An angler showing how to use a disgorger properly

When starting up any type of fishing, you should learn how to handle fish and how to unhook them. If your style of fishing includes using small hooks you must learn how to use a disgorger. The last thing you want to do is catch a nice fish and then not know how to unhook it. This will certainly lead to unnecessary stress on the fish and could easily lead to its death.

Let’s face it none of us Anglers want that. A disgorger is fairly easy to use and quite easy to master if you follow my tips and techniques in this post.

Poor unhooking skills can lead to a dead fish

What is a Disgorger?

A disgorger is a long thin cylindrical object that is about 6 inches in length with a slit in it at one end. A disgorger is used to remove small hooks from a fish’s mouth. It is a vital piece of equipment that all pleasure anglers should carry in their tackle box. They are either made of metal and are silver in colour or bright coloured plastic.

Personally, I always favour the plastic ones. The reason for this is simple, they float. Believe me, you will almost definitely be dropping it in the water at some stage. Another reason is they are easier to see if you drop it on the bank. This also happens far too many times.

When to use a Disgorger

When you are pleasure angling/match fishing the chances are a fish may well swallow your bait a bit too far. If the fish is lip hooked you can usually remove the hook with just your fingers. When the fish are being greedy buggers they tend to take the bait positively and swallow it further down. This is when a disgorger is needed.

A good tip to keep deep hooking to a minimum is to strike early. As soon as a bite is indicated do not leave it too long before you strike into it. This is especially true when perch are about. Perch are notorious for deeply swallowing your bait. Barbless or semi-barbed hooks are also a good idea for this reason.

An angler unhooking a fish with his hand.
If a fish is hooked in the lips you probably won’t need a disgorger

How to use a Disgorger

By following these 4 simple steps you will soon master using a disgorger.

1. Hold the Fish in One Hand

When using a disgorger you will need to hold it in the hand that you use the most. In other words, if you are right-handed you will want the disgorger in your right hand, and the fish (if it is small enough) in your left hand. If the fish is too big to hold in your hand then it is a good idea to lay it on an unhooking mat. Just be sure to steady the fish so it doesn’t flip about.

2. Slide the Disgorger Onto the Line

Whilst you are holding the fish in your hand, you will need to keep the line nice and tight and slide the disgorger onto it. You will notice the disgorger has a slit at the business end of it, this is where you slide it onto the line.

3. Turn the Disgorger 180 Degrees

Once the disgorger is slid onto the line, you then want to turn the disgorger around 180 degrees. You then want to slide the disgorger down to the hook. Because you have turned the disgorger 180 degrees the slit will be at the back and the end of the disgorger will sit against the hook.

4. Gently Dislodge the Hook

At this stage, you will now want to gently but firmly push the disgorger into the hook and slightly pull it back to release the point. This can sometimes be a bit tricky, it is a good idea to use barbless hooks so the hook is a lot easier to remove. Also striking early when you get a bite can enhance your chances of hooking the fish in the lips.

What Other Unhooking Utensils Are There?

Disgorgers in general are used when you are using smaller hooks. If you are using larger hooks from about a size 8 upwards you may need to start using some forceps. These are like skinny versions of long-nosed pliers. These are designed to grip larger hooks and gently dislodge them. These are particularly popular with specimen anglers such as predator and carp anglers.

Long-nosed pliers are a favourite if you are thinking about predator fishing.

Forceps can be used for bigger hooks and unhooking fish such as pike


When you do any type of angling, unhooking utensils should always be at your side. A disgorger should be amongst them and should never be forgotten. It is advisable to go with an experienced angler if you are not too sure how to use a disgorger. Even if it is just for one session. Once you can unhook your fish with confidence you are good to go alone.

Tight lines and please enjoy your fishing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it easy to use a disgorger?

If you are using a disgorger for the first time, it can prove a little bit tricky. But, by following my simple step-by-step instructions and a bit of practice, it soon becomes quite a simple task.

Should I always use a disgorger with fish?

You only really need to use a disgorger when you cannot release the hook with your fingers. If the fish has been hooked in the lip, most of the time you can remove the hook by hand. The disgorger is used to help you with the more awkward hooks that are deeper down in the throat.

Are disgorgers expensive?

Absolutely not, disgorgers do not cost a lot at all. They generally sell from about 99p for one.

Similar Posts