by Eric Moynihan
Have you ever set your hook, ready to pull what could be the big one that legends are made of only to end up reeling in no story at all. One thing many anglers neglect is care for their fishing hooks and it may be costing them. Hook sharpening is probably the single most neglected best practice in all of fishing.
Repeated snagging catches havoc on hooks. If you fish brush piles, gravel beds, rock piles, log jams, bridge pilings, timber and boat docks you need to check your hooks for sharpness. Used and older hooks aren’t the only ones that should be checked. Although the latest generations of chemically sharpened hooks typically don’t need touching up, there are many instances where factory bought hooks can be dull right out the box.
It’s important to check your hooks sharpness, especially in situations where snags occur. To test your fishing hook’s sharpness, grab the shank of the hook in one hand and gently put the point on your thumbnail – don’t apply any force or pressure whatsoever. Now, try and move the hook across your thumbnail, if the point digs in then the hook is sharp.
A sharpening tool should be a regular part of your tackle box and an inexpensive sharpener, small hook file or sharpening stone works well.
You can rig your own sharpening device by using a diamond-dust nail file purchased from a drug store. Look carefully and you’ll see this is nothing more than a pair of round, chainsaw files held tightly together. Swipe a hook point along the groove where the files meet. Sharpening is very fast and easy.
It’s also easy to make you own filing device by using a couple of small, round files. Make sure the teeth on both files are pointing in the same direction. Or you can get fancy and cut shorter sections from the same files. Then mount one pair of ends in a wooden handle with epoxy. Tightly tape the other ends together, and you’ve made a device that’s smaller and easier to use.
There are lots of ways to sharpen hooks, of course. Small grooved “stones” impregnated with diamond dust works well, or you might even use an old-fashioned Arkansas stone for tiny dry-fly hooks.
Learn to cut a triangular point on a hook. Do this by sharpening the backside of the hook to flatten it. When sharpening, make all strokes downward (hook point facing away from the stroke direction). After the back is flat, rotate the hook and sharpen one side, then turn the hook and sharpen the other to make a triangular point, like a sharp pyramid.
Having needle-sharp hooks is a key to fishing success. Learn how to keep your hooks sharp, then test them frequently and touch them up as needed.
Additional Fishing Hook Maintenance
Good hook maintenance also entails tending to rusted hooks that can be saved if you have mild to moderate rust on your hook grab a can of WD-40 and coat them well and gently scrub them with metal wool.
When it comes to bent hooks, its best practice to just toss them rather than repeatedly bending them back in shape. This attempt at fixing a hook repeatedly puts strain on the material and can result in a break at the worst moment and possibly cause harm to the fish.
About Eric Moynihan
Eric Moynihan is an amatuer angler and EZ Angler staff contributor. Eric has been fishing all of his life and enjoys targeting every freshwater species he can. Born and raised in Massachusetts, Eric learned to fish at a very young age targeting both trout and bass, but enjoys targeting anything in the water. These days, you will probably find him in the local fishing holes targeting big bass in Florida. Feel free to reach Eric directly at firstname.lastname@example.org with any question or comments.