I want to discuss fish grips now they are starting to crop up in Instagram posts, with certain people who are influential in the world of fishing using them they're going to surely take off but we need to be careful, this is not a dig at anyone, friends have them and have made posts about them and but it's been worrying me the influence and affect this might have on others so i wanted to challenge your thoughts.
Firstly, let's take a look at fish grips, what are they and where have they come from?
Fish grips dominate the light game scene in Japan, they are essentially food tongs with sharp, hard spikes on them to grip a fish to allow you to unhook and photograph the fish without handling it to avoid scratches and being spiked by fish.
They come in a variety of styles and colours but ultimately they all have the same function, to hold a fish.
So, whats the problem?
The first fish i caught was a corkwing wrasse as a child, it spiked me, it hurt for 30 seconds and then i was back to being ok, it never put me off and I've never worried about holding saltwater fish, I never had anyone to help me to learn to handle pike and perch though when i finally switched to freshwater and that scared me a bit so i wore gloves to the detriment of the fish. In the pike scene there were gags to hold the fishes mouth open that i read about when i started and i think if i'd have seen influential anglers using them i'd have used those, fortunately there was a lot of bad press about the damage they made and i didn't go there, i brought some cool, soft musky gloves from Chico's Lures and used them until i got the confidence.
I'm now watching the fish grips come in and potentially become the next gag and I'm concerned, again, this isn't a dig at anyone but lets discuss it.
In the UK we generally fish catch and release whereas in Japan it's mostly catch and keep of the species they use the fish grips for.
In the UK with the weever as an exception don't have to worry about poisonous fish, teeth and spikes may give you a little nick but they aren't going to hurt you for long.
Most if not all fish barring pout generally swim off strong after handling and unhooking and there is still no concrete proof mackerel die when handled, even if it were the case that they die I'm not sure the grip is going to help with saving them.
So why are we looking at fish grips? My first thought is that it's fashion, we've seen Japan do it and now we want a go, my next thought is some would use them to ensure their hands don't get hurt.
What's the problem? What's the point in this blog you might be thinking now.
Well, ive seen a few photos of scad, mackerel, garfish and even bream (I want to facepalm here) being held in grips, I doubt if any no more than a handful were kept for food and most of them will have swam away with heavy damage to their scales and no doubt their internal organs and the problem lies with the fish grips themselves.
The grips I've seen and used are not fish friendly, they are made from hard plastic with an array of pyramid type spikes.
I first brought some for use in Greece when unhooking the Dusky Spinefoot and Weever fish, they were good for that but were not good for the fish, I tried them on larger fish like lizard fish and giant gobies and was really shook by the damage caused to the scales and felt it couldn't be doing the fish much good internally as I was having to squeeze the spikes into the fish to get it to grip properly and as the pelagic fish writhed and wriggled it caused more damage.
I also tried them with species back home found them to be quite abrasive taking too many scales from mackerel and garfish.
If you're going to tell me your experience is different I look forward to learning but my experience with grips is enough to know I don't want to use them for fish in the UK, I still own them for fish overseas.
Wider reaching issue?
Ok, I write this without ego as someone who has undoubtedly influenced others in their fishing, maybe not so much now but previously when I was more active on social media I know that was I said and did had direct influence on what others do, we get inspired from Japan, UK and anglers globally get inspired by the likes of Ben Bassett, Rich Salter, Adam Kirby etc.
There are younger anglers following us all and taking the lead from us on what's cool to both use and do, we've got to set the right example here, if you're reading this and are active, with a public profile on social media it's referring to you as we're all stakeholders in our sport in this respect.
LRF is small, we are mostly moving in a small echo chamber compared to perch, pike and bass lure fishing in the UK.
My concern is not only do people use these grips with UK salt species that they then use them in freshwater for perch, pike chub and trout and there will be a huge trickle down of unwanted attention and criticism in those circles, it'll be detrimental to the sport and individuals names.
I've seen people being called out with a lot of vitriol for using Boga Grips with pike, I wouldn't want friends to have the same with the perch community.
I might be wide of the mark here but I couldn't not say something. I welcome the discussion on social media or in the comments box below and will update the blog posts with views and thoughts of others if the conversation is worth seeing.
Images from https://www.daiichiseiko.com/?lang=en