Abel Nippers Long Term Review

These nippers have become quite controversial in recent years. I have met some folks who are downright angry that Abel is charging such a high price for these nippers. I will admit, they aren’t for everyone. Just like a really nice watch or necklace isn’t for everyone. They cost a lot of money and there’s no reason that a cheaper option won’t work instead.

However, for folks looking to buy a nipper that will definitely last a lifetime – the Abel nipper is it. It is machined out of the highest grade 6061-T6 aircraft aluminum and it is hand anodized for an extremely durable and beautiful finish. I like to think of the Abel nipper as a collectors item. As long as you don’t lose it, it will be in your gear quiver for a lifetime.

Despite the price, I think serious fly fisherman should consider this nipper. When you think of all the cheap nippers you’ve bought over the years, wouldn’t it be nice to have a lifelong nipper? An indestructible cutting machine that will never go bad? That is the Abel nipper.

This article will cover the pros and cons of this nipper, and give an honest insight into the durability of it. I have had mine for almost 5 years, and it is still going strong.

The Cutting Jaws On Abel Nippers

Now I won’t lie here, the jaw blades are definitely not as sharp as they were 5 years ago. However, they still cut any size of tippet with ease. I find that they do struggle a bit with 6x tippet. Sometimes it can take a couple tries to get a clean cut. They will cut down to 7x tippet, but if I have to fish 7x then I don’t want to be out fishing…

The jaw blades really perform when it comes to cutting heavy tippet. 100 pound fluorocarbon is a cakewalk for these blades. For saltwater and big game fly fisherman, the Abel nipper is a worthy choice for sure. Crucible CPM S35VN stainless steel makes up the blades construction. It is some pretty hardcore stuff.

Abel will replace the blades for a reasonable fee, but I just haven’t got around to it yet. They still work pretty darn well, and I don’t feel like sending them back and waiting a while for the repair.

The Anodized Finish On Abel Nippers

I opted for the brown trout finish. I love brown trout, and i’m pretty sure every fly fisherman does. The cost for the fish finish was $185 back when I bought these. Thats a good chunk of money for a nipper! However, it is now a whopping $335 if you want a premium finish on your Abel nipper. Solid colors aren’t cheap either, and it will cost you $270 for a regular color. This isn’t just Abel being holier-than-thou, hyper inflation is real in the fly fishing industry. Some items prices have gone up astronomically for this coming season.

Over the years, the finish has held up pretty well. It definitely looks more tarnished now, lots of little micro scratches that have started to fade the finish a bit. There have been no big scratches that seriously affect the look, though. They look well used but the colors still pop.

The hand anodization of the aluminum is a very permanent process. It isn’t just a paint job like some people think. Once the nipper is anodized using Abel’s special technique, it is very hard to remove.

So i’m fine if my nippers have some battle scars. It just proves that they’ve been with me on every fishing excursion since I got them.

The Hook Eye Cleaner On Abel Nippers

This is a handy feature that lots of nippers have nowadays. Lots of commercial flies come with some glue in the hook eye. It just happens. The eye cleaner is designed to remove the glue so you can get tippet tied to your fly.

I have found the Abel nipper eye cleaner is very fragile. The tip tends to bend or break pretty quickly. This happened early on, and I have seen it happen on other Abel nippers. This is disappointing since the rest of the nipper is so durable. It makes me wonder why the eye cleaner breaks so easily.

Obviously, Abel would repair this for me. They have great customer service and they would happily take care of it. However, I don’t think this is an isolated incident. I think the way they are built allows the eye cleaner to snap really easily. I’m not convinced that getting it repaired would solve the problem, it would probably just break again.

Luckily, I have an eye cleaner on my fishing forceps, so it hasn’t been too much of an issue. I just wish Abel would acknowledge this problem – it is unacceptable to have such a flimsy piece on a really nice nipper.

The Spring

The spring mechanism still works great. After you cut your tippet, they open right up just like they’re supposed to. Abel makes all of their own parts in house, so I never had any doubt that the spring would keep on working.

If it ever fails, Abel will definitely warranty it – but I have a feeling that the spring could last a very long time.

The Abel Nipper Lanyard

Abel does make a lanyard that accompanies the nippers quite well. I did opt for it, and it has held up well. Some people just use a fly line lanyard for their nipper, and that can work.

I wanted the complete kit, and the Abel lanyard was a good choice. Strong paracord with aluminum parts makes me confident that it won’t fail on me.

The cost of the lanyard is $25, which is pretty reasonable considering it has aluminum components. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if Abel jacks the price on this too.

Conclusion

Overall, I have been very pleased with my Abel nippers. They are very reliable (minus the eye cleaner) and they have been with me for hundreds of days on the water.

The price was high back in 2016, and many people laughed at it and walked away. With the shocking sticker price here in 2022, I don’t think I would buy them again. $335 is just insane for a nipper. You can opt for the standard black finish, but that is still going to cost you $250. You can buy a decent fly reel for less than that!

The Abel nipper is becoming more and more of a cult collectors item. If I bought another pair today, I think I would be too nervous to even take them fishing with me.

However, for folks who have money to spend and want the best gear possible, the Abel nipper is the holy grail of nippers. That is just the way it is.