4 Best fish bone pliers & tweezers: Make your preparation life easier

                by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  December 20, 2020

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Fish bones can be a hazard if swallowed, and biting into a fish bone while enjoying your beautifully prepared meal can ruin the whole experience. That’s why professional chefs and home cooks around the world use fish bone pliers or tweezers to ensure all bones are carefully removed.

While you can buy lovey fish fillets from the store, many prefer to purchase whole, fresh fish and do the filleting themselves. This is where a good pair of fish bone pliers or tweezers comes in handy. Yes, you can ‘make do’ with using your fingers to pull the bones out, or a sharp knife, but this ultimately leads to damaging the delicate flesh of the fish.

Eating fish has many benefits. Fish is an extremely healthy protein. Salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids that support heart health amongst other things. There are a number of ways to make preparing fish as enjoyable as eating fish.

Using fish bone pliers or tweezers to remove those tiny pin-needle bones is the best way to ensure your guests will enjoy a delicious, hazard-free meal.

Fresh fish on a chopping board

There are a number of ways to make preparing fish as enjoyable as eating fish.

What’s the difference between fish bone pliers and fish bone tweezers?

Both are extremely effective at removing large and small bones embedded in fish, so it’s really a matter of preference. Fish bone pliers are shaped like pliers from the hardware store. They have long, thin ‘noses’ like a pair of long-nosed pliers, and can help you grip and pull the bones out of the flesh of the fish.

Fish bone tweezers are shaped like larger versions of beauty tweezers that one would use to pluck eyebrows. They are usually made of stainless steel and the ends are coated in silicone for extra grip.

It’s up to you to choose which one suits your needs best.

My choice would be these machine washable stainless steel pliers from Chef’s Trade because of their sturdiness and ease of cleaning once you’re done.

The fish bone pliers from Chef’s Trade are at the top of my list, but there are other options that I’ve researched that you may prefer.

In this video from Howcast you can see how to use them:

Also read: the five best Teppanyaki grills to grill your fish

Let’s check out the best fish bone pliers and the best fish bone tweezers real quick and then get into a more detailed look at each of these:

Best Fish Bone Pliers
Images
Best dishwasher safe fish bone pliers: Chef’s Trade
Chefs trade fish bone pliers dishwasher safe

Chef’s Trade fish bone pliers

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Best grip: Asahi Industry Fish Bone Tweezers
Asahi fishbone tweezers III

Asahi fish bone tweezers

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Most durable fish bone tweezers:  Rosle Stainless Steel Fish Bone Tongs/Tweezers
Rosle stainless steel fish bone tweezers

Rosle stainless steel fish bone tweezers

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Best bone tweezers for salmon: WIN-WARE
Win-Ware fish bone pullers

Win-Ware fish bone pliers

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Fish bone pliers & tweezers buyer’s guide

What should you look for when you are in the market for a new pair of fish bone pliers or tweezers? Here are my top tips for buyers:

Grip: Some of the bones in fish can be embedded far into the flesh of the fish. This means that you will need to pull fairly hard to remove them. Your fish bone pliers or fish bone tweezers should offer good grips for you to hold onto. Many of the pliers on the market have silicone handles to aid in grip.

Durability: These pliers and tweezers need to be durable. They are going to be used in a wet environment. Using them with fresh fish means that the tools will be exposed to moisture. You will also want to be able to put them straight into the dishwasher after use to ensure that your kitchen doesn’t have that ‘fishy smell’ after you’ve prepared the meal.

Tweezers or pliers? This is a matter of personal preference. Some people prefer their fish bone removal tools to be shaped like pliers, as the handles offer extra grip strength. However, some chefs prefer to use the tweezer-shaped tools. Choose whichever type suits your needs best.

Price: As with all kitchen tools, price is a consideration. You don’t want to spend a fortune on something that you’re not going to be using every day, but at the same time, you need to invest in a quality item that won’t rust, and has been ergonomically designed for efficiency. Always check the quality of the steel – make sure it is stainless steel. You may pay a little extra for this, but it is worth it for the durability of the product.

