Everyone knows how to extend the jaws on a Gerber, right? Push down on the two spring-loaded buttons and shake your wrist. Poof, instant pliers. The most obvious feature of the Gerber Multi-Plier 600 Fisherman is of course, the plier jaws. Over 5/8” longer than the standard Gerber needlenose jaws, they taper down to an extremely slender point. Crisp serrations run nearly to the tip. It’s an ideal arrangement for removing a stubborn fishhook from the mouth of that four-inch bluegill that your son or daughter caught. No other multi tool manufacturer offers a tool with jaws like the Fisherman has.
But as with all things that seem too good to be true, there is a downside with the extra long jaws. Most obvious is the fact that they do not retract completely back into the body of the tool. In the closed position, slightly more than one inch of pointy jaw end remains sticking out, threatening to stab a hole through the bottom of your back pocket should you absentmindedly slip it back there for a moment.
These puncturing possibilities must have occurred to the folks at Gerber as well, because they saw fit to add a heavy brass rivet at the bottom of the sheath. (Other sheaths for Gerber tools have no such rivet.) Rivet or no, it still felt like the plier tips were trying to stab their way out the bottom, especially when I wore the tool on my belt and sat down to drive. Rather than risk a hole in the vinyl seat of my dad’s boat, I removed the Fisherman from its sheath and stowed it in the tackle box.
Bottom line; the extra-long needlenose pliers are a great feature for some people, but a multi tool is no good if you can’t carry it with you on your person. Gerber should have included a heavily reinforced leather sheath with this tool.
Also mounted in the jaws is a pair of tungsten carbide wire cutter inserts. In my opinion, this is one of the best innovations Gerber has ever come up with. Much harder than any type of steel, stainless or otherwise, tungsten carbide slices through hard or soft wire like butter. The cutting edges are unlikely to ever get dull. However, because it is so hard and brittle, the cutting edges are prone to chipping. Should this happen on the Fisherman, simply use the supplied Torx wrench to remove the screw and rotate the three-sided carbide insert to the next position. Voila, back in business.
Blade-wise, the Fisherman comes equipped with a drop point non-serrated knife blade, a sheepsfoot blade that is fully serrated, and this combination chisel/file blade. The file is double cut on one side, with a fine diamond coating on the other. Thoughtfully included is a groove running down the center for sharpening fish hooks. The diamond isn’t quite as nice as a Leatherman diamond file, but is more than adequate. I for one will use a diamond file many times more often than a single or double cut regular file.
Also included amongst the blades is the standard “Fiskars” scissor tool. As scissors go, this implement is nothing to brag about. Actually, it’s somewhat of a disappointment coming from a company that specializes in scissors. The length of the cutting edges are too short, meaning you have to take a lot more strokes when cutting across a sheet of paper. And the handle is too skinny, digging into your thumb if you attempt to cut any cardstock or plastic blister pack material. However, if all you are doing is nipping off the leftover monofilament from a freshly tied knot, then the Fiskars are adequate. But they could be better.
Rounding out the blade selection is an awl with sewing hole, a cap lifter, a phillips screwdriver, a small and a medium screwdriver blade, and a lanyard ring. That’s right, a lanyard ring. Why in the heck do they take up precious blade space with a lanyard ring? Okay granted, maybe somebody on the planet would use this silly thing. I doubt it though, because the ring folds out right in the middle of the tool, and an attached lanyard would get in the way of everything. Much better would have been for Gerber to use this position for a large standard screwdriver blade, or some other implement a person could pry with. As it is, none of the included blades are suitable for prying.
There are good and bad things to say about the Gerber folding blade system. On the positive side, all of the blades lock using the SAF.T.PLUS locking system. Black plastic slides lock each tool securely in place, and very little physical effort is required to unlock them. (This feature is especially appreciated when folding a blade away using cold, wet fingers.)
Another plus is that none of the blades have a tendency to clump together. You get only the tool you want, not two or three of its neighbors. This is due to the thin flat-washers placed between the blades. Each washer has a small tab that engages a slot in the handle, preventing it from rotating when you select a blade. The rotary motion of your blade is not passed on to the blade next to it.
But the Gerber method also has its drawbacks. Chief among them is the fact that in order to access the blades, the entire tool has to be opened up. Want to use the Phillips screwdriver? First slide out the plier jaws, then open up the handles, then fold out the screwdriver. Close the handles, then slide the jaws back in to lock the handles closed. Finally ready.
It doesn’t sound like much, but this five step process gets annoying after awhile.
Another downer with the Fisherman is the typical Gerber rattles and clunks. Brand new, this thing reminds me of my old pickup truck. Why so clunky? I think it is part of the design, the price Gerber pays for using the sliding jaw system. I do not believe the rattling implies a lack of strength, but it does take away from the class of a $65 multi tool.
And finally, my biggest gripe about the Fisherman has to do with its corrosion resistance. Actually, its lack thereof. For a tool with the name “Fisherman,” this thing rusts ridiculously easy. (I took the accompanying photos BEFORE getting the tool wet.) After two trips out onto Lake Michigan, it is already peppered with rust speckles. Everywhere. What would the Fisherman Tool look like if my dad fished saltwater species? I can only imagine.
The use of 400-series stainless steel is common in multi tools and knives, because of this grade’s strength and hardness qualities. More corrosion-resistant 300-series stainless is too soft for tools. The best way to minimize oxidation on 400-series stainless is to give it a highly polished finish, like the Swiss manufacturers do. Not a bead-blast finish. Gerber should have put a mirror shine onto a multi tool intended to be taken out on the water. Or chrome plated it.
All-in-all, the Gerber Multi-Plier 600 Fisherman is a pretty decent tool. Not as refined as some of its competitors certainly, but those long skinny jaws get into places where no other multi tool can reach.
- Extra long needlenose jaws
- Tungsten carbide wire cutters
- Diamond file
- Sheath is too flimsy for the protruding jaws
- Jaws and handles have to be opened up to access blades
- Rusts too easily
Length closed 5-11/16”
Width Closed 1-1/2”
Length open 7-3/16”
Weight 7.6 oz