Here's how to sharpen your fish hooks the right way.
When was the last time you sharpened your fish hooks?
For most anglers, the answer to that question is either "I can't remember" or the probably more honest "never." It simply is not something that many of us think to do. At least not until we lose a big fish. Then we tell ourselves that we will sharpen all our hooks as soon as we get home and well... we forget. Other things come up and before you know it you are back out on the water with the same dull hooks. Let's change that and sharpen your fish hooks.
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The first thing that you want to do is test the sharpness of your hooks to determine whether or not they require sharpening. You will probably come to find that the hooks from older lures are very dull while newer hooks tend to maintain their sharpness for longer periods of time. Modern chemical sharpening processes have greatly improved the life of hook points. However, they will still need to be sharpened eventually.
To test your hooks, use caution and apply the point of the hook to the surface of your thumbnail. A sharp hook will stick to your nail with very little pressure whereas a dull hook will slide right off and offer very little resistance. There is no need to try and get the hook to leave a mark on your nail as some might suggest. With enough pressure, any hook is capable of that. The hook point testing method is much safer and is an overall better indicator of superior hook sharpness.
Once you have determined which hooks you are going to sharpen, it is time to gather your supplies. Although there are plenty of commercial hook sharpeners on the market, there is no reason to make an extra purchase if you don't already own one. A metal file or your knife sharpening stone are both perfectly capable of honing your hooks back to needle-point sharpness.
Once you have your tools and lures in one place, you are ready to start working on your hook points. Work the file up towards the point of the hook from the bottom near the barb and repeat that process around the entire circumference of the hook. Continue to repeat the thumbnail test periodically as you sharpen. Once that hook sticks into your nail without a lot of pressure, it's done. If you are using a knife sharpening stone, it will be easier to move the hook in the correct direction instead of the stone. Just make sure to work the hook in the correct direction. You want to be working from shank to point. This will ensure a sharp hook without a ton of effort.
This process can be a little trickier on treble hooks. However, it will just take some extra patience. If you need some extra motivation to get you through the process, just think of all the fish you have lost in the past. It is also great practice to improve your patience for the next time you are waiting for a bite on your next fishing trip.
One important thing to remember about the sharpening process is that you will be removing some of the protective finish that was originally on the hook. This can lead to rust developing faster than usual; especially if you are a saltwater angler. Just make it a habit to check your hooks a little more often and maintenance will be easy. A little protective oil never hurt a hook, and is a great idea especially for the lures that might hold a place of honor in your tackle box.
So now that you know the process behind sharpening hooks, and just how easy it really is, I encourage you to go get your tackle box and get started. I mean right now. Don't put it off a moment longer! It will only take an hour or two of your time and you will not regret it the next time a huge fish slams your lure and you are posing for a picture with another great catch.
How often do you sharpen your fish hooks? Let us know in the comments section below and be honest!
Photo via of Wikimedia