Best fish bone pliers reviewed

Home chefs and professional chefs who are serious about ensuring the safety of their seafood use fish bone pliers and tweezers to remove unwanted bones from the meals they prepare. I’ve tried and tested a few of the options available, and I’ve shared my results below. If you’re in the market for a new pair of quality fish bone pliers or tweezers, I’m sure this guide will help you make an informed choice.

1.   Best dishwasher safe fish bone pliers: Chef’s Trade

Chefs trade fish bone pliers dishwasher safe

Chef’s Trade fish bone pliers

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These fish bone pliers will make the work of removing the bones very easy, and you will do it within the shortest time possible. The pliers made out of a strong and premium quality material, which makes it durable.

With the Chef’s Trade fish bone pliers, you will be able to remove both small and large fish bones with ease. I also love that they are dishwasher safe, so once you’re done using them you can just pop them in the dishwasher.

This is a high-quality kitchen tool, which is ideal for household use, as well as professional chefs. In my opinion, these are the best fish bone pliers on the market at the moment and I have them in my personal kitchen at home.

Notable features:

Check out the Chef’s Trade fish bone pliers here on Amazon

2.   Best grip: Asahi Industry Fish Bone Tweezers

Asahi fishbone tweezers III

Asahi fish bone tweezers

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Many people end up damaging their fish when they try removing the small bones. However, this is not the case with this Asahi Fish bone tweezers. While shaped like pliers, these are a ‘hybrid’ design that features the best of both tweezers and pliers. The larger handles offer great grip, while the tweezer-like narrow tip ensures less damage to the delicate flesh of the fish.

One thing you love about these tweezers or needle-nose pliers is that they have a precise and curved biting tip, something you will not find in any other product. This means you will have the perfect tool that you will need to debone your fish without causing any damage to it.

With a non-slip and ergonomic designed handle, as well as a spring between its handles, this pair of fish bone pliers will make your work seamless, especially when doing repetitive work.

Notable features:

The Asahi Stainless, Fish Bone Tweezers feature a precise, and curved biting tip, which is rare to find than other fish bone pliers or tweezers.

Many people who have used these pliers have given it lots of praise since they don’t damage the flesh during the deboning process.

Check out prices and availability here

3.   Most durable fish bone tweezers: Rosle Stainless Steel Fish Bone Tongs/Tweezers

Rosle stainless steel fish bone tweezers

Rosle stainless steel fish bone tweezers

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Sometimes the simple way is the most effective way. These high quality stainless steel fish bone tongs/tweezers are very simply designed, but with efficiency and effectiveness in mind. Not only are they great at removing fish bones, they can also be used as kitchen tongs to grip and flip bacon, and other items on a pan (just be careful not to let them heat up too much!)

The tip of the Rosle fish bone tongs has a flat, wide edge with grooves in it to improve grip. They are also dishwasher safe, so your clean up will be quick and easy. If you’re a fan of tweezer-style fish bone removers, then this is definitely my suggestion for you.

Notable features:

Check out the latest price of these Rosle Stainless Steel Fish bone Tongs/tweezers here on Amazon

4.   Best fish bone pliers for salmon: WIN-WARE

Win-Ware fish bone pullers

Win-Ware fish bone pliers

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This is a fantastic pair of fish bone pliers that you will need in your kitchen for pulling and removing pesky bones from fish. While it is one of the more expensive tools on this list, it is an extremely high quality item, and well worth the investment.

My only concern is that the nose of the pliers is fairly large, and so may damage the flesh of fish with very small bones that you have to dig out. This set of pliers will, however, work extremely well with salmon which tends to have more larger bones for removal.

Notable features:

Check them out on Amazon

How do you remove pesky bones from fish using fish bone pliers?

Step 1: Locate the bones

In the event that you don’t find any pin bone, don’t be worried since come sellers usually remove the bones before selling the fish.

