So you’ve got yourself hooked. What to do next? How to remove the fishing hook from your finger?

The situation when an angler catches himself on his own hook is funny when it’s a comedy. I can recall quite a few movies that utilized that plot device. However, that kind of situation can occur in real life, and it’s much less funny when it does.

Even experienced anglers are not exempt from it. A twitch of the hand, an unfortunate gust of wind, a tree branch that got in the way… That happens even to the best of us, to say nothing about actual beginners who are yet to learn how to hold their fishing rod.

It may be joke-fuel, but when a fishing hook bites into a finger or another part of the body, not only is the sensation very much unpleasant but the situation itself is dangerous because the hook may cause infection and inflammation. Imagine how many germs and bacteria can be found on a fishing hook. You probably understand why their getting into the bloodstream is a serious danger. Even the most experienced anglers should know how to act when hooked and how to pull the hook out of the finger.

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Getting the hook out of the finger

It’s always best to get professional medical attention to handle situations like that. However, fishing often takes place in the middle of nowhere, or even in the open sea where you couldn’t find anyone for miles, to say nothing of medical facilities. If that is the case, you will have to do everything on your own.

Before proceeding to remove the hook, cut the fishing line. You won’t be needing that. 

The hook is much trickier. By design, it’s a barbed piece of wire made specifically to hold the bait and stop the fish from getting away. You can’t just pull and remove it in most cases, no better than a fish would, anyway. On the bright side, you have opposable thumbs, and you can use the power of your mind to free yourself.

Assess damage

There are several ways of extracting the hook. Picking either of them depends on how deep the hook went and how large the barb is. To choose the right method you need to know how bad it is. If it’s just the tip of the barb that’s bitten into your skin, you can safely remove it by just pulling on the shank, gently and without haste.

Anything else requires more careful assessment and preparation.

Disinfect at Every Step until Unhooked

The wound must be disinfected. It doesn’t matter how. Use undiluted alcohol if you must, but I advise against it, because, first, it hurts like nobody’s business, second, it can burn your flesh, worsening the damage, albeit disinfecting the area. Something like hydrogen peroxide does the job just as good and doesn’t hurt that much.

You also should disinfect the hook using the same means every time you do something.

  • Method 1. Press and Yank

Tie your fishing line to the curved part of the shank. You should slightly loosen the hook in the wound to find out the position of the barb, and press on the eye so that you move the barb as far as possible away from the tissues of the finger. Then, keeping the line parallel to the straight part of the shank, yank the line while still pressing on the eye.

It’s going to hurt, a lot, but less than if you’d yanked on the shank without pressing. The barb will still do some damage if you pull it while pressing on the eye, but not as much as it would otherwise.

  • Method 2. Advance and Cut

If the hook went too deep, you won’t be able to just yank it out. You have to advance the hook until it pierces your skin again, It’s going to hurt, and if you have painkillers on you, it may be the best time to use them. After the barb punctures the skin, use pliers or a similar tool to cut the barb off, then disinfect the tip and pull on the shank until the hook is removed.

  • Method 3. Cut and Remove

I can’t recommend using this method, mostly because it’s only usable when the barb already sticks out of your skin. In that case, you just cut it and, generally, do everything as you would with the Advance and Cut method, but without advancing.

It’s the least painful method, but you have to be “lucky” to be able to use it.

  • Method 4. Incise and Remove

Now, this is a mini-surgical operation. I cannot recommend it at all. Instead, seek medical attention urgently if you can find it within a reasonable timeframe. If not, here’s what you need to do.

Sterilize a knife or any other sharp tool and make an incision on the skin above the barb with it. Then pull the hook out.

It sounds simple, but it’s anything but. Don’t use this method if you have any other option. It has to be the last resort. If you can bear the pain, cut the eye of the hook instead to allow yourself the freedom of movement and try to get help. Remember, self-operations are generally bad. Operating on someone else without experience and knowledge can have disastrous consequences, even it something as small as this. Only use method 4 if you’re really desperate.

What should not be forgotten when removing the hook from the finger

Always remember to sterilize any tool you’re using to extract a foreign body. Needles, knives, pliers, they all must be disinfected.

Use any liquids containing alcohol as an antiseptic. Cologne, brandy, even wet wipes that contain alcohol will do. If, however, there’s really no antiseptics on hand, heat all the tools with a lighter or in a fire.

After you have got the hook put, you should disinfect the wound with an antiseptic. If none is available, use any herbs that can help. Nettle juice, for instance, can do the job. 

Even if you didn’t manage to sterilize the would put a bandage on it to prevent dirt from getting into the wound

Naturally, if you have a first-aid kit on hand, it’s going to be much simpler. So yes, I advise that you get a first aid kit and always take it with you when going fishing.

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