Study Shows Lip-Gripping Devices (Boga Grips) Damaged 80% of Bonefish

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Fly Fishing
boca grip
bonefish
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lip-gripping device
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Added Date:
Tuesday, 12 Aug, 2008
Summary
Those mechanical lip-gripping goodies (Boga Grips is a well-known brand) might be popular among saltwater fly fishermen, but probably not with fish: a study published in Fisheries Research magazine says they damage between 80% and 100% of the bonefish they touch.
 
Content
Those mechanical lip-gripping goodies (Boga Grips is a well-known brand) might be popular among saltwater fly fishermen, but probably not with fish: a study published in Fisheries Research magazine says they damage between 80% and 100% of the bonefish they touch.

Remember that warm, satisfying catch & release glow? If you were using a grip, you might have killed nearly half your catch:

the lip-gripping device caused mouth injuries to 80% of bonefish restrained in the water and 100% of bonefish held in the air, always when fish thrashed while being held. Some of the injuries were severe (40%) and included separating the tongue from the floor of the mouth, creating tears and holes in the soft tissue of the lower jaw, and splitting the mandible.

See you on the bonefish flats, Tom Chandler.

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Destinations
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This is a small town with a big heart, a veritable fisherman’s paradise. Located near the fish-filled Madison River, and surrounded by the waters of Ennis Lake, the Ruby River, Hebgen ... moreLake, Quake Lake, Henry’s Lake, the Big Hole River and scores of smaller streams, the town boasts what many consider the best trout fishing in the world. As well known for its wranglers as its anglers, Ennis has succeeded in maintaining the look and feel of its original, gold town roots. Warm and hospitable, the area offers a wide variety of accommodations ranging from simple campsites, rustic motels and gracious hotels, to full-service, luxury resorts. Fly shops are numerous, stocked by local experts ready to advise and assist, while guides can be booked for trips throughout the area.

Boredom is the only thing unavailable in Ennis. Throughout the summer season the city hosts a series of events, including its renowned 4th of July Celebration Parade and a genuine, old-fashioned rodeo. In August, fly-fishing luminaries from around the US, flock to Montana to compete in the Madison Fly Fishing Festival. Athletes also find their way to Ennis to compete in the city’s Madison Trifecta, two shorter races followed by a full Marathon at 9000 feet, the highest elevation run in America. For the true sportsman, October falls in with the annual Hunter’s Feed. What’s caught, typically elk, moose deer, pheasant and bobcat, gets cooked on the streets and served up to hungry spectators.

Flanked by three grand mountain ranges, The Tobacco Root, Gravelly and Madison, Ennis is scenic and entertaining – truly an authentic, fly fisher’s haven.
Fishing Waters
 (2)
The Jefferson River is an important part of a system of rivers that combine to form the majestic Missouri. Starting at the confluence of the Big Hole and Beaverhead rivers near Twin ... moreBridges, Montana, it winds 77 miles in a northeasterly fashion to Three Forks. Here, it meets with the Madison and Gallatin rivers that together converge into the Missouri River at the Missouri Headwaters State Park. Like so many other rivers in Montana, the Jefferson, named by Clark in honor of the U.S. President, runs deep with history. In fact, the Jefferson River is a segment of the larger Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, administered by our National Park Service.

When thinking about the Jefferson, a Class 1 river for recreational enjoyment, most observers view the river in three distinct sections. Characterized by slow, meandering flows, the upper third works its way through a broad, arid valley. Along this braided, 44 mile long floodplain, you will encounter working farms, dense cottonwood stands, flowered meadows and a variety of wildlife until you reach the town of Cardwell. Throughout the next 15 miles, its waters flow through a narrow, steep canyon where the water can be deep, slow and contained. As a result, the stretch from Cardwell to the Sappington Bridge has comparatively fewer trees, swamps, meadows and wildlife.

At Sappington Bridge the river once again becomes a circuitous, rambling river, rich in swamp life, colorful fields, large cottonwood groves and productive agricultural land. The presence of significant agriculture has resulted in competition for water use. During dry years, the river was tapped generously for irrigation, dropping water levels to the point where fish populations were adversely affected. Recent improvement in riparian management has tended to alleviate these issues. Primarily known as a brown trout river, rainbows, mountain whitefish, burbot and northern pike can also be found here. Less well known and less discovered, the Jefferson offers the opportunity to catch large fish in a scenic, un-crowded environment.
 (3)
The Big Hole River starts in the Beaverhead Mountains south of Jackson, Montana and flows on for about 156 miles. Beginning as a slight stream, it picks up muscle as it joins with ... morethe North Fork, and draws more volume as it passes through the Wise River basin. At the Continental Divide it changes its northeasterly direction and heads southeast until it joins the Beaverhead and forms the Jefferson River close to the town of Twin Bridges, Montana. It hosts one of the last known habitat for the native fluvial artic grayling but is best known to fly fishers for its trout.

