How to Unhook a Bass Fish

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Bass anglers enjoy good catches after practicing and constant improvement in their technique. Bass fishing is fun, and after catching a few bass fish, anglers unhook the fish and release it back into the water.

How to Unhook a Bass Fish

The best way to unhook bass fish is to ensure that it does not suffer injuries. If anglers do not carefully remove the hooks, bass fish can die, and the adventure becomes a bitter experience. Most experienced anglers follow unique techniques to unhook bass fish without hurting them.

An image of a bass fish

Unhooking bass can be challenging as the fish does not stay still and keeps bending to free itself from your hands. Simultaneously, unhooking requires careful hand maneuvers to ensure that the bass fish is not hurt. If you tug or jerk the hook, it may cause injuries.

Use the Correct Hook Type

Some hooks are easier to remove than others. Hook removal can be smooth if the bend is wide and the shank is long. Shorter shanks can be tough to unhook as they are usually deep-set in the flesh. The best hooks for bass fishing are straight shank hooks and offset wide gap hooks.

Even if the fish swallows the baitfish and the hook gets caught in the gut, you can take it out quickly due to the long shank. Although treble hooks increase the hookup rate, many anglers have moved from treble to single hooks because they have lesser snags in the mouth or belly of bass fish. 

Anglers often use treble hooks until they catch their day’s quota of bass fish. Then they change the hooks to singles, causing fewer injuries. You can unhook the bass and return it to the water. This way, you will enjoy fishing while conserving bass fish.

Reel the Bass Fish Quickly

When you catch the bass, reel it out quickly to unhook it. The more time you give the fish to remain hooked, the higher the chance that it will get injured due to constant movement. The fish can die if it gets exhausted from fighting while being hooked. Pull the reel in fast to avoid potential injuries.

Hold the Fish Firmly

Unhooking the bass has to be a careful process because there is fear, panic, and resistance from the bass. The fish’s quick movement and constant flapping need to stop before pulling out the hook. To make the unhooking easier, hold down the fish firmly.

You can keep your thumb around the head as you hold the bass from under the chin. Keep the other hand around the pectoral fins, just around the belly. Hold it upside down if the fish is restless until it gives up the panicking.

An image of a bass fish on a hook

Unhook Bass Fish by the Mouth

Unhooking bass by the mouth is easy as you hold the fish with one hand and remove the hook from the corner of the mouth. There is a small wound at the point where the hook pierced the skin.

Keeping a steady hand and unhooking the bass quickly to release it back into the water is the objective. Some might say that unhooking the fish by the mouth is easier than unhooking from the throat or gut. Removing a sharp point from the mouth while the fish is moving can be challenging.

Unhook Swallowed Hooks

Unhooking gutted bass requires care. When you hold the bass by the corner of the mouth, you will see the hook embedded deep in the throat or in the gut. The first step is to remove the lure so that you can get a better view.

If the hook is too deep to reach in and take out, try to unhook it through the gills. You can reach in through the gills and turn the hook upside down. Gently pull out the line and the hook will come out smoothly.

You do not want to hurt the fish, so if you cannot see the hook in the gut, use additional tools and use the gills to reach the hook rather than trying to reach it through the mouth. If you only see the line disappearing into the bass’s gut, gills may be the only way to go!

Use of Pliers to Unhook Bass Fish

Pliers are an excellent way to reduce your time to unhook bass. This tool is helpful because you can keep a firm grip while reaching inside the mouth to unhook the bass. If it is a deep hook, you can hold the fish firmly and use pliers through the mouth or gills to retrieve the hook.

Disinfect the Bass Before Release

When you unhook bass fish successfully, there will be a tiny wound at the corner of the mouth that has to be disinfected. You may not be able to disinfect the wound when you unhook the bass in the gut. However, use a disinfectant that creates a seal on the wound.

An image of a person showing how to unhook a bass fiish

You can find numerous effective disinfectants for bass fish hook wounds. You can avoid this step when you decide to catch the fish for yourself, although it is an essential part of unhooking the bass fish. When releasing the fish back into the water, it must be disinfected to return to its previous life.

When Unhooking Is Harmful

If the hook is embedded deep inside the bass fish’s flesh, it is better to cut the line and leave the hook there. Bass fish can survive with a hook embedded deep in its flesh, while bleeding caused by unhooking a deep-set hook may kill the fish.

However, leaving the hook in must be the last resort. Unhooking bass fish is an essential step before releasing the fish back into the water. If unhooking is dangerous and the deep hook might cause a lot of bleeding, you can leave it in. Anglers must cut the exposed part of the hook.

Over an extended period, the hook can come loose, and as it passes down the gut, it can harm the fish. Many bass fish die due to the tissue damage from steel hooks. Moreover, the trauma induced by the angler can kill bass fish. If the bass fish is restless and has been out of the water for a long time, release it!

Additional Tips to Unhook Bass

Apart from getting all the steps of unhooking bass fish, a few tips and tricks can make this process easier and less painful for your catch.

  • Carbon hooks corrode more and can wither off quickly if not unhooked. This means that while stainless steel hooks are tampered with to sustain corrosion, carbon hooks break off easily when they are underwater for a long time. This quality might be helpful when anglers cannot unhook deep hooks.
  • The size of the hook matters! The correct hook size will help you catch bass fish sooner. It will also ensure that the fish is caught by the edge of the mouth and not the gut.


Anglers often want to learn how to unhook bass fish, which is believed to be an arduous task. However, you can unhook bass fish without any complications when using the correct hooks and applying the proper technique.