Fly fishing line clippers, nippers, zingers, retractors.

Line Clippers & Retractors

Line clippers, cutters or nippers are fly fishing's favorite accessory. A close second is the retractor (or zinger) on which your line cutters are probably attached. Fly fishing line nippers from Abel, Dr. Slick, Fishpond, Rising, Tie-Fast, and Umpqua.

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Review of line nippers and retractors. We’ve used many, many line clippers over the years here in the flyshop. On a busy summer day, we may rig dozens of lines/backing/leaders for customers at the line machine. One piece of equipment that surely gets tested around here is line nippers. In fact, one of these days we’ll have to move the line machine away from the wall just to see how many pairs of line clippers have fallen back behind there. I have a feeling it will be like opening a time capsule of line nippers.

Line clippers, line cutters, or line nippers. I grew up calling them nippers but those three names all seem to be officially acceptable in the world of fly fishing. You may notice I call them line clippers one sentence, then line cutters the next, and then line nippers after that. This is 50% my own indecision and 50% for the sake of Google. Okay, maybe 60% for Google.

Most line clippers are fairly straight forward and any pair of line nippers on our website will be a worthy choice for a quality line cutting tool. That said, just don’t expect the $5 nippers to be as good as the $100 nippers.

Dr. Slick makes very dependable, long-lasting line clippers. We’ve found the Dr. Slick Offset Nipper to be a shop favorite for keeping at the line machine. The Rising Nippa is only $6 and is surprisingly sharp and long-lasting as well. The Rising Nippa also features a soft, rubber coating which is popular with customers and does provide a comfortable, non-slip grip… and pretty colors too.

Once you’ve chosen your nipper of choice, then you have the challenging question of where to place them for quick, convenience access. Over the years, I have gone with the “buy a bunch of them and put them everywhere” option. I have line clippers on my waders, on my jacket, on my pontoon boat, on various tackle bags, and in my big boat. Almost all of these line cutters/nippers have one thing in common, though. They are all attached to a zinger, or retractor.

Retractors, or zingers as I grew up calling them, pin-on or clip-on to your vest, pack, waders, boat, etc. Then, their retractable cord allows you to easily grab the nippers, cut your line, and release the nippers so that they retract back to the zinger ready for the next usage. Fast. Very fast.

The Dr. Slick Pin-On Reel is my zinger of choice in most instances. I do also like the Fishpond 360 Swivel Retractor or the Simms Retractor on packs or jackets that have special mounting locations where this kind of retractor is designed to be attached. Otherwise, the smaller reel-type retractor usually gets the call for me. One item of note, however, the pin-on zingers can often get knocked off of your jacket/vest/pack etc. For this reason, I always suggest squeezing and bending the pin-on clasp on the back of the zinger so that it is much less likely to get knocked off. Doing so, I rarely run into an issue with lost retractors/clippers.

So, there you go. Get yourself some clippers/nippers/cutters. Attach them to a zinger/retractor and them mount them to your vest/pack/waders/shirt/boat/tube or otherwise. Put them all over the place and make sure that you jingle when you walk. If you don’t jingle, add more.