Like so many Montana rivers, the Big Hole is as full of history as it is of water. When Lewis and Clark stumbled upon it, the river was providing a buffer zone between rival Indian tribes vying for land as they sagely anticipated the westward push of European miners, furriers and settlers. Fifty years later, a significant number of the Nez Percé, a tribe that had initially befriended the Expedition, refused to accept life on a reservation and were nearly wiped out by U.S. troops in the Battle of the Big Hole. Today’s battles consist of quarrels between ranchers who desire water for irrigation and recreational users who wish to see the water preserved.

//

Fishing the river can be basically divided into three sections. From the headwaters at Skinner Lake to Fish Trap, the river meanders slowly through high meadowlands. This is where the few remaining artic grayling can be found, although browns and rainbows are in abundance here. In the second section, Fish Trap to Melrose, you will find boulders and pocket water rushing through a narrow canyon; here rainbows outnumber the browns with an estimated 3000 fish per mile. The final section, Melrose to Twin Bridges, is lined with cottonwood bottoms, braided channels and long, slow pools. In contrast to the second link, browns outnumber rainbows 2 to 1 with approximately 3000 fish per mile.
 (4)
If fly wranglers were gossips, the “Blue Ribbon” Madison River would likely be their primary object of attention. Arguably it’s the most talked over, written up and frequented river ... morein the entire state of Montana – and that’s saying something. What’s more, no one has anything bad to say about it and that’s for a good reason. There’s nothing bad to say. Its scenic journey begins in Yellowstone National Park at the convergence of the Gibbon and Firehole rivers and continues for 19 miles through parkland. Within the Park, fishing rules apply: no live bait and sorry to disappoint, but it’s catch and release only. Once outside the Park the river meanders past working ranches, stately conifer forests and cottonwood lined banks, interrupted by riffles and quiet runs that contain large rainbow and trophy brown trout. Flowing alongside Yellowstone’s West entrance road, the river enters the Hebgen Lake, created by Hebgen dam, until it reaches Quake Lake, a bit downstream from the dam. At this point the river is commonly called either the Upper Madison or the Lower Madison, although in fact, they are one and the same.

Upper Madison – Quake Lake to Ennis Lake
Directly below Quake Lake the river roars into 5 long miles of Class V whitewater with steep gradients and large boulders along the way. As the rapids decline, the magic begins. For the next 53 miles, often referred to as the 50 Mile Riffle, the cold river runs north and the fish jump high. Annual runs of spawning trout make their way from Hebgen Lake, rainbows in the spring and browns in the fall. Known the world over for its “hard fighting” trout, it’s not unusual to pull a 25” brown from these upper waters. In deference to the purists and fly-fishing enthusiasts, it’s wading only from Quake Lake to Lyons Bridge. Boats may be used to access the river, but if you’re going to fish, your feet must be on the riverbed. Fortunately, the Hegman releases water throughout the year, leveling its flows and relieving it of spring runoff issues and summer shrinkage.

//
Lower Madison – Ennis Lakes to Three Forks
A short section of the river between Ennis Dam and the power station maintain relatively low water levels and provide wonderful opportunities for wading. Past the power station the river regains its muscle and for 7 miles winds through Bear Trap Canyon. Hiking trails offer the only entry, great for those that like to walk and seek the solitude of a designated wilderness area. Floating is permitted but requires a lengthy shuttle and the ability to work through Class III-IV whitewater. Once out of the canyon the river flows in shallow riffles until it reaches Three Forks and joins the Missouri. From Warm Springs to Greycliff, the river is easily accessible for drifters and wading.
Trips
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The Gallatin River is one of the closest, in proximity to Bozeman. As it makes its course from Yellowstone National Park to the Headwaters of the Missouri River, the Gallatin River ... moreflows through a diverse topography. High mountain meadows near Yellowstone Park, robust pocket water through the Gallatin Canyon, and the wide open spaces of the Gallatin Valley offer three distinct environments in which to fish and explore this fine river. Since it is smaller than many of our other rivers, the Gallatin offers a good opportunity for fishing on foot. Consistent hatches of caddis, mayflies and stoneflies throughout the season make the Gallatin an easy choice on any day.
$
550
/ Boat
Capacity:
2 anglers
Days:
Daily
Duration:
1 day
Destination:
We specialize in guiding on the Big Hole river. We cater to anglers of all skill levels, from beginner fly fishermen looking to catch that first trout on a fly, to the seasoned angler ... moreseeking a veteran Montana fishing guide who knows these waters like the back of their hand. Our experienced guides will work hard to help you have a first-rate Montana fly fishing experience.
$
525
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Days:
Daily
Duration:
1 day
Fishing Waters:
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With over 55 combined years of experience fishing Ennis Lake and Madison River, we have the deep knowledge needed to guide you to the monsters. Located in Ennis, Montana, one of the ... moretop fly fishing towns in the world, Red Mountain Adventures is conveniently located to help you with your fishing experience.

