The original Boga Grip popular with many saltwater anglers
That's not to say the Boga -- as popular as it is among the real toy-junkies amongst us -- is the only way to go when seeking an expensive and quick-to-sink tool for grabbing that prize redfish by the lower jaw without punching a hole in it. We found a Rapala grabber - an ugly one - for only $30, and fish-gripper pliers for only $9.
Rapala's offering on the left, and a simple pair of $9 Fish Grippers on the right
Over the past months, in getting ready to start writing these product reviews, we've been offered a lot of different things to try out - from inexpensive to quite costly. Of all the things we've played with, though, the one chosen for our first review was a simple pair of plastic fish grips.
A cheap alternative to the expensive Bogas many of us carry, much more practical than medieval grippers like the Rapala appears to be (we haven't even asked them for one to try out; its mere appearance in a tackle box would not only take up very valuable real estate, but would undoubtedly scare any respectable redfish within a mile of the boat it was on), and just cooler than the simple gripper pliers. The authors must confess, however, that those weird gripper pliers have been in a bag or two over the years.
The one that caught our interest though, and the winner of the first Captain Mel Insiders product review is from a company that also sent us another review product - a company called Norton Brass Rattlers, Inc. The other products to be reviewed are a collection of well-made rattler spoons, but that is for a later discussion. For now, let's talk about the Fish Grip.
The first time we saw the Fish Grip, it seemed to make perfect sense; a click-mechanism at the handle-end of the device locks it shut; but the rectangular and what appear to be safe jaws (to the fish, at least; the grip is way to hard to try on your own fingers, much less lower lip) at one end and the lock at the other made them look very useable.
The Fish Grip from Norton is an excellent and cheap (and floating) alternative to expensive grip devices like the Boga Grip, or even inexpensive alternatives that occupy space in your bag and eventually rust.
So we took them out of the plastic wrapping. The first time three (of five) of us opened and closed them, we felt they were way too tight at first, and thought of ways to correct what appeared to be an engineering or construction problem. Two hours later (or the next day on one of the boats) they had softened up tremendously, and proved - in the mouth of actual fish-to be as effective as we first thought they would be. The ˜tightness" we deemed as a bad thing the first time they came out of their wrapping went away in minutes. This was true for all of us; they were tight at first and great once you opened them and locked them five or six times.
At this point we've used them on redfish, snook (before the freeze, of course) and even nearshore for kingfish. The latter gave them quite a set of toothmarks, but the relatively soft plastic shows signs of trout-teeth on Dale's grips.
All in all, though - and for less then $15 - the grips are an excellent addition to your bag. If you're thinking of - or close to buying a Boga for more than $120, we would definitely tell you to consider the product.
Two other things. It floats and never rusts. If you're among the army of us that have watched in sadness as our money sunk into soft sand 12 feet underneath our boats, have faith that the Fish Grip will stay afloat. Although they - like their much more expensive (or ugly) metallic (and rusting when you bought them) cousins - offer a wrist-wrap lanyard of sorts, they float whether you tie them to your body or not. Not a minor consideration in these days of tight dollars and diminishing gotta-have-toy-lists.