Rapala Elite Pliers Review

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If I had a penny for every pair of cheap pliers I’ve unintentionally ruined over the years, I’d be sitting pretty right now. I have close to a dozen rusty and seized-up pliers on the work bench in my shop but for whatever reason, I can’t bring myself to throw ‘em away. I hate wasting money and I keep telling myself I’ll find a way to bring them back to life one day.

Well… “one day” hasn’t happened yet. They’ve been sitting there for several years and they can still barely open and close.

I took a little bit of a turn and started testing some higher-end pliers for the last several months and I must say that I’m fairly impressed. Whether you want to put ‘em in your boat or keep ‘em in your shop for different tasks, I’d certainly recommend taking a close look at them. Hang with me for a minute or two and I’ll tell you what I like the most about them.

Like a hot knife through butter

Excuse the colloquialism above, but the line cutter that’s on the Rapala Elite Pliers cuts any type of line regardless of the diameter of material. It’s easy to brag about pliers cutting monofilament or flouorocarbon but the real test, in my opinion, is braided line. I have cut anywhere from 15-pound braided line to 80-pound braided line with total ease using these pliers.

The line doesn’t crimp when cut and you don’t have to saw it or close the pliers several times to make the cut. The blades are razor sharp and cuts through line with no issues at all. I’ve used and tested a lot of line-cutting tools in the past and while many of them work excellently at first, many of them tend to become dull after a few weeks of use. So far, I have not had that problem whatsoever. The cutters on these players have exceeded my expectations.

Cerakote makes a difference

As I mentioned earlier, I was getting tired of rusty and nasty pliers in my boat. Not only would they not open and close but they would also stain my carpet. I have already replaced my boat carpet once and I can confidently say that I will never do it again.

These pliers come with a Cerakote coating that supposedly protects against abrasion, corrosion and UV rays. I’m not a scientist and I haven’t put them under a microscope but I will certainly say that they haven’t rusted thus far and they seem to be holding up better than any of pair of pliers I’ve tried. I can leave them in the floor of my boat in rainy weather and back my boat into the shop and not even worry about taking them out. They haven’t stained my carpet and they still work just as well as the day I got them.

Super-tight grip that will offer many advantages

I know I write about bass fishing for a living but oddly enough, I’ve become really interested in shark fishing the past several years. Living only a few hours from the coast, I love to take trips to the Gulf and spend a week soaking baits and trying to catch the biggest, meanest creature I can find.

Until now, it has been nearly impossible to make pliers last through an entire trip. By the fourth or fifth day, whether it’s due to the sand, salt or whatever, my pliers will get seized up every single trip it seems like. I have not had that issue with the Rapala Elite Pliers; I’ve found them to be super durable and they work excellently for both fresh and saltwater fishing.

The big grips and tactile grip also help when I’m trying to tie those tough saltwater fishing knots with thick-diameter monofilament line. If you’ve ever tried it before, you know it’s horrible on your hands without a good set of pliers. These pliers have been a huge help with that.

The Mag Spring is a really good idea

I’ve always thought that storing pliers was a little annoying because most manufacturers design them to stay open which, of course, takes up a lot more room in your boat or tackle bag. The Rapala Elite Pliers, however, come with a Mag Spring system that allow you to keep ‘em close with the simple flip of the red switch you see in these photos. It sounds like a small addition but it certainly helps in a boat full of gear.

The Rapala Elite Pliers are available at the following retailers:

VMC Tokyo Rig Finesse Neko Review

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The VMC Tokyo Rig has been one of the hottest new bass fishing baits over the last 5 years. An innovative idea, the Tokyo Rig married a drop shot with power fishing in a unique, new way. It’s an effective bait at getting bit in good and bad conditions, muddy and clear water as well as by big and little fish. So there’s not a lot it can’t do.

But as much as I like the original, I think I like the finesse one even more.

