The hardest-working doodad

Posted 4/7/23

Fishing is one of those pastimes that comes with lots of accessories. LOTS of accessories.

If I had to whittle it down, I could confidently say that of all the gear and tackle and tools …

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The hardest-working doodad


Fishing is one of those pastimes that comes with lots of accessories. LOTS of accessories.

If I had to whittle it down, I could confidently say that of all the gear and tackle and tools available, about 90 percent of it is largely useless, or at the very least redundant.

At its core, fishing requires just a few things. A rod/reel combo, a hook and bait. If you want to be technical, you could even reduce that down to a line and hook with some bait.

But even if you want to be as simplistic as that, you still need one tool. A nipper. I call it a nipper, but there are many names for it, depending on the iteration you choose. You can use a knife, or scissors, or a fancy multi-tool sold at the outfitters with a built-in compass, fish scale, toothpick and GPS with a British accent. I joke, but I think I’ve made my point.

The only useful part of what I’m talking about is the part that cuts fishing line. Perhaps you’ve seen the old timers cutting off the line with their teeth. Don’t be that guy. There are also guys out there that open glass-bottle tops with their teeth, and crack air vents in their metal cans of soup with a canine. Have I shed any light on the issue?

You can get away with cutting line with your teeth in an emergency, but over time—or in any particular instance—it can really hurt you. Thus the nipper.

Nippers don’t need to be expensive. In fact, they don’t even need to be designated for fishing use at all. My favorite nipper on the market is none other than a nail clipper. It folds up and fits in a slot next to your fishing lures in the tackle box. I keep one in my to-go box, I have another in my big box, and I have at least another three floating around with various piles of fishing gear.

No matter what rod you take, or cast net, or hand line or bait trap, etc., there will almost always be some string involved in need of nipping, trimming or cutting.

The reason I like nail clippers so much, other than that they’re small and easy to pack in a tackle box, is that they are very accurate.

I’ve used line cutters that don’t cut cleanly, or that require you to pull the blade through the string as you would with a knife. If this happens, you run the risk of cutting yourself, messing up your knot, sliding on the string and weakening it, or needing to cut the whole thing out and redo it anyway. Nail clippers can be lined up exactly where you want to cut and they pinch from both sides, making a clean and easy cut with little-to-no risk.

There is one small downside. Remember I mentioned what line can do to your teeth over time? Well, it does the same thing to nail clippers if you tend to use the same part of the blades over and over, especially with heavier-gauge line. After a while, it will dent the teeth, and you might need to bust out the big bucks and replace your dollar-store nail clipper. But any line cutter on the market is going to be prone to this, so ask yourself: would you rather replace a nail clipper or the fancy GPS one you’ve grown close to and named Ernesto?

Bottom line and bottom dollar, take my two cents, add a few more, and go get yourself a couple nippers from the store. There’s no better doodad for the money, and I promise you will use it a thousand times more than any trinket out there. And yes, your dentist will thank you.

nipper, fishing, nail clippers, fishing line, gear, tackle


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