Read more: Hibachi Chefs tools to make your cooking easier

Step 2: Hold the tip of pin bone

Step 3: Gently remove the bone

Step 4: Repeat the process for the remaining pin bones

Image of fish with fillet partially removed

How to fillet a whole fish in minutes. (Screen grab from video below)

How to fillet a whole fish

Whole fish are usually fresher than already-filleted fish that you can buy in your local grocery store. While it may seem daunting at first, filleting a fish is not a complicated process, and once you practice a few times, you’ll be able to impress your friends and family with your professional skills.

Another benefit of filleting the fish yourself is that you can keep the head and the bones to make a delicious fish stock. Plus you can remove any unwanted bones yourself – using your new fish bone pliers or tweezers. You have full control of the entire process and so you know you will be offering a quality, perfectly prepared meal for your friends and family to enjoy.

In the video below, Chef Mike Ward demonstrates how to easily fillet a whole Spanish mackerel in minutes.

Tips for filleting a whole fish:

  1. Use a very sharp knife. A sharp, non-serrated knife will allow you to glide easily through the flesh of the fish without tearing it. The flesh is fairly delicate and can be damaged by a blunt, or serrated blade.
  2. Start behind the fish’s ‘ear’. Find the first side fin, and slice your sharp knife down behind the fish’s ear, all the way until you feel the knife touch the bone.
  3. Gently slice from the head to the tail. Now run your knife from behind the fish’s ear, down to the tail right next to the spine. Continue this movement gently until you’ve sliced all the way into the flesh, down to the fish’s belly. The fillet should now come away from the spine really easily. It’s important not to press too hard while doing this. Be patient and allow the knife to do the work.
  4. If you’re preparing mackerel, or another type of bony fish, check your fillet for pin-sized bones. Use your tweezers or pliers to remove them. Or you can use a knife to carefully remove them as demonstrated by Chef Mike in the video. However – you will likely lose some flesh if you choose to remove the bones this way.

Watch the YouTube video for the entire process as demonstrated by Chef Mike Ward.

How to tell if a whole fish is fresh or not

You can tell how fresh a whole fish is by looking at its eyes. If the eyes are milky and white, then the fish is NOT fresh. If the eyes are clear and shiny, and the flesh of the fish is nice and firm, you can be sure that you’re buying a fresh, healthy fish.

Another benefit of buying a whole, fresh fish is that they are usually cheaper than pre-filleted fish.

Bottom line – find the best fish bone pliers or tweezers for your personal needs

There you go! Those are some of the best fish bone pliers and tweezers you can find out there in the market.

Getting a pair of these fish bone pliers means you won’t have a problem in preparing your fish since you will be able to remove the bones easily.

In addition, you will not be worried about eating or swallowing the dangerous pin bones from a fish.

Also read: the best teppanyaki seafood recipes

FAQs about preparing and eating fish

Should you remove the pin bones from fish?

Yes, even the small pin bones should be removed from any fish fillet that you are preparing. While they are smaller and thinner than the larger bones, they can still be a hazard if someone accidentally chokes on one. The best way to find these pin bones in fish fillets is by running your finger over the flesh to feel for them. Then remove them easily with your fish bone tweezers or pliers.

What fish has the least bones?

Different fish have different numbers of bones. Some fish can be very bony, and need a lot of preparation before cooking including tilapia, northern pike, carp and herring. However, some fish have very few bones like tuna, swordfish, whitefish and sole. Their bones are relatively easy to remove too. Ask your grocer or fishmonger for suggestions on which fish to buy.

What are the healthiest fish to eat?

Wild-caught Alaskan salmon is one of the fish that is highest in healthy omega-3s and calcium. They are also a sustainable source of fish as the fishing quotas are carefully monitored. Try this delicious & easy miso glazed salmon recipe.

Atlantic mackerel is high in protein and omega 3s. While it is very strongly flavored, it is delicious when prepared with the right herbs and spices. Find out how to prepare Tinapa (Filipino Homemade Smoke Fish using mackerel) here.

Sole (also known as flounder) is one of the healthiest, low-fat fish to eat. It also has a gentle flavor and is easy to prepare as it has very few bones.

Ever had trouble finding Japanese recipes that were easy to make?

We now have "cooking Japanese with ease", our full recipe book and video course with step-by-step tutorials on your favorite recipes.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.