The grip is generally considered safe for the fish as long as you don't lift the fish in the grip and jaw - and even then the fish seem to suffer little harm. Consider the tens of thousands of bass, which are presented by holding their jaw only (no grip needed, they have no teeth), and still seems to survive the US bass competitions.
No, I generally consider the grip a safe way to handle fish for both fish and angler. It has a good, strong hold and saves you fingers from the critter's teeth.
But you can of course also manage with your hands alone, as described here.
Whats the story with the vice grips in the poor pikes mouth ?
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