supposed to”. I couldn’t agree more.
The pliers are made of high quality surgical stainless steel for corrosion resistance and a dependable long life, and the soft handles are comfortable in the hand. The pliers are a great size for putting in your pocket or storing in the bottom of your tackle box. They should go everywhere you do!
At present there are two models available: small and large. The small size is perfect for little lures that bass, bream, trout and estuary anglers use. I’ve even used the small pliers to change standard hooks and rings on StumpJumpers, Custom Crafted Hammerheads and Bombers. The whole changeover process for these two and three treble lures takes me about two minutes.
One of the best features of the small pliers is that the bottom arm has a diameter small enough to fit through almost every split ring on the market. Even Rapala CD3 lures can have their hooks changed over easily, which is great for southern trout anglers who love to make each strike count. It also means that bass and bream anglers are able to change trebles easily. This is great given the rediscovery of hard-bodied lures for bream, like the Ecogear SX40, that have very small hooks and rings.
The larger pair of pliers are a bit more robust than the smaller pair and are ideally suited to standard barra, Murray cod and golden perch lures and light saltwater lures. At a pinch they will also act as hook removers, but I’d do this as a last resort because I wouldn’t want to risk offsetting the arms so the pliers couldn’t perform their primary task properly.
If you go too large when changing split rings and hooks with these pliers you can actually damage them. Split rings that are 4x and above should be avoided, and if you’re trying to jam a 6/0 or bigger treble inside a split ring, the triangle opener won’t open the split ring far enough. As you struggle with the heavier tackle you can offset the jaws or even bend the arms a little. So there are some limitations to the pliers.
But if you’re into tackle that big, you’re chasing serious fish so you’ll most likely have a system of hook changing worked out for yourself anyway.
And like every set of split ring pliers on the market I’ve seen, they sink. I found this out the hard way, but was lucky enough to have a keen mate onboard who jumped in after them and shuffled around in the mud until he found them. While the pliers are not hugely expensive, you still want to take precautions to minimise their loss.
If you are struggling to find these pliers at your local Tackle World store, give Gold Coast Tackle a call on (07) 5531 0755. They can mail order them direct to your door.