After winning your fight with your monster fish, you finally get it to the surface. After you get it reeled in, it’s time to get it into the boat or remove the hook and let it swim away. That’s where your lip gripper comes in.
It makes lifting the fish into the boat a breeze and allows you to control the fish easily. This guide takes a look at the best fish lip grippers and explains why we love them.
When it comes to lifting fish into a boat there are two main options; nets and lip grippers.
Nets are convenient because they help land the fish immediately. Just dip it in the water and the fish is controlled. A major downside is having to detangle your hooks from the netting. They can get tangled while landing the fish or during storage and it is a major hassle to untangle them. Another downside is the amount of space they take up.
Also read: Best fishing backpacks
When fishing from a kayak or wading, every inch counts and nets just don’t cut it. Lip grippers, or fish grippers, are more compact than nets and still protect the fish while you’re handling it.
Many lip grippers are made from metal so corrosion resistance can be a concern. The Rapala is made from heavy-duty molded plastic so corrosion won’t be an issue. This gripper is lightweight and takes up almost no space.
Even though there’s no built-in scale, there is a hook to attach the gripper to an external scale so you’re still able to weigh your fish. A quick-release button opens the jaws with one push. This gripper might be a little too big for smaller fish, but a 6-inch option is also available. It has a built-in wrist strap that’s perfect for adding a lanyard. Overall, the gripper is packed with features and the only cons are minor inconveniences. This is a great pick for any kayak or wading anglers.
The ZACX lip gripper is a great budget option that’s designed well. The T-style handle is a good option that can be operated with one hand using either one or two fingers. The EVA handle keeps the grippers from slipping and provides a comfortable grip.
The vertical spring-loaded design of the jaws means they can be smaller than plier type grips, so they fit on fish lips of all sizes. The spring-loaded jaws are strong enough for heavier fish. The “big” downside of the ZACX grippers is that they don’t float, and it isn’t as easy to add your own lanyard as with some other grippers on this list.
The KastKing is a great kit to land and weigh your catch. The lip gripper is made from a low-density plastic, so it is corrosion resistant and floats. The handle is designed to allow easier gripping because it doesn’t use an EVA grip. The weight capacity is published at 55 lbs. so it should be able to hold all fish caught during kayaking or wading. The lip gripper is designed to be non-puncture to conform with current tournament rules. The total length is 10.23 inches and the gripper weighs under 2 ounces, so storage is possible even with extremely limited room.
The wrist strap is attached with a ring so if you need to add your own lanyard, the process is quick and easy. There aren’t a lot of downsides to this one and that should be expected for the premium price.
The only real complaint is that the jaws are smaller than other grippers on the list so they might not be a good choice for bigger fish. This also means that they excel at controlling smaller fish that other jaws might not be able to reach. Overall, if you’re looking for a great scale kit for tournament use, this is the way to go.
The Pisicfun Lip Gripper is the first one on the list with a built-in scale. The scale uses a gauge on a spring, so the measurements are adjustable to ensure accurate readings. Because of the spring mechanism, the handle is fully rotatable to make lifting fish into a kayak easier.
The gripper is made of aluminum to resist corrosion and the parts that are directly exposed are anodized. This makes them even more resistant to corrosion and adds a cool camo finish. A major difference of this gripper is the trigger design. Instead of a T-style trigger, a trigger is placed in the middle of the frame to allow easy releases with one finger.
Like many of our other recommendations, this gripper has a lanyard attached to a ring to make it easier to add your own.
The ZANMAX Portable Tackle Combo is a great multitool option. Instead of carrying a separate gripper, scale, and tape measure, it is all fit into one unit. An EVA handle makes gripping it more secure and comfortable.
The scale is rated for up to 40 lbs., but people have said it is inaccurate for fish weighing under 5 lbs. The built-in tape can measure fish up to 3 ft in length. A possible issue with the unit is that the measuring tape is made of steel, so it isn’t corrosion resistant. Like other options on the list, it doesn’t float but it has a wrist strap attached with a ring.
When shopping for the best lip grippers, there are a few things to consider.
Price is should be an important factor in your buying decision because a cheap gripper might not have the quality needed to reliably land bigger fish and some higher-priced options don’t add anything of value compared to cheaper options.
Some budget options like the ZACX can provide quality and a low price. Money saved from buying a reasonably priced lip gripper can be spent on a quality bass rod, catfish rod or that baitcasting reel you've been dying to get your hands on.
Functionality is another important factor to take into consideration. You can choose anything from a basic gripper to one packed with tools to measure your big catch. The important part is that it works well for what you expect.
Sometimes simple is better and a basic gripper may be all you need. Other times it makes more sense to carry a multitool set to cut down on items in your tackle box.
Another aspect of functionality is how well you’re able to control the gripper. If a plier style has a grip wide enough you need to use both hands, it’s essentially useless.
Durability, including corrosion resistance and the strength of the springs and levers that make up the gripper, are something to consider when deciding on something that will be part of your kit for years to come.
The most important factor when choosing and using a lip gripper is safety for both you and the fish. A good set of lip grippers will keep your hands clear of the fish’s teeth and your own hooks and will keep the fish under control.
The jaws should be non-puncture to ensure the fish isn’t harmed while you’re handling it. A strong grip will also ensure the fish isn’t accidentally dropped while you’re unhooking or even posing with it.
Now you should have a solid foundation for choosing a lip grabber tool to go with. Whether you want a premium model with built-in scale or want the best choice for the money, you should be set with the above suggestions.
In our opinion, the best fish lip gripper overall is the Rapala 9-inch gripper. It is highly budget-friendly yet it remains effective and durable for time to come. If you want to spend a bit more to get all the bells and whistles, the KastKing grabber is our designated choice.
Time to make life easier for yourself and relieve the burden of handling slippery fish with your bare hands.