There is nothing worse than landing a fish and finding that the hook is set deeply in the fish’s throat. Removing the hook becomes a question of fish health, as the damage created by removing the hook with your hands could be worse for the fish than just leaving it in there.
This is where a disgorger comes in but what is a disgorger? And how do you use one? That’s what we are going to discuss in detail in this article.
Join me as we run through everything you need to know about fishing disgorgers so that you can always remove a hook and release your catch in the best condition possible.
What is a fishing disgorger?
A fishing disgorger, as I mentioned above, is a fish hook remover tool that you can use to remove a fishing hook that is set deep inside a fish’s mouth or throat. Disgorgers come in a few different styles but they all use the same design features.
A fishing disgorger looks like a long thin pipe usually around 6” inches long and it can be made of plastic or aluminium, and it comes with a hollow, kind of notched end. The long thin pipe part of the disgorger allows you to access deep into a fish’s mouth or throat while causing minimal damage and the hollow notched end lets you easily remove the hook.
Fishing disgorgers come in lots of different sizes, styles, and materials, and choosing the right one for your fishing situation is key – more on that later. First, let’s look at how to safely use a disgorger properly.
How To Use A Fishing Disgorger?
Unhooking a fish using a fishing disgorger is tricky at first as it can be quite fiddly but once you have done it a few times, it becomes second nature and you can remove hooks from fish in seconds, even without removing the fish from the water.
Here are the steps to follow to use a fishing disgorger correctly.
Catch a fish and bring it to hand
Slip the notch onto the line outside of the fish’s mouth
Hold the line to maintain some slight amount of tension
Slide the notch down until it meets the hook in the fish’s mouth
Make a gentle quick push or two to remove the hook
Do not stab as it could damage the fish
Pull the disgorger and hook out of the fish’s mouth
Maintain line tension while you do this
You have successfully unhooked the fish with a disgorger!
You can do all of this while leaving the fish in the water so that it can always breathe and not have any air exposure. It’s actually easier to remove a hook while the fish is in the water as it naturally creates the tension needed on the line for you.
If you are match fishing, complete the tasks above over your fishing keepnet. The fish will safely go into the net without losing it.
Tip: When unhooking any fish do not use any cloth, make sure your hands are wet before handling the fish.
Types Of Disgorgers
There are quite a few types of fish disgorgers and making sure you have the right one for the type of fishing you do is key to it working correctly. Instead of going into all the types here, we will break them down into two categories, freshwater disgorgers, and saltwater disgorgers.
Freshwater General Disgorgers
Freshwater disgorgers are much smaller, as the freshwater species they are designed for like trout and carp have much smaller mouths than their saltwater cousins. They are also usually made from plastic and are less robust than saltwater disgorgers.
Freshwater Pike Disgorgers
I don’t recommend the use of disgorgers for predators such as pike or zander. It is far easier to use a great pair of forceps to remove treble hooks. If you are not comfortable using forceps, the alternative is to use a Teflon-coated pistol disgorger. The movable jaws have serrations that can easily grab even deep-set hooks.
Saltwater disgorgers are generally much larger than freshwater disgorgers to match the larger species and their larger mouths. Sea hooks are much bigger than a freshwater hook, so the remover tool has to match the size of the hook.
Saltwater disgorgers are usually a type of disgorger called a T-bar disgorger and these work a little differently from freshwater disgorgers too.
But, we are still looking at the bigger picture here, as there is a lot more to consider when picking the right disgorger for you.
How To Choose The Correct Disgorger?
Choosing the right disgorger isn’t just about choosing between freshwater and saltwater, there is a lot more to it than that. When selecting a disgorger you need to consider hook size, species, fish size, and environment.
Plastic Or Metal Disgorger?
The beauty of plastic disgorgers is that they float if you drop them in the water. Metal ones such as aluminium or steel disgorgers obviously will sing and generally will be lost in the water.
Metal disgorgers are far more robust and will last longer, particular the slotted end. Both can be tied to a piece of string which you can put around your neck or attached to a carabiner to prevent them from getting lost.
What Colour Fishing Disgorger Should I Use?
My personal favourite colours are either yellow or orange, this helps if they are dropped in the water but also locating them quickly if they are inside your tackle box. If you plan on using a metal disgorger then this may not be possible unless it has a moulded plastic handle.
Hook Sizes & Disgorgers
The notch at the end of a disgorger has to slide over the eye and shank of the hook to be effective as hook removal. Therefore you need to match your disgorger to the size hook you will be using, as otherwise, the disgorger will not work.
I have seen a lot of people try to use a freshwater disgorger on larger saltwater hooks and when it doesn’t work, they look very puzzled. But, if it can’t get over the eye and shank of the hook, then it won’t.
This doesn’t mean buying a disgorger for larger hook sizes and then using it for smaller hooks is a good idea either as it will most likely damage the fish. Lots of course fishermen, for example, have multiple disgorgers for the likes of general pleasure fishing for roach, a different disgorger for carp and another disgorger for match fishing!
Fish Size & Species
Once you have matched your disgorger to your hook size, it’s time to think about the actual fish you will be disgorging. It’s best to imagine going through the motions and seeing if the disgorger is adequate.
For example, if you are using a disgorger to take a hook out of a pike’s mouth that you have just caught on a live or dead bait, you don’t want your hand going anywhere near those sharp teeth. In this case, you will probably need an extra-long disgorger or a pistol type so that your hands don’t go anywhere near the sharp teeth.
When choosing a disgorger, make sure it can survive the environment you plan on using it in. Saltwater is incredibly corrosive and therefore you’ll want to pick a disgorger made from a corrosion-resistant material like aluminium, stainless steel, and plastic.
You should also consider the strength of the disgorger as if you’re sliding it down to remove a hook from a shark, a low gauge aluminium disgorger with bend and a light plastic one will probably snap. Make sure to pick the right type of disgorger that can handle what you’re going to put it through.
What hook types do disgorgers work with?
Disgorgers will work with all single hooks as long as you match the disgorger size to the hook size. However, disgorgers will not work with treble hooks as their mechanism only removes one hook at its particular angler, not three embedded at different angles.
If you are using treble hooks, make sure to carry a long pair of forceps to remove the hooks safely.
Do disgorgers hurt fish?
Disgorgers can hurt fish but they shouldn’t and it all comes down to how you use them in the field. Keeping fish healthy for release is about two main things – minimal handling and minimal air exposure.
This means you should try to keep the fish in the water throughout the disgorging process and not touch it at all if possible. As I mentioned above, you can always remove hooks from a fish while it is in the water, but sometimes it does need handling, just be sure to keep letting the fish breathe while you remove the hook.
Thanks very much for reading my article, I hope you liked it and now know everything about what disgorgers are, how to use them, and how to choose the right one for your fishing needs.