We'll take you to the land of giant trout that cruise Ennis Lake. Cast to rising trout or bring them in by stripping small lake buggers is a lot of fun. A day on Ennis lake is a special experience to enjoy the views and tangle with fincky monster trout.
Outfitters
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Ennis Montana Premier Fly Fishing Outfitter and Fly Shop on the Madison River Trout Stalkers is a fly fishing outfitter that specializes in Montana and Madison River Fly Fishing Trips. ... moreWe are located in Downtown Ennis and just three blocks from some of the best fly fishing in Montana, on the Upper Madison River. Our fly shop is staffed with experienced and welcoming fly fishermen who enjoy sharing their knowledge.

Trout Stalkers fly shop and online store features a diverse collection of the finest fly fishing gear, clothing, fly fishing gifts, fly rods, reels, flies, rental gear, boats and accessories. Our carefully curated fly selection is focused on proven fly patterns for the Madison River and other major southwest Montana rivers.

We have a variety of watercrafts and rafts for rent and for sale, including inflatable rafts equipped with fishing frames, drift boats, kayaks and SUPs. We also have an ever-changing fleet of new and used rafts and drift boats for sale. Need a Madison River shuttle service? We can help with that too.

Our extensive knowledge of fly fishing the Madison River stems from many years and countless days spent “driftin’ and dreamin'" on this great river from top to bottom. We strive to make every visitor to Ennis, Montana feel comfortable and welcome in our fly shop. We want you to have a great Montana fly fishing experience and our top-notch, seasoned guide staff will work hard to make sure of it! Our motto at Trout Stalkers is simple: The first time you fish with us you're a client. The second time you're a friend!
29 comments
my only comment is...... try lipping a 10-15 lb. bluefish without a boga or other like device and see how ye fair!
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I have used the lip gripper on big Northern Pike for many years. There are proceedures. First tie it to your boat. Next never fight the fish, just let go. In a minute, pull the fish up slowly and look at the best way to remove the lure hook. After the hook removal, which may need a jaw spreader and a long tool, open the jaws and let him go. If you want a picture dont lift with the gripper. Let the ... more fish rest while you get ready. Pull him up slowly and reach your hand under the gills and grab the center bone. Use protective gloves. Un lock the jaws .... Remove the fish from the water ..... Support the mid section with the other hand..... Shoot..... release. Weighing can hurt the fish. The cradles are awlful and remove a lot of protective slime which can kill a pike. With a gripper you may never even touch a Pike.
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Read this with some interest as I was contemplating buying a boga for handling pike and musky up here in the north country, even a little 12 inch pike can rip your finger up with all those teeth! I'm a bass fisherman so really not necessary for that so why you would use it on a bone or red fish seems ridiculous, especially given the research, there are better ways to handle even toothy fish so glad ... more I read this and won't waste my money buying a boga!,
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I agree with all of the above but if you ever go Tiger Fishing on the Zambezi River then dont even think of leaving home without your Boga Grip.
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Just realised im a few years late...
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Michael: Anyone who can't reach over the edge of a skiff and tail an exhausted bone should be brought back to the dock. Totally agree!
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I agree.
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[...] of my favorite fishing blogs, The Trout Underground, covered the issue some time back. The Bad Idea Jeans [...]
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[...] in Hawaii. It was caught on bait, so the task was a little bit easier, but when they put the boca (not recommended, encouraged or endorsed) on it, it went to 16.5#, which is really, really frigging large. I#8217;ve seen some big [...]
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I have seen some tarpon fishermen using slings, though they seem uncommon for bonefish. Given that bonefish don't really have teeth, it's hard to see why a boga is needed.
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Hi I can see no need or use for lip lifting! As for weighing surely a weigh sling made for the job is the way to go. Also a unhooking mat would not go amiss as well. Not sure if you have this things your side of the pond though. Cheers Dave.
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WindKnot: aka Bonehead aka Flatswalker aka Mr. Fish Bones Mr. Bones (if that is your *real* name); I'm always fine and dandy with guesstimates on fish ("long as the net plus one inch" is an accepted form of bragging right around here). Keep spreading the word on the Boga...
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Seems a little late to chime in on this, but I'd have to agree with the comments above. As a professional guide of over 9 years, I have to admit to using a boga grip... all of about 3 times. Even before reading studies on the damage to fish (which I completely believe) I realized that there was simply no good reason to use Boga Grips on most any fish. Almost all fish have a "correct" way of being ... more handled that minimizes damage to the fish and angler. For bonefish all you have to do is reach down the leader and cover their head with your hand. This immediately calms the fish and then you can back out your (naturally barbless) fly. If the hook is really in there - as can happen with big bones that pull that fly into the corner of their mouths and into the jaw bone (ouch!) - you can lightly grab the fish by the base of the tail to get the necessary leverage to remove the hook. Most of my fish nowadays are released with almost no human contact at all following the above instructions. So, why did I ever use a Boga Grip at all? Well, to see if my guesses on fish weights was anything near accurate. The first fish I used it on I guessed at 5 pounds; Boga Grip: 5.25 pounds. After a couple more experiences like that - guessing within a quarter pound - I put it away and frankly have no earthly idea where the dang thing even is now. Kudos to publishing this article and hopefully more folks will read it. Tight lines, WindKnot aka Bonehead aka Flatswalker aka Mr. Fish Bones
