NPDC Case Study: OUT Tool

On a fishing trip in Canada, Keith Lawrence purchased and used a coil spring fish-mouth spreader. The coil spring spreader was not effective for the various sizes and weights of fish he caught. After the trip, Keith decided to create a simple product that would accomplish this task more effectively.

Keith began to work through several designs and prototypes until arriving at a design he presented to the New Product Development Center with his application.

The NPDC processed Keith’s application through the IAS, a nonprofit, state-funded service that helps inventors navigate the invention process through education, information and referrals.

“The New Product Development Center is an outreach unit through Oklahoma State University that focuses on economic development,” said Robert Taylor, director of NPDC.  “The Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology, also called OCAST, provides the funding for us to assist clients in Oklahoma.”

Keith came to the NPDC with a working concept. The staff took his product and evaluated it in the areas of engineering and design, manufacturability, marketability, competition and patentability.

“I feel like I received valuable feedback and insight,” Keith said. “Even after the NPDC concluded their research, they pointed me toward resources to take this invention further.”

Keith’s patented product OUT Tool solves a common problem sport fishermen face after landing a fish. According to Keith, fishhook removal can be a risky task, especially with a toothy fish like Walleye, Pike, Muskie and many saltwater species. The OUT Tool features a faster, easier and safer way to remove a hook.

OUT Tool is a one-handed ambidextrous tool that can be locked with regular hand strength. It’s totally controlled by the fisherman, not the spring. The tool is designed to lock and hold.

“It’s like having an extra hand,” Keith said.

The OUT Tool literally puts precise control of the force exerted on a fish’s mouth structure and tissue in the hands of fishermen. This assures significantly less stress and injury to fish since holding a small fish’s mouth open requires less force than that required to hold a larger fish. Lessening the force/stress exerted on a fish’s mouth appeals to most fishermen, but especially to "catch & release" enthusiasts.

Unlocking the OUT Tool is just as easy as locking it. The size of the OUT Tool is small enough to be conveniently carried in a pocket, tackle box, belt holster or tethered to a fishing vest. The tool is also durable, lightweight and is manufactured from corrosion resistant plastics and metals.

According to a number of experienced fishermen, the OUT tool is exciting and brings something new to the category of fishing accessories. Fishermen that have used Keith’s product claim his tool to be ingenious. They assert his product to be the best tool they have seen for its intended purpose.

“The OUT Tool has been licensed to a company that is currently putting it into production,” Keith said. “It should be sold in stores in early 2017.”

The OUT Tool will be available at sporting goods retailers around the country.

To learn more about NPDC services, visit If you have any questions about the OUT Tool or would like to learn more about the product, email Keith at


Photos courtesy of Keith Lawrence

Slideshow Title: 
NPDC Case Study: OUT Tool
Slideshow Subtitle: 
Keith created a simple product that would efficiently assist fishermen in removing a hook from a fish.
Slideshow Image: 
OUT Tool