It looks like you all have mentioned all the things I've tried for pulling the slippery needle through when I quilt. My grip is not good due to basal joint arthritis so I first tried a pair of jewelry pliers. That worked really well but it takes twice as long to quilt. You have to take off your thimbles, pick up the pliers, pull the needle through, put the pliers down, put the thimbles back on.... and repeat. That extra motion takes way too much time.
Then I bought the needle puller thingy that goes on your finger. You put the needle end through the hole, push the plunger that grabs the needle, pull it through and repeat. Okay, that shortened the time for pulling the needle through because the puller thingy was right there, on your finger. Sometimes it would take a bit to put the needle into the hole. I'm old.... I have to strain my eyes to see that hole. So, I was still too impatient.
Then, I went to a QS that had ladies doing hand quilting on certain days. I sat down with them and watched, ask questions and told them of my 'pulling the needle through' problems. They have latex rubber finger tips that they roll onto their fingers and it works like one of those paper turning rubber tips but not as thick. Waa Laa..... now my problem is solved. I use my 'quilt condoms' (okay, that's what they look like and remind me of) and I don't have any problems pulling the needle through any more. A package of those was really cheap and if I poke a hole in one, I can just grab another from the package. I think there were a dozen or so in the package.
So, now you know my story. I keep condoms in my purse...... quilt condoms!!