Fishing is a great way to relax and catch some dinner, but occasionally hooks wind up in the fisher and not the fish. Most fish hooks can be removed on-site, however, precautions should always be taken to avoid bleeding, infection or additional injury. Any injury to the eye or other sensitive area should be seen by a qualified physician as soon as possible and not dealt with on-site.
The simplest fish hook removal method, the retrograde technique also has one of the lowest success rates. Retrograde removal works best for hooks with no barbs or those embedded shallowly in the skin. It is not advisable for hooks with barbs along the back of the hook as it will cause significant injury and bleeding. To perform a retrograde removal, apply downward pressure to the straight part of the hook, pulling the barb off the flesh, then slowly pull the hook out through the injury. If you feel tugging or resistance stop, as this is likely the barb catching and causing further injury.
String Yank Technique
The string yank technique is an improved version of the retrograde technique that works better on deep punctures. It should not be used on hooks in ears or especially loose flesh, since the force applied can cause further injury. The string yank technique is a fish hook removal method that may require two or more people assisting. Tie a string midway along the curve of the fish hook and apply downward pressure on the rear of the hook. Line the straight of the hook up with the injury and make sure that they are parallel, then yank the hook out in one fluid motion. Make sure the injury is well-stabilized and stand clear of the string when pulled so that no one else gets hooked.
Advance and Cut Technique
The advance and cut technique requires a pair of bolt or wire cutters strong enough to cut metal. This method of fishing hook removal is always successful, however, it always causes additional injury. The first step of removal is to advance the fish hook through the wound until it punctures through to the surface. Once you have the head of the hook out, snip the barb off with your cutters. Try to get a clean cut without bending or flaying the edges. Pull the headless hook out slowly through the initial entry wound slowly to avoid tearing the damaged flesh. For rear barbed hooks, push the hook through the exit wound to avoid tearing backward. Sterilize your cutters before attempting this procedure and provide plenty of disinfection to the wound to avoid infection.