Fishing Hemostats

Fishing Hemostats: What Are They? Alternative Uses Like Knot Tying and Barb Pinching

Fishing hemostats have a great reputation as a fishing tool. Here's why you need a pair.

Medically speaking, a hemostat is a tool from the surgical community used primarily as an instrument for preventing the flow of blood from an open blood vessel by the compression, or pinching, of that vessel.

Sure, but that's just a fancy way of saying that it is a gadget that handles like a pair of scissors, opens and closes to grip an item, and can lock on the item to hold it in place while we work on it. For the angling crowd, it's great for when we're using a smaller fly or when the conditions calls for a smaller hook.

Some may call them forceps, others may call them just hemos, but these unassuming little tools can really come in handy.

We'll go ahead and say that this particular tool, when used as a fishing implement, is mostly done by the fly fishing community (in some circles they're known as a fly fishing clamp or sometimes fly fishing pliers), but certainly has uses for all anglers in general. 

Fly Fishing Hemostat Uses

Fly fishing uses many flies and lighter lines for leaders that are sometimes difficult to get a grip on. I like to think some enterprising angler somewhere, one that was probably a doctor, had the great idea to use one of these very intricate tools to grip a fly. At some point it took off, fishing brands recognized it, and the rest is history.

So what else are they good for? Well, here are a few good reasons to have a pair of fishing hemostats in your tackle bag at all times.

Knot Tying

A hard time holding onto a tiny fly while tying it to line is no longer an issue with a good pair of hemos. There are even a few good tips and tricks that you can only pull off with hemos. Trust me, having a tool that can grip and hold the tiniest of flies can save you when you're standing in a stream up to your waist.

The clinch knot, tippet knot, and the triple surgeon's knot are all examples of knots that we can tie with the help of a pair of hemostats.

Hook Extraction

If you've done a lot of pike fishing then you'll understand the need for a good pair of fishing pliers to remove a set of treble hooks away from those razor sharp teeth. In small stream trout fishing (or even larger river Atlantic salmon fishing), the likelihood of safely removing a hook increases with a pair of fishing hemostats.

Particularly when fishing for brook trout in pristine and fabled streams where the populations have been around for many years, a pair of hemos can get the job done quickly to alleviate the stress on the fish and get it back in the water.

Pinching the Barb

For most fly anglers, this is a serious discussion in the community. The fact is, many public trout streams the world over require fishermen to use barbless hooks only to take away much of the risk to wild populations of fish. It's a rule, so in order to fish some places, you've got to follow it.

It's yet another reason to have a pair of fishing hemostats on your person, since many flies come with manufactured barbs. Even hand-tied flies tend to have a barb these days by default, making it necessary to pinch them in some cases. A pair of needle-nose pliers can be too bulky to do the job, but hemostats work well.

Other Common Hemostat Uses

Fly selection and fly organization are among the highly debated fly fishing terms, but until you try to take a tiny fly from your fly box with cold, wet fingers you'll never realize the importance of a tool like hemostats. Not only that, but replacing the fly after its use is best done with your fishing clamp to keep it from ending up on the bank, or worse, in the stream.

It doesn't happen very often, but if you need to straighten out a bent hook, and a pair of hemos can make it an easier process. For those occasions when a hook extraction is necessary on something besides a fish's mouth, like an overhanging tree branch or the PFD you're wearing, this a tool tailor made for doing the job.

Who knows, the hook may end up in your vest, your arm, or your ear, but having hemostats can save a day of fishing.

Best Hemostat Options

A good pair of fishing hemostats should offer a sturdy construction, locking grips, integrated cutting shears, and be able to withstand getting wet. If it has a curved tip or a lanyard, that's a bonus.

SMSFX Fishing Hemostat

The SAMFX curved hemostat offers a durable grip that can be used in freshwater or saltwater, and features a lanyard that can clip to a fly vest, sling, or backpack easily. They're a combo hemostat and set of shears, capable of cutting line or tippet when needed.

As Amazon product descriptions tend to do, this one reminds you these are not only for fly fishing. You can use these for clamping, minor repairs, or crafts, because the fine precision curved tip is so useful as a strong grip on smaller objects.

Berkley 6-Inch Locking Pliers

This pair is a basic model for basic fishing needs, but comes with the venerable Berkley name. It doesn't have all of the same features as some more expensive pairs, but it does include non-slip grips, an all-stainless steel construction, and a larger nose for uses well beyond fly tying or hook removal.

Hemostats as a Fishing Tool

Hemostats are an important piece of fishing gear. Every fisherman should have a pair of these in some form or another at their beck and call to use at a moment's notice, whether they're wading, boating, or standing on shore.

Hemostats have proven their usefulness to the fishing community, and it's time you're convinced of their role, too.

Products featured on Wide Open Spaces are independently selected by our writers and editors. However, when you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Looking for a little more or even hot lunch for your hunting blind? Follow my webpage, or on Facebook and YouTube.