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Tool Review

Seven Tools in One, the Leatherman Skeletool (continued)

The blade features a combination straight and serrated edge which is good for slicing through various materials. When it came to cutting both mono and braided line I found the blade sharp enough to easily cut through both, but unlike scissors it was more difficult to make precision cuts after tying knots. The needlenose pliers have built in wire cutters and while they do a great job cutting through traditional wiring they are not effective for slicing through thin diameter material like fishing line.

The blade is constructed out of 420HC steel and has both a straight and serrated edge which can cut through braid

Just as you might expect from a Leatherman product the Skeletool is able to offer something extra, something that traditional pliers cannot, and that would be the inclusion of a screwdriver with exchangeable bits. These proprietary bits are flat and double sided and there are ¼ in and 3/6in as well as a Phillips #1 and #2 heads. There is plenty of attention to detail here and each head is also labeled. One of the bits locks into the non-carabineer end of the pliers while the other bit is held in place with pressure in the other handle. I was a bit worried that the extra bit would fall out but the metal pressure strip does a commendable job holding it place, no matter how much you swing the tool around.

The blade displayed good overall durability and excellent corrosion resistance

Durability: During tests we deliberately dropped the Skeletool from a height of five feet on the decks of our boats, on concrete flooring in our lab and rocky creek beds, and through it all, besides a few cosmetic scratches, the tool continues to perform as advertised.

Something you don't usually see with pliers, a built in bit driver

The combo knife does require sharpening over time but we found the blade to be reasonably wear resistant and very corrosion resistant. The blade makes use of 420HC stainless steel which is a grade commonly used in knife making. This stainless steel can be sharpened to a fine cutting edge and has fair toughness. In comparison D2 stainless steel is a little bit tougher but not nearly as corrosion resistant and 154CM to offer an excellent balance. If used in saltwater environments it is a still a good habit to rinse the blade and the entire tool with freshwater after use.

A second bit is stored on the non-blade handle

Price & Applications: Leatherman products are typically pretty reasonably priced and the Skeletool retails for $54.99. The Skeletool comes backed with a 25 year warranty and the stainless steel construction is built to last. There is no question this is a useful tool but just how useful is it for anglers? While I found the Skeletool excellent for applications like hiking, camping and as an emergency tool in the car, when it came to fishing applications only some of the tools were really valuable. The fact that the Skeletool can fold down so compact is excellent in terms of portability but when deployed the needlenose pliers are a little short, and at times I found it difficult to unbutton fish that were deeply hooked. The addition of a pair of scissors would have been very useful for cutting braid, and while the knife was able to slice through braid it was not always easy to make precise cuts.

Ratings: (We've re-calibrated our ratings standard for 2008 and have included a key at the bottom of the following matrix as a guide)

Leatherman Skeletool Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Great construction with attention to detail. The stainless steel body and 420HC combo knife are high quality components in a well built multi-tool 8.5
Performance Good overall performance but some limitations apply for bass anglers like the ability to cut line precisely. A pair of scissors would be a great addition but if your primary application is backpacking or backcountry fishing this rating should be increased as the tool excels in these applications 7
Price An excellent value for a well designed multi-tool 9
Features A rich assortment of features including needlenose pliers, regular pliers, wire cutters, hard-wire cutters, combo knife, carabineer clip/bottle opener, screwdriver (with bits) 8
Design (Ergonomics) Weighing in at 5oz. the Skeletool is reasonably light for having so many integrated tools. While the pliers requires two hands to open the blade is easy to deploy with one hand. Overall ergonomics are good and the tool feels natural in hand 8
Application Great for many applications and as an emergency tool carried around in your boat or truck but as a primary pair of pliers for bass anglers the tool is missing a way to precisely cut line though the knife can cut through braid, just not as precisely as pliers armed with dedicated cutters 7

Total Score

Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = unbelievable!
For More Details of the updated rating system visit our explanation here

Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

+ Great emergency tool or for backcountry fishing applications - Not ideal for bass anglers looking for one tool to do it all
+ Excellent construction - Scissors would make cutting line precisely much easier
+ Attractive design and quality ergonomics - Pliers can be a little short for unhooking deeply hooked fish
+ Screwdriver is a nice addition  
+ Very aggressive price, great overall value  

Conclusion: With a number of useful tools that can help you get out of a tough situation the Skeletool delivers a lot of flexibility in a compact and lightweight package. The Skeletool makes for a very good emergency tool but when it comes to angling this tool is probably best used by backcountry anglers versus bass fishermen which have more application specific requirements.

The Skeletool is great for backcountry anglers and backpackers on the go


Bass anglers need to cut and re-tie often and while the Skeletool can accommodate these tasks it doesn’t necessarily excel in these situations. While I wouldn’t recommend the Skeletool as a primary pair of pliers for bass fishermen I absolutely would recommend them for the angler always on the go, when backcountry fishing and as an everyday tool stowed in your boat or truck.


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