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Recs for Fish tweezer or plier?

Hello- was hoping one of you could help me find a tweezer or plier that would be good for removing fish bones. Mostly for salmon.


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  1. I was just researching this recently for the same reason, I haven't bought anything yet, but I found stainless steal long nose pliers on amazon.com that are all stainless, no plastic handles or anything. Just search amazon for ss long nose pliers. The only problem was a long lead time. My requirements included not made in China and I didn't want plastic handles to hold bacteria or become a problem in the dish washer. Although any long nose pliers will work, I feel SS is more kitchen friendly, the others will rust if let them stay wet for any length of time.

    5 Replies
    1. re: mikie

      How about disposable medical stainless steel tools from Pakistan?

      1. re: paulj

        I use stainless steel forceps that my mother brought home when she was a RN. The hospital had single use ER packs and the tools were tossed. I boiled them and them sterilized them in 50% bleach solution before use. You can buy the same SS forceps from sporting goods store because fly fishers use them to remove flies from fishes mouth and other streamside tasks requiring precision.



      2. re: mikie

        Has anybody owned or tried Messermeister Stainless Steel Fish Pliers?

        They're stainless steel and I don't care that they're made in China. But, do I need to be worried about those plastic handles harboring bacteria?

        And, if a needlenose plier from a hardware store works just as well as a speciality needlenose plier for fish does this mean that a tweezer from the cosmetics section works just as well as a specialized tweezer for fish bones?

        1. re: hobbess

          I use a needlenose plier that's flattened at the ends--so that you can more easily pry out the bones (the tool is horizontal at the bottom, and parallel to the fish.). It works much better than the "cooking store" tweezers I used to use...Try to find this kind of configuration--it will make your life easier.

          1. re: hobbess

            hobbess, yes -- I had a pair of tweezers from one of those "gift sets" that shows up at Christmas -- the tweezers were crap for cosmetic use, but they work great for fish bones. They now live in my kitchen drawer (and they're stainless...and they were free).

        2. Forget the tweezers--too smooth and slippery and not enough leverage or bearing surface. They will make you curse, sweat and need stronger readers and carpal tunnel surgery!

          SS needlenose pliers are far better. For ease of use, make sure they have: (a) serrated jaws; (b) some sort of spring return; and (c) offset tips so you can "rake" the tip of the bone up out of the flesh, squeeze and pull (rather than feeling around with just the tips of the pliers).

          1. Why not just get a pair of needlenose pliers from either: Sears, Lowes, HomeDepot, Ace Hardware, et al.? Do we really need to have something special to do a job which any basic tool could do?

            2 Replies
            1. re: trakman

              This is what I have been using for years. Many, many years ago, I lived near the legendary Bayside Appetizing store in Queens, New York, and spent much time watching these pros expertly remove bones from smoked fish filets using these very same pliers. They would feel gently for bones with their fingers by sliding a gloved hand against the grain of the fish, right near the fold where bones would be found, and pulled each one out in quick order. I never found a single bone in anything I purchased there, so I figured these guys must have known what they were doing.

              I have a stainless steel pair in my kitchen drawer that I purchased at one of the home stores, and it does have a rubber fitting over each handle. I wash thoroughly, dry and then leave them out for a while, never really worrying about bacteria under the handles because the pliers hand never even gets wet.

              BTW, the other tip I picked up back then is to own a very long fish filet knife for thin slicing. Still evaluating if I need such a knife or if my slicers can do the trick.

              1. re: trakman

                The first ones I bought at the hardware stor, many years ago, rusted in a very short time. My next pair was SS and they've held up really well.

              2. I have giant tweezers that are specifically made for fish bones. they 4 inches in length and stainless steel. Mine are made in Japan. The cost was about $2 or 3 dollars. You can find them is Japanese markets. a photo is included.

                6 Replies
                1. re: bgazindad

                  The Japanese giant tweezers seem like a good deal at that price. Also think of surgical intstruments as mentioned above (needle holders/drivers or hemostats). Plain old needle nose pliers work great, especially the ones that have angled tips. If the handles coveredin rubber/plastic are of concern, just strip them off so you have bare metal.

                  1. re: bgazindad

                    bgazindad, I have used these "giant tweezers" for salmon and found them to be quite adequate. I purchased them in a Japanese market, but I have seen them also in chef stores. They are labeled for pulling the bones from fish.

                    What I like most about these simple stainless tweezers is that they are simple and therefore easy to clean. Tools with moving parts and hinges present a cleaning problem for me unless they come apart. Also, this tool is small enough to store without taking up too much drawer space.

                    I have found that if you pull the bones at the "right" angle, they pretty much slide out easily.

                    1. re: bgazindad

                      Yep, this is what I use, too. Small, easy to hold, easy to clean, and tenacious grip (at least tenacious enough to pull fish bones!).

                        1. re: Stephanie Wong

                          This is a good find, Stephanie Wong, without having to find an Asian store. However, Sur la table is charging $9.95 and the Asian and some other chef stores charge less than $4.00 for what appears to be the same item. Is it possible that the metals are different...maybe.

