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Tools Review

Fishpond Barracuda Pliers offer a lot, but not enough


Date: 3/12/08
Tackle type: Tools
Manufacturer: Fishpond
Reviewer: Zander

Total Score: 5.96 - MEDIOCRE

Fishpond may be best known for their fly fishing vests and packs but they also offer a pair of premium pliers that is designed for both fresh and saltwater fishing applications. We take a look at their premium Barracuda pliers to see if this is the one pair of pliers we have been looking for that can “do it all.”

Fishpond Barracuda Pliers specifications

Overall Length 7"
Material Machined Aluminum & Stainless Steel Jaws/Cutters
Weight 4.8oz
Additional Features Sheath, lanyard, replaceable jaws and cutters, spring loaded
Price $139.00 (pliers)
$20.00 (replacement jaws)
$20.00 (replacement cutters)

About Fishpond: If you are a bass fisherman you may not have heard of Fishpond, but if your first love is fly fishing you have no doubt encountered a Fishpond product. The company is based in Silverthorne Colorado and is best known for their soft goods. Fishpond’s packs, vests, and luggage make use of a dynamic blend of colors and materials that remind me of the many brilliant colors of fall. The company states “we thrive on creating new products that exceed customer expectations. We're committed to being on the cutting-edge. We're driven by design.” In addition to soft goods Fishpond also makes tools and accessories, most of which are once again aimed at fly anglers.


Ready for a pair of premium pliers? Fishpond offers the Barracuda

Impressions: The Fishpond Barracuda pliers are one of the products that Fishpond makes that is not designed solely for fly fisherman. They created these pliers from the ground up and they are designed for a wide range of environments ranging from freshwater rivers to even saltwater.

The Barracuda Pliers comes bundled with this excellent molded sheath

Pliers are among the most often used tools of anglers, and can be used for everything from cutting lines to tuning tackle, and dislodging hooks from caught fish. No Bass angler’s arsenal is complete without a trusty pair of pliers, and being caught without a pair can even mean death for a deep hooked fish. I recently expanded my quest for a new pair of pliers after I spent the day testing numerous reels loaded with braided lines. My Rapala Stainless Steel pliers were having difficulty cutting through the lines, I found myself pressing exceedingly hard to cut through 20lb braid. Scissors cut through braid better than just about any pair of pliers but unless I am on the boat it is unlikely that I will be carrying both pliers and scissors, so it is nice to have a pair of pliers able to fulfill both applications.

Fishpond is best known for their excellent soft goods which include fly vests and packs

I went online to Bass Pro and procured the Fishpond Barracuda to see how these pliers would perform as a more rounded tool. The Barracuda is available in four different colors (gunmetal, cutthroat orange, Aqua Blue, Lichen) all of which match their lineup of vests and packs. The pliers come with a sheath that also shares the same bright colors and unique design found on Fishpond’s other products.

The Barracuda is machined out of aerospace grade aluminum

Real World Test: To test the Barracuda we first used them in their primary application as pliers for fly-fishing, then in a saltwater inshore environment, and finally bass fishing. The tests spanned a five month period and took us to locations including the Truckee River and Clear Lake.

A look at the working end shows the flat ended jaws

Operation: Nobody needs a manual when it comes to operating pliers, yet each pair has a distinct feel and some are unquestionably easier to use than others. The Barracuda started things right with a spring loaded design. Pliers that have a spring of some sort are easier to operate quickly. There is no need to use your fingers to open the pliers before closing the jaws, however if the spring design is not durable this is an extra element that can fail.

The Barracuda also comes armed with stainless steel cutters

The Barracuda is machined out of aerospace grade aluminum and weighed in at 4.8oz in our lab without the sheath (.2oz lighter than Fishpond’s published spec), and 7.4oz loaded into the sheath. The pliers are slightly longer than 7 inches in length, and is machined to be ergonomic and comfortable in hand. For reference the largest Abel plier is 6.5 inches in length and weighs in at 4.1oz. The Barracuda feels light and there is a loop at the end of the handle to attach the lanyard which then attaches to the sheath. Nothing is worse than losing your pliers to the lake or ocean (I’ve actually done it twice) and Fishpond’s implementation is quick and simple yet secure.

We found the flat ended jaws to be ok for tuning larger lures, but difficult to use for small lures and hooks

Opening and closing the jaws is easy but there is one thing to watch out with on this design. On some of the other pliers like the simple Rapala Stainless Steel Pliers or the 7” Van Staal models there are small extending tabs at the top of the handles so your hands don’t creep up the tool to the joint. On the Barracuda the handle leads right up to the joint and if you are not paying attention and your hand moves too far up it is actually possible to pinch yourself where the handles meet in the closed position. After the first time (ouch) I was very careful to keep my hands towards the lower end of the handles.

Securing the Barracuda to the holster is a bundled lanyard

One of the first things we noted about the operating side of the pliers was that the end of the jaws is wide rather than pointed. This surprised us as the flat head made it more difficult to pick up very small objects like flies. We would normally use clamps to pick up flies, but a sharp pair of pliers can also do this. The flat head also made it difficult to bend down barbs on small hooks. On the plus side this flat head actually is very good in saltwater applications where the flat head made it easier to put leverage on large hooks and rotate them out of hooked fish. The same can be said about large hooks and bass.

On the other side the lanyard connects to the handle

When it comes to features the Barracuda doesn’t have as many operational aspects as even some of the simplest pliers. Missing is the split shot crimper and split ring nose. Many premium pliers like those from Van Staal and Abel also do not have a split ring nose, but we would like to see this option offered on the Barracuda as well as the others. This would extend the pliers use in salt and bass fishing where it is necessary to occasionally change out hooks. Because it is possible to change out the steel jaws on the pliers it wouldn’t be difficult to sell different types of jaws including pointed, or split ring styles.

We found the cutters very good for cutting mono and fluorocarbon lines


 Next Section: How well does the Barracuda cut braid?









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