Tech Editor Fox Morgan shares their top tips for the best boat hook for catching a mooring buoy and other jobs around your boat.
What’s the best boat hook? Well that depends. There’s never just one is there…
I don’t know about you, but I have a love hate relationship with my current boat hooks onboard my sailboat. I have two different aluminium boat hooks
The long fixed length one, required for hooking buoys and anything that falls overboard lives in my lazarette and has to be carefully slid past a gas pipe and other snaggable items. I swear at it regularly and curse my lack of long pole stowage options.
The other boat hook I’ve got is a telescoping one that fits on the coach roof or under the sprayhood and is used for pulling the top section when dropping the main sail. It’s constantly getting jammed with salt water and doesn’t want to telescope. I swear at it regularly.
Deployment of boat hooks on my boat usually results in some form of cursing.
Best boat hooks
Read our review of the Revolve boat hook
Best boat hook for tiny stowage
Specifications: Length – fixed 190cm (15cm when rolled) | Pole material – carbon | Handle material – foam | Hook material – plastic
Reasons to buy: light weight | tiny rolled size fits in the smallest of spaces | plastic end less likely to damage boat fittings, alternative attachments available
Reasons to avoid: takes a few seconds to unroll and prepare | might be a little long for some jobs
I recently tested this boat hook and I have to say I was very impressed with how light and agile it was when unrolled.
You can do it slowly or if you’re feeling energetic then a quick flick of the arm and the pole is unrolled within 2 seconds.
You basically unravel the first bit with the foam which is the handle. Take a firm grip and swing it wildly like your wielding a light sabre or a sword.
When stowed coiled up the hook slots in to the middle on a small metal peg holding everything together. Just make sure you remember to remove the hook first if you’re going for the rapid deployment method! The pole floats but the hook doesn’t. I haven’t sworn at this one yet, so that’s a pretty good sign.
Lalizas Telescopic Boat Hook with 2 Ends
Best boat hook for pulling down sail slides
Specifications: Length – 65cm – 100cm | handle material – aluminium | hook material – plastic
Reasons to buy: light weight, short stowed size, plastic end less likely to damage boat fittings
Reasons to avoid: when telescoped this is a still a short pole, twist lock can get furred up with salt
This is my least cursed at boat pole. That’s probably because it’s really short and stowed under the sprayhood where I can grab it quick. I use this triple hooked end most specifically for the small curved hook. I slip this this between my mast and main sail allowing me to pull my sail slides down easily without scratching the mast. I can save myself climbing up the mast step to pull down the slack halyard with this too.
It’s a bit short for MOB drills as it doesn’t reach the water, but it can be handy for hooking a line from a pontoon or for grabbing and holding on to a filthy ladder in a lock while I throw a line up top or other jobs like that. This is my second one of these as my previous one was washed overboard during some particularly sporty conditions in the Celtic sea. So make sure it’s lashed down securely if stowed outside.
SANLIKE Telescopic Boat Hook
Specifications: Available in blue and gunmetal | length – telescopic 60cm – 140cm | handle material – aluminium | hook material – plastic
Reasons to buy: light weight | compact stowage size | plastic end less likely to damage boat fittings
Reasons to avoid: You can’t use the pole fully extended to push things due to the decreased tube diameter on the full extension | the telescoping mechanism can get fouled with salt water
There’s no shortage of telescoping poles on the market (pardon the pun) so we picked three of the type we’ve used personally. This one has a little quirk of a light up blob that fastens to the hook so you can see it in the dark.
It telescopes in length from a tiny 60cm which I find incredibly handy for hooking the head of my sail down with to a longer but not very long 140cm. This is ok for hooking things from the water if you have a smaller boat. If you have a boat with high topsides or a lot of freeboard then you will be needing a longer pole than this one.
What I find a pole like this one handy for is flicking my lines around a cleat on the pontoon or for hooking things that are just our of arms reach to save me from leaning over the water unsafely.