That’s what we’re going to be talking about today, the VMC Tokyo Rig Finesse Neko Rig. That’s a mouthful, but essentially this is just a downsized Tokyo Rig with a Neko hook. This is one of the nastiest finesse setups I’ve fished with in quite awhile. Think “Ned rig meets drop shot” and that’s kind of the vibe I’m getting from it… and I’m digging these vibes.

The Tokyo Rig’s baby brother

Again, for all those familiar with a Tokyo Rig, this is basically the downsized version. The drop wire and the ring that attaches it to the swivel are the same size as the large version. But the swivel itself is a good bit smaller. The hook, as previously stated, is a VMC Finesse Neko Hook, which is available in four sizes: No. 1, No. 2, 1/0 and 2/0.

Anyone who has fished a Neko rig with this hook knows what it’s all about. This is a nasty little hook capable of hauling in big bass. It has a well-designed bend that does a good job of hooking fish and keeping them pinned. And even though it’s made with a fairly thin wire, the shape of the hook adds to its strength and it’s actually pretty hard to bend. So now you have a smaller version of the Tokyo Rig that’s still able to tie into big fish, all while giving you a platform to use more of your favorite finesse soft plastics.

Bait keeper

Looking a little below the eye of the hook, you’ll see VMC added a bait keeper. Using a drop of epoxy and what looks to be heavy monofilament, they designed a really sturdy but still flexible bait keeper that does a good job of keeping your bait in place, but doesn’t tear a big hole in the soft plastic when you’re initially getting it into position.

Most finesse baits are particularly soft, many even being hand poured. Baits like this are intentionally designed using softer plastic so that they’ll have more action. The only problem with that is the baits are easy to tear and you can go through a lot of them. This bait keeper is really well designed so that it doesn’t generate a lot of wasted baits, which is another win for this product.


You can rig baits a few different ways with this setup; rigging a soft plastic weedless is probably the most obvious. To do this, run the hook point through the nose of the bait and back out, then slide it up over the bait keeper and run your hook point through the body of the bait.

With the bait rigged this way you can fish around pretty thick cover. Considering that you’ll likely want to use fairly light weights with a finesse Tokyo rig, this is probably one of the most weedless baits you could possibly find to fish with. So it’s a great selection for chunk rock, gravel, submerged vegetation and wood. Again, it’s like a Ned Rig got together with a drop shot and spawned this little nugget that a bass can hardly resist. But this isn’t even the coolest way to use this rig in my opinion.

Nose-hooking a swimbait

Do you want to see a setup with some action? Try nose hooking a little swimbait with this thing. When you rig up a swimbait on a a jighead, the shaft of the hook acts kind of like a spine for the bait and makes it a little more rigid. But when you nose-hook a swimbait, the whole swimbait oscillates side-to-side from the nose to tail. And if we’ve learned anything from an umbrella rig, it’s that a little 2 1/2-inch metal rod hanging down below isn’t going to phase a bass.

Pitching this setup out and letting it pendulum back to the boat may be the next big craze when you pair it with forward-facing sonar. “Swing shotting” has been a pretty big deal from time-to-time in the past, where anglers pitch a drop shot out and let it pendulum back to the boat on a tight line. This allows the bait to slowly swim by suspended fish. I think this little rig with a nose-hooked swimbait takes that technique to a whole new level. I also can’t wait to try this same setup on bedding fish this spring. It’s going to be all but automatic.

In conclusion

Obviously, I’m gushing over this one; I really like this thing. I think it’s a well-designed product but it also is the missing link in a way. It’s like we jumped right over this piece of terminal tackle when we went from the drop shot to the Tokyo Rig and now we’re falling back and filling in the blank with the VMC Tokyo Rig Finesse Neko Rig.

With an ultra-sharp and strong hook, a well-designed bait keeper, four sizes from which to choose and several ways to rig it, there’s a lot going on in just a little bitty package. While a two-pack could be viewed as a little pricey at $4.69, these little guys should last you a pretty good while if fished on appropriate spinning gear. All in all, it’s a nice addition to the VMC lineup and anyone’s tackle box.

The VMC Tokyo Rig Finesse Neko is available at the following retailers: