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Tool Review

Crafting fishing tools with experience, Rapala ProGuide Fishing Pliers

Date: 12/24/02
Tackle type: Tools
Manufacturer: Rapala
Reviewer: Zander

Total Score: 8.25

Introduction: Rapala ups the ante with a innovative set of pliers positioned above their popular "Sportsman" series, the Rapala ProGuide line of tools aims to please pros, guides, and die hard weekend warriors alike.

Rapala ProGuide (RPLR-6) Pliers Specifications

Fishing Pliers Stainless steel construction, soft-grip handles, removable spring, side cutter, split shot crimper 2 sleeve crimpers, split ring tool, Rapala lure tuning tool
Lanyard hand Lanyard (Branded)
Sheath Oversized steel belt clip, cordura outer, Velcro strap
MSRP $15.99

Impressions: Rapala is really making a name for themselves in categories outside their primary lure business. It is becoming more and more common to see Rapala branded rods and tools lining retail shelves and mail order catalogs. Almost exactly one year ago I had my first experience with the Rapala Sportsman Combo. Over the entire year I have found the "Sportsman" series pliers to be both reliable and well designed, and was extremely heartbroken to forever part with them on a recent fishing trip to O'Neill Forebay. After landing a rather energetic striper on a ripbait. sporting sizable treble hooks, I was in the process of removing the hooks from the fish's mouth when he suddenly lurched towards me, driving the hooks into my leg. In an instant as I tried to regain control over the fish and stop him from flipping further my sportsman pliers fell overboard, and now rest at the bottom of the lake. While I lost my trusty Rapala Sportsman pliers, and now bear a scar from what I dub "the Striper's revenge" incident, the silver lining is that I now get to field test Rapala's higher-end ProGuide pliers.

Rapala's ProGuide Pliers comes complete with holster and hand lanyard

The elements of the setup: The Rapala ProGuide Pliers come in either 6 1/2" or 8 1/2" sizes. The 6 1/2" size is preferable for anglers wishing to wear the pliers while walking as they are not only lighter, but seem to stay out of the way much better when not being used. The Pliers come with an attractive holster and hand lanyard.

A good grip even in wet weather that proudly bears the Rapala brand

The Breakdown:

Pliers feel: The Rapala ProGuide Pliers definitely feel better in your hand then the sportsman set. Over long term use the lower end sportsman grips would begin sliding and rotating on the handles. This is not the case with the ProGuide as the grips are much larger and feature contoured handles with a nice finger guard. This provides a much more solid grip on the pliers, even when your hand is wet or covered in slime. The integration of a removable spring is perhaps the biggest upgrade. Purists can remove the spring for manual operation, but most anglers will appreciate the ability to more quickly operate the pliers.

These pliers are fully featured with split ring tool, lure tuning ribs, split shot crimper, and leader cutter

Pliers operation: Feature packed is the best way to describe the ProGuide. With spring operation the ProGuide comes complete with the same tuning ribs, side cutter, and split shot crimper as the old sportsman. A new bonus is the small hook at the top of the pliers. This protrusion is actually the split ring tool, which helps pry open stubborn split rings to make hook changes easier. This feature is a real plus as changing out treble hooks on small split rings can often do a real number on your fingers and nails. The only downside to this feature is that unlike traditional pliers that can grab objects straight on, the ProGuide is best grabbing objects with the pliers positioned parallel to the object.

The Rapala ProGuide comes with a easily removable stainless spring

Storage: One of the biggest improvements in the ProGuide line of Pliers is the inclusion of a metal split ring hole at the base of the handle. This allows anglers to secure the tool to the hand lanyard, or any security cord. This feature helps save your pliers if accidentally dropped. The hand lanyard is a good idea but not the exact implementation we were hoping for. The lanyard is too short to physically secure to clothing, and if secured is a pain to undo in most cases. We would have much rather seen a longer extension cord that attaches to the holster.


The holster itself is equally attractive and durable. The use of a Velcro strap helps add security and the oversized metal belt clip is mounted on a robust piece leather double-stitched to the cordura holster. Overall a very well thought out abode for your pliers.

Durable holster with a great oversized clip provides a great place to quickly secure your pliers

Durability/Quality: The overall quality of the ProGuide materials is respectable. While not as lightweight as premium titanium pliers these won't break the bank either. One flaw that emerged was that the grips on the handles were not glued on properly, and began to separate during our first day of field testing. While annoying the problem was easily fixed with two drops of super glue. The quality of the holster is impressive and should be able to take plenty of abuse before showing any noticeable wear.


What a bummer, after one day of testing the grip began to separate from the handle, luckily I had some super glue handy


Application: A good set of pliers is a necessity for any serious angler as it allows the quick modification or tuning of your baits, the safe removal of hooks from fish, and that extra squeeze to cut your line or crimp your weight. The ProGuide setup makes it even easier to access your pliers as they can be always worn in easy reach.



Rapala ProGuide (RPLR-6) Pliers Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Good quality and well thought out construction that surpasses the Rapala sportsman line 9
Performance Good performance in all tests 9
Price A decent price for a superior set of pliers, but anglers should ask themselves if the Rapala Sportsman line delivers everything they are looking for already 7
Features Good feature set, we wish the hand lanyard was a neck lanyard instead or a recoiling strap that attached easily to the holster 8
Design (Ergonomics) These pliers are obviously not standard tools repacked for fisherman. A better job on the grip attachment would be beneficial, but overall the pliers are well designed and comfortable 8
Application Good for anglers on the go 8.5

Total Score


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Good construction L Grips can separate
J Can be secured L Lanyard too short
J Designed for anglers  
J Great holster design  

Conclusion: The Rapala ProGuide Pliers are a definite step up from the "Sportsman" line of Rapala pliers. This is a well designed tool that includes features that make sense for anglers. Unlike many pliers that are simply repackaged and aimed at fisherman the ProGuide will arm anglers with advantages like the crankbait tuning tool and split ring opener. Anglers expect high quality and good design from Rapala and the ProGuide (RPLR-6) pliers carry on the tradition of first-rate product formulation and implementation. Best of all, the next time a Striper decides to plant a lure into my leg at least the ProGuide will be attached securely and I won't have to donate another pair of pliers to the lake floor.

Until next time....Tight Lines!









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