Gear Review: Hatch Outdoors Tempest Pliers

Hatch Tempest Fishing Pliers

Hatch "Tempest" Pliers

Let’s be honest. Van Staal is, and has been, the “gold standard” in fishing pliers for many years now, with very good reason. They don’t rust, they always grab, and always cut even the thickest line materials. They’ve even become an icon—he (or she) who sports the Van Staals on the belt clearly knows quality. I have a pair of Van Staals myself, and love them.

It’s just that I love my Hatch “Tempest” pliers a little bit more.

At face value, the benefit of spending $200 for a good pair of fishing pliers (Tempests) versus $350 (Van Staal) is obvious. But from a purely functional standpoint, I lean toward Hatch.  Two reasons, really. I like having cutting jaws on either side of the pliers, because in the heat of the fishing action, I don’t like to be flipping sides. And the Hatch pliers are just a tad longer (7.5 inches versus 7 inches for the longer VS model), and that comes in handy, both in ‘cuda country and the pike world.

I have fished the Hatch pliers in South America for dorado, throughout the tropics for bonefish, tuna, sharks, tarpon, and permit, as well as in the far north, places like Alaska for trout and salmon, and Lake Athabasca in Saskatchewan for trophy pike. They don’t leave my side, and they have not let me down.  Cold weather, hot weather… salt, whatever. Stripers, sure. Carp—of course.

They’re spring loaded, they’re light, and they are corrosion resistant. Cutting blades can be replaced, though I don’t see that happening in my case for some time.

There are many options when it comes to pliers, but only scant few contenders when it comes to long-term reliability. And in terms of value, Tempest is in its own league.

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  • http://twitter.com/bjornorama Bjorn Stromsness

    I guess one of the things I struggle with is the price:value bit. I can (and have) picked up pliers for $30. They’ve done the job for me. Are those other pliers really 7x-10x better? Am I going to get that much more utility out of them? It is hard to drop that much cash on something if I don’t see the clear benefit.
    It would be great to have a side-by-side comparison of “good” pliers vs. “cheap” pliers to show exactly what value you buy for that extra $170-220.

  • Kirkdeeter

    You raise a good point, Bjorn, and I guess the short answer is that it’s a purely subjective, personal choice.  I have also had to run out and get some emergency cheap pliers, and they worked fine for a bit, then ultimately not so hot.  I’ve also bought some not-so-cheaps that were WAY disappointing.  The cheap ones rust.  Other common failures of the others:  The jaws don’t really pinch tight enough.  Cut through enough wire, and the cutters wear out.  The grip isn’t spring loaded, so as they get gunked up, it’s like you have to use two hands to open and close them (which defeats the purpose of pliers in the first place, right?)… I’ve tried various multi-tools, and they are (to me) overcooked and cumbersome for fishing (and they corrode in salt).  What I’ve found is that it really takes time to decide on value.  Some of my favorites out of the box are now junk in a drawer.  I would consider a side-by-side, but to be honest, it’s almost an unfair, apples and oranges comparison.  Of course, to your point, some anglers want apples, others want oranges, and there’s no right or wrong call.