May 19, 2022
By Ross Purnell
I can hear the moaning of keyboard warriors already . . . “$250 for a pair of nippers? I can get fingernail clippers from the drugstore for 99 cents.” Well, then maybe you should do that, because the waiting lists for these nippers at top fly shops will be long, and it’d be nice to let someone else get their hands on this hot commodity. I predict these new Abel Nippers ($250, abelreels.com) will be one of the best-selling retail items of 2022.
If you are the type of person who enjoys a quality-crafted, designed, and made-in-the-U.S. tool, you’ll pick up these nippers, feel their heft, run your thumb and forefinger over the smooth faceplate and grooved recesses, and you won’t want to put them down. When you pinch the jaws together, you’ll see the hardened 440C steel blades meet with exact precision. The blades are heat treated, and then precision ground. They are replaceable, and you can also sharpen them yourself. Just close the jaws and run them over fine-grit sandpaper. They melt through any monofilament or multifilament like a light saber, and then “spring” back open, without any springs at all. The jaws float open because of opposing nickel-plated neodymium magnets—two of them on each side of the nippers.
The magnets serve two purposes: They eliminate the need for springs, and they create the perfect fly keeper for almost any trout-sized fly patterns. I used a prototype on the Big Hole River for a week, and stored Beadhead Psycho Prince Nymphs, Copper Johns, and San Juan Worms and didn’t lose a fly. But when I lost a rig, my flies were right there ready to go—a big asset when the fishing is fast and furious, and also when you are fishing “minimalist style” without any fly boxes at all.
While you may choose to clip the nippers to your own lanyard or zinger, Abel Nippers come on their own adjustable cord coated with layers of thermoplastic polyurethane. It feels like a thick, smooth fly line around your neck. It will never collect dirt or sweat, or crack due to UV exposure.
And it won the 2022 IFTD Best of Show Accessories Over $50 award.