The Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide
Emergencies and First Aid
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Removing a Fishhook


Never remove a fishhook that is embedded in the eye or face; seek medical attention immediately to have it removed. A fishhook embedded in skin should be removed by a doctor. If you are in a remote area and a doctor is not available, remove the fishhook following the directions in the illustration below. If the fishhook is embedded deeply in tissue, follow the instructions below for a multibarbed fishhook.

A multibarbed fishhook should ideally be removed by a physician. If this is not possible, cut the eye off the shank of the hook, and then push the shank of the hook through the wound, following the path of the hook until the barbs exit and can be grasped with pliers. Flush the area well with running water, clean it with soap and water, and cover it with a bandage.


First, make sure that any bystanders are out of the way of the fishhook’s path. Next, loop a piece of fishing line several times around the belly of the hook near the skin surface. Press the shank of the hook against the skin with your index finger (1).

Wrap the other end of the string several times around the index finger of your other hand (use your thumb to hold the loose end of the string tightly) (2).

Move your index finger close to the hook to generate slack in the line. Pull on the string suddenly, with a jerk, in line with the hook. Flush the area with water, clean it with soap and water, and bandage it.



©2000–2006 President & Fellows of Harvard College

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