Five Oceans Telescoping Boat Hooks
Best boat hook for budget/value
Specifications: weight 680grams | length – 120cm to 210cm | handle material – aluminium | hook material – plastic
Reasons to buy: light weight | stows easily | plastic end less likely to damage boat fittings
Reasons to avoid: telescopic poles are difficult to use to push things with | the telescoping mechanism can get fouled with salt water
This is a really popular boat hook and can be seen on a great many boats across US and Europe. I suspect mostly due to the budget friendly nature of it and it’s do everything appeal.
It features that universally familiar twist lock opening and closing cam that allows extension or shortening of the pole. This isn’t without flaws as that cam can become salt encrusted with time so if you hook is going to live outside or get a dousing then make sure you rinse it to avoid the cam jamming up or becoming sticky. The double hook is useful for pulling as well as snaking lines around it to grab hold of a loose rope.
Hook & Moor Telescopic boat hook model 2019
Best boat hook for mooring buoys/rings
Specifications: length – 1m when in stowage mode. 1.8m when in use. (available inn longer lengths up to 320cm) | handle material – aluminium | hook material – plastic and metal
Reasons to buy: stows easily | sturdy hook end | efficient for catching mooring rings and automatically feeding rope through it
Reasons to avoid: has a specific single use so not suitable for fending off or pulling halyards etc.
This hook has a designated purpose and if you, like me spend a fair bit of time going on and off of buoys, it can make life a bit quicker and mean you have to spend less time on your belly, up on the bow feeding a line through the mooring buoy ring.
It’s useful to feed a line around any cleat or ring actually so it can save a jump to a pontoon too if you have a good aim.
I did find it a bit of a fiddle at first and had to re-arm it a couple of times after my aim was off. the weight of the pole is considerably more than those others in this buyers guide, mainly due to the sturdy mechanical hook end.
If you have a larger sail boat with high freebaord there’s a longer length 3.2m version that will enable easier mooring buoy hooking.
Lahnakoski Pine / Metal Boat Hook
Best boat hook for simplicity
Specifications: length – 3 options 180cm, 240cm, 300cm | handle material – pine wood | hook material – metal | rubber end
Reasons to buy: solid wooden pole, sturdy metal hook, great for pushing with as well as hooking.
Reasons to avoid: harder to stow a long fixed pole, metal hook can damage delicate boat fittings.
A wooden boat hook is a lovely thing to hold if it is nicely varnished and maintained. There’s nothing to go wrong with a simple wooden boat pole apart from keeping an eye on the metal hook for signs of corrosion if you choose the metal hook option. This pole can also be fitted with a plastic hook which a lower cost option. I’ve always preferred a solid pole where possible. It feels stable and secure. The trouble can be in the safe stowage though so some boats have these mounted at a back stay or up against a vertical mount near the helm position. If you were trying to hook a MOB or pet over board (POB), then I’d be a lot happier having the option of a solid pole than a smaller telescoping pole. Get the longest you feel you can handle. don’t scrimp in length!
Trem Cadet Telescopic Boathook
Best boat hook for visibility
Specifications: Available in red or white | length – telescopic 120 to 210cm | handle material – aluminium | hook material – plastic
Reasons to buy: light weight, stows easily, plastic end less likely to damage boat fittings
Reasons to avoid: telescopic poles are difficult to use to push things with, the mechanism can get fouled with salt water
Most boat hooks come in plain alumium and wood colours. So it’s a refreshing change to see one that is er, easy to see. A red boat hook is much easier to find amongst an array of similar looking aluminium poles, dinghy paddles and so on.
The telescoping Boat hook stows at its smallest length 120cm and extends up to 210cm which is long enough for most jobs. The pole extends by twisting to unlock and relock.
Extending poles are most useful for retrieving thongs from the water and for pulling down on sail slides or halyards that are hard to reach. They’re also useful for hooking a mooring buoy, but this one will require on your own dexterity to pull a line through a mooring loop as it has a standard plastic double hook end. Whilst you can push smaller boats away from a dockside with this pole, you are unlikely to want to put a lot of load through that push, else you will find your pole starting to shorten as it might reach the limit of the twist grip clamp on the telescoping mechanism.