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[...] of my favorite fishing blogs, The Trout Underground, covered the issue some time back. The Bad Idea Jeans [...]
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great site!! i agree 100% about bogas damaging effects on fish something has to be done about this device ..i believe it has its place in the angling world .but extreme care and caution MUST dictate how its used...please read article @ weresthefish.com "no more boga grips-stop lynching our fish" tell us your view.... by the way great site you have here!!! thanks again..patterman!
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Every experience fishermen should have already know bonefish has delicate mouth. I strongly againts using a lip grip on them. There are other effective ways to weigh a fish than hooking it from their mouth. For catch and release, thats cruel.
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Philip: I wouldn't assume a Boga wouldn't hurt bigger, more predatory fish. After all, it's the weight and the thrashing against a relatively small point of contact that seems to cause injury. I think people are using the Bogas on fish like bones to get a weight.
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What imbecile would use a Boca grip on a bonefish? As others have pointed out, the gnarly predator fish have much stronger mouths (all the better to eat you with) and are probably not hurt by the device at all.
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I have no idea why people use them on trout. Perhaps because they think that it limits touching the fish and don't realize the damage it can cause. Ever since I got into this sport I've heard how a trout's jaw is not as strong as that of a bass and that one should never lip a trout. That's probably why it is always difficult when I see these pictures of a trout on a Boga...
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Shannon: The new rubberized nets aren't too bad (and hooks don't get tangled either), though nets can split/fray fins. Still, you can largely keep the fish in the water with a net, which is a nice touch. And all are better than shooting fish. I feel safe in saying that.
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I am completely on board. Toothy types seem more resilient. I have not done this (or had the need to do this), but if one is determined to weigh a fish, there's the option of weighing a fish in a net. But there's the downside of what a net does as well? shannon
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Shannon: You make a good point, and the study wasn't designed to compare hook injuries to Boga grips. Still, I would disagree that a hook is more damaging than a Boga, especially if the fish was lifted by a Boga for a weight. Since hooks are usually lodged in the lips instead of the tongue or the floor of the mouth, it seems possible (even likely) that hooks cause less damage than a Boga, especially ... more if someone lifts the bone out of the water with the Boga to get a weight. Michael: I agree - in light of this information, they really shouldn't be used on anything but the toothy types, and frankly, I'd look hard for an alternative before using one there.
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Kind of ridiculous if you ask me, and I applaud the study. Plain and simply, Boga-grips are purposed for toothy fish and/or those with sharp jaws and/or gill plates - the kind of fish you don't want your fingers near. The scales are hardly accurate either, particularly on a heavier fish in a bobbing boat. Anyone who can't reach over the edge of a skiff and tail an exhausted bone should be brought ... more back to the dock.
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I guess what I was trying to say is - In general don't we think a fish hook does more damage on average than a Boga? I guess, all things being "equal" (the key word), and seeing today's penchant for piercing, I would rather have my lip pierced than be lifted fifty feet in the air by my lip. Now if I were pierced in the lung or gizzard .... shannon
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Trout? Really? Is it because they want to weigh the things?
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I've had some doubts about a boga grip for many species. It seems that people are using them on trout as well. I can only imagine what one would do to a trout's jaw if the fish thrashed at all...
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Shannon: I read a copy of the report: the fish were collected for the study using a seine, which presumably wouldn't affect their mouths at all. The study was supported by a long list of fairly reputable academic and industry groups (including Bonefish Tarpon Unlimied) so it's not a stealth attack by an anti-fishing group. It's important to note that the grippers didn't really any damage until the ... more fish thrashed, though that's something you could expect would happen.
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OK, so how much damage does a hook cause? Could all of the injuries described have actually been caused by hook?
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Shannon
ok u try see what happens to u when you have hook in ur mouth is it painful aim sure it is i got boga and i use it when i get fish to eat its not that i use it for catch and release i get my fish to eat so i use it for subsistence foods most damage are from catch and release i see fish thrown and aim sure u do in the people using u tube as a showcase like there being so good but they get the fish ... more tired and most do die when they let them go
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