A Review of Five Fish Grips
We reviewed 20 brands of fish grips for this article. Included are five recommended models, ranging in price from $15.00 to $230.00.
The elder statesmen of angling – the guys and gals who have been plying the waters for decades -- recall when there was no such thing as fish grips. Prior to the BogaGrip hitting the market in 1993, anglers used their hands, a rag, and a pair of pliers to try and hold a struggling fish while they removed the hook or measured the fish. Well times have changed.
Overview of Quality Fish Grips
Many varieties of hand-held fish grips are available today. We reviewed 20 brands of fish grips for this article. Here we recommend five models, ranging in price from $15.00 to $230.00.
NOTE: We wrote this article without bias to help you make a good decision about fish grips. We at The Online Fisherman Inc. have no vested interest in any of the featured fish grips.
The Original Boga Fish Grip
We will start with the best – the BogaGrip. One of the reasons this tool has such a stellar reputation is that it lasts. It lasts because it is made from the best-grade steel, in a machine shop by the same guys who invented it in 1993. Although these fish grips are expensive -- you will invest more than $100 to buy one -- it will pay for itself over time in less lost fish, less busted knuckles, and no need to buy a replacement every couple of years due to cheap parts breaking, or rust penetrating the (not so) stainless steel. The built-in scale is accurate to within one increment.
Product Review - BogaGrip Models – The three different BogaGrip models weigh fish at limits of 15, 30 or 60 pounds, although they can all be used to grip and weigh fish above the stated limits. Prices vary based on size and scale capability.
At the time of this publication, prices from Amazon are: The 15-pound scale (Model 315) costs about $115; the 30-pound scale (Model 130) costs about $120; and the 60-pound scale (Model 260) costs about $230. (Check daily special pricing at Amazon prior to purchase).
Product Review - BogaGrip Model 130 - Price - $120.00 on Amazon.com
- Weight of the fish causes the prongs to shut even tighter.
- Locking mechanism keeps prongs in tightest position.
- Swivel motion eliminates torque from a spinning fish.
- Shock absorber dampens a fish's attempt to get free.
When I spoke with one of the two owners of BogaGrip, Gary Alldredge, he told me that back in 1993, he and his business partner, Charles Camp, did a lot of fishing for stripers in Alabama lakes. They owned a machine shop and Charles was looking for a better way to grab the fish without hurting them, and without making a mess of the fish’s slime coat. At that time, no company was making “fish grips.”
The two men invented a few prototypes, put some handles on them, and rented a booth at a fishing tackle show. They got some orders and adjusted the machine shop to make more BogaGrips. Gary said they still do all the machining work and quality-control in-house.
Plastic Fish Grips Have Advantages
The second Fish Grip we reviewed is simply called the Fish Grip and is made by United Plastics. A similar one is made by Norton. They are both priced under $20, are mostly plastic, and float on water. The Captains we spoke with said they are good products for the money.
Wet hands and a good plastic fish grip is an inexpensive way to catch-and-release.
Product Review - United Plastics Fish Grip - Price - $15.00 on Amazon.com
- Made of 85% plastic – won’t sink
- Large grabber lips work on big fish
- Lifts up to 50 lbs. easily
- Lightweight unit is easy to carry when wading etc.
This versatile and well-priced fish grip has a 4.7 out of 5 possible stars, rated by users who reviewed it for Amazon. It comes with a weight scale slot, which means you add a scale and deduct 5 ounces. It has a wrist lanyard, and unlike its all-steel competitors, not only floats but glows in the dark. Plastic grips may cause less injuries to the fish and the angler. Max scale capacity is 50 lbs. The Fish Grip from United Plastics is an excellent alternative to expensive grip devices.
The Best Three in Low-Priced Fish Grips
The following fish grips are priced in the low-to-mid-range, and have various benefits and drawbacks. The first one we reviewed is the Rapala Fish Gripper, made from aluminum. It has mostly positive reviews. Some of our fellow anglers use one of the several Rapala models, and none of them had any major complaints about them.
1.) Product Review - Rapala Aluminum Fish Gripper – 50-lb. Scale - Price - $30.00
- Corrosion-resistant Aluminum
- Soft Grip handle
- Wrist Lanyard
- Weight indicated in one pound increments
The lighter aluminum makes for less weight on your person when fishing sans boat. Aluminum does not rust – period. The scale is not as accurate as some, but you get a good idea if you’re anywhere near a record fish. No complaints about the unit working as supposed to. Nice price.
For a unit priced at $20, the Rippin Lips Gripper has very good reviews. Out of 21 people, most gave it 4.5 stars. The only consistent criticism was that the ‘non-slip’ rubber handle grip is fairly slippery when wet. Some anglers glued bicycle handle grips on top of the stock ones and said they’re happy with the rest of the unit. This unit does not have a built-in scale or tape measure.
2.) Rippin Lips Big Fish Gripper – Weighs Fish to 50 lbs. - $20.00
- Stainless steel jaws to protect against rust
- Weighs fish up to 50 lbs. with built-in scale
- Non-slip grip design
The Rippin Lips company has recently come out with a new, “beefier” model called the PRO Big Fish Lip Gripper that sells for $30. Their website says it has simple ‘one-hand operation’ and that stainless steel will not rust. They also promote the non-slip handles. It looks “beefier” than their lower-priced model, but we could not find anyone who has used one as they are too new.
Lastly, we reviewed the fish grips made by Berkley, a well-known name in the fishing supply industry. Berkley makes a few versions of fish grips, but we could only recommend one model.
3.) Berkley Big Game TM Fish Lip Grip - $22.00
- Studded rubber handle has good grip.
- Light spring action only requires one finger to operate.
- Big grip-end excellent for toothy fish.
- Provides firm lock on the fish’s lip.
The Berkley model shown below, which sells for less than $25, has good reviews overall. As with some others in this price range, it does not have a built-in scale or tape measure. Since those items are available separately and don’t cost very much, this is a good choice if you just need something to grip the fish with. It gets a 4.4 out of 5 stars on Amazon reviews, and two-thirds of the 26 people who reviewed it gave it 5 stars.
Benefits of the Berkley unit are that it is not heavy on the wrist, the trigger is not too tight so it’s easy to use with one hand, and it handles fish up to 50 lbs. with no problem. Friends of the site say it works fine – no extras but does the job it’s meant to do. Drawback include you must keep your hand forward on the handle to prevent it from pushing up when a fish thrashes around, and the lip-grip is too large for smaller fish.
You Get What You Pay For
In closing, if you intend on doing a good amount of fishing for the next couple of decades, we highly recommend investing the extra money in a BogaGrip. If you utilize the float device, it eliminates the worry of it dropping it in the water. If you’re just a Sunday duffer and don’t get on the water much – but still like to catch-and-release a fish now and then – you can certainly use the Berkley, or the plastic Fish Grips by United Plastics. But if fishing is a lifetime passion and you catch a bunch of fish, you likely want to have a tool that does the best job over the long run, and according to the experts, that would be the BogaGrip.
If you are conservation-minded and practice catch-and-release regularly, a good pair of fish grips and a hook remover will save many fish. The less you handle the fish, the better. If you do have to touch it with your hands, be sure to wet them first. That way, the fish’s protective slime-coat will not come off on your hands.