                          Still, for less than $10.00, I find this to be a very useful kitchen tool. Unless the poster is going to remove the fish bones from many fish every day (restaurant use), I think this tool is adequate for the home cook.

                          1. re: liu

                            I'm lucky to have Sur la Table & Wm. Sonoma branches within msey community so I really don't worry about their shipping costs. In fact, I've found that the "brick & mortar" stores often may sell single units or an item as opposed to the multiple units depicted in their catalogs.

                      1. I'd recommend using a pair of mosquito hemostats - precise tips, easy to hold even when slippery, and easy to clean. (If you don't have a surgical supply store nearby, you can often find them at fishing equipment stores -- fly fishermen use them to tie flies.)

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: tanuki soup

                          I keep a few hemostats in my kitchen and use them not only for boning fish but for plucking the feathers from Kosher poultry. They work like a charm, and are designed to be sterilized.

                        2. This may sound gross--actually, it probably is gross--but I just use my husband's needle nose pliers. I wash them well and pour boiling water over them first to sanitize. They work really well. But I'm also the person who used to use a rasp to grate citrus peel before my mother gave me a microplane, and I still sometimes call that a "kitchen rasp."

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: Isolda

                            I use the needlenose pliers as well, but I keep a cheapo set in the kitchen for just that purpose. Wash it up with everything else and so far no problem.

                            Why do we call it a set, when it's only one tool? Pliers is rather silly. Plier should work. I need to get out more.

                              1. re: breadchick

                                I thought it was a pair!

                                Come to think of it, I have pair of pairs of kitchen scissors (from the warehouse store). And since they come a part for cleaning, that means I have 4 (individual) scissors.

                                What's the difference between a pair of pants and a pair of socks? or a pair of gloves (even when they are joined by a string)?

                                1. re: breadchick

                                  I believe the reason that we use the plural for things like scissors, pliers, and even pants is that these things were originally used in sets of two. For example, the earliest scissors didn't have a hinge, but were two separate blades that you slid against each other. So you needed a pair of scissors to cut things. Similarly, the first pants were actually two separate leg coverings (each one called a pant) that attached to your codpiece. You'd look rather silly going out wearing just one pant, so you put on a pair of pants.

                                  1. re: tanuki soup

                                    Enlightening, tanuki soup...thanks!

                                    1. re: tanuki soup

                                      I think I would look silly wearing a codpiece.

                                2. A technique I use with needle nose pliers for pin bones is to grip the bone and then slide a fork in between pliers and fish and press down slightly as I pull the bone. It keeps from tearing much of the flesh on fish like grouper where the bone doesn't yield easily.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Veggo

                                    good tip Veggo. Grouper can be mighty tough.

                                    1. re: Veggo

                                      Veggo: REALLY good tip! I've sweated filleting salmon, getting the fillets done oh so smooth, and then ripped it up pulling the bones. THANK YOU.

                                      Probably good for pointing up the tips of the bones, too, so you can clamp on 'em without so much foldling.

                                    2. I used to work in a fish smokehouse... i would fillet 60-80 salmon everyday. I used a pair of needle nose pliers that I got at the hardware store. They worked better than any other specialty tool I ever tried.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: breadfan

                                        It would be good to know if qwerty78, the original poster, is deboning many fish a day -- as in a restaurant -- or just preparing the usual family dinner with salmon every few nights a week or month.

                                        If the volume is high, then I would definitely use a pair of needle nose pliers for this job; if the poster is serving fish every once in awhile at home, then I think the stainless tweezers work well.

                                      2. I was into beading for a while and had picked up some jewelers pliers at Michaels. Now they are my fish bone pliers . They are not as long as regular needle nose pliers. They were pretty inexpensive.

                                        1. I've never thought culinary tweezers were necessary for salmon, as salmon has soft bones which can easily be removed with your fingers. Small salmon bones can even be eaten.

                                          Here's a link to an article on removing pin bones from salmon:


                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: GH1618

                                            Do tweezers work better with certain types of fish while pliers work better with other types of fish?

                                            Or, is it just a personal preference about choosing tweezers vs. pliers?

                                            1. re: hobbess

                                              some bones seem to be anchored far more securely than others -- tweezers work fine on salmon, but something like grouper needs a little more oomph.

                                              Having said that, one of the best techniques I've seen was taught in the cooking class I took at the Ritz in Paris (woo, get me....) -- the instructor used a non-swivel peeler to pull the bones out with just a flick of the wrist. She did say, though, that this nifty trick only works on salmon, as the bones aren't anchored tightly.

                                              The peeler she used looks like this: http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/cu...

                                              I have no idea where mine came from, as I don't remember buying it -- but it makes quick work of a salmon filet.

                                              1. re: hobbess

                                                Pliers allow you to apply much greater strength both for closing the objects and to twist/pull the objects. Just imagine if you need to extract a cross-thread screw.


                                                Tweezers are much more refine. A good pair of tweezers can easily grab hold of a tiny object like a hair or a small bone.