Forceps!

'Forceps' might be an uninspiring title for an article, but I think all pike anglers, particularly those with minimal experience, could learn from it.  It should go without saying that you shouldn't go pike fishing without adequate means of unhooking.  Many do so though and try to get by with forceps or pliers that are either too small, too weak or both.  
( I have enough unhooking tools to become a surgeon!)

For lure fishing, I find pliers the better option as they get a better grip on the often awkward hook holds.  For bait fishing my preference is forceps.  There are no hard and fast rules about the length of these tools, but for the record, the forceps I use are 9 inches long.  The most important point is that they are strong, grip tightly and do not flex easily.  There are plenty of branded forceps available, and they are mostly very good.  My latest forceps were cheap, so I bought three pairs from a local tackle shop for less than £12. (Sheltons of Peterborough). 

                                                                                           (Right - Pliers will grip this lure better than forceps)

Why three pairs?  Well, two is the minimum I will carry with me, and as I do a lot of pike fishing I like to have plenty of back up pairs so that I'm never rummaging around, and can find a pair easily when I need them.  This now leads me on to what I think is the most important point of this article.  When pike fishing, I believe you should carry two pairs of forceps as a minimum.  If you carry one pair and they break, perhaps get dropped over the side of the boat or into a deep bankside margin, or simply get lost, you cannot carry on pike fishing.  This has only happened to me once when I was making a trace in the boat. Whilst spinning a tag end, with them attached to the trace, they flew over the side and into the river.  It was only 11 O clock in the morning, but I had no choice than to pack up pike fishing.  Luckily I had my stick float rod with me and I spent the day fishing for chub.

Two pairs of forceps can sometimes be useful when you encounter difficult unhooking situations where the trebles are in awkward places. Near the gills for example.Once in a while I come across a tricky unhooking situation that has required two pairs of forceps. One to grip the top treble and keep it safely away from the gill rakers, or keep the wire tight whilst working on the other treble. 

( Be ready to unhook efficiently)

Forceps are a vital part of your tackle, and I recommend that you get some decent pairs and carry several with you.  They don't cost a lot so it won't break the bank to have a few pairs in your rucksack. When a pike is thrashing in the net, and you start to get excited, it's comforting to know it will be easy to lay your hands on your unhooking tools.