Making sure your fishing hooks are razor sharp is absolutely essential. By the time you realize that you got a bite the fish the hook point has usually either driven home or been spat out. When fish a feeding cautiously (the way that most trophy fish do) you cannot rely on the fish to hook themselves with vigor. A sharp hook is essential.
Once a fisherman realizes that they absolutely need the sharpest hooks possible they start shelling out $1-$2 per hook on high end hooks. These same fisherman are probably also tying their own rigs. However, if you are spending that much money and time on each rig you are loathed to throw them away when they become dulled. So you either have to perpetually shell out money to replace expensive dull hooks with expensive sharp hooks or you have to learn how to sharpen a hook.
How Often Do You Need To Sharpen Hook?
I don’t mean to sound cheeky, but….You only have to sharpen your hooks when they are dull. High quality hooks will stay sharp for a very long time if they never contact something hard. I have high-end carp hooks that have landed dozens of fish and are still razor sharp, the same hooks can hit their points on a rock or dig their tips into the mouth plate of a catfish and they become dulled minutes out of the box.
So the question is not “How often should I sharpen my hooks”, the question is “How can I tell if I need to sharpen my hooks?” through experience you can generally gauge sharpness by pricking the palm of your hand with the point of a hook but I find a jeweler’s eye much more helpful.
You can buy a $10 30x jeweler’s eye offline without much fuss. The are small and fit in your tackle box. With the aid of the jeweler’s eye you can visually inspect the point of small hooks (sizes #10 and smaller). If the point has been bent or dulled you can see it and then you can again inspect it after sharpening to see if you did the job right. Visual inspection is the surest way to inspect a hook’s sharpness.
What Is The Best Hook Sharpener?
The hook sharpeners they sell in tackle shops are generally not fine enough for anyone who is this concerned about hook sharpness. They work ok on very large hooks where a needle point is not as necessary, but are not great for small hooks.
Here are the tools I recommend:
- A cheapo fly tying vice
- A 30x jeweler’s eye
- A fine grit wet stone
- 1000 grit wet/dry sandpaper
- 2000 grit wet dry sandpaper
- 3000 grit wet dry sandpaper (or a strap of tooling leather)
- A pair of needle nose pliers.
How to Sharpen a Hook?
Start by finding out what is wrong with the point and planing what metal to shave away. Typically this involves altering the angle of the hook point and creating a finer point than what was originally provided by the manufacture.
Hold the hook in the needle nose pliers and lay the part of the hook between the point and the bend flat on the wet stone. Grind the hook with small circle motions. Continuously tilt the hook so that you are grind the hook at different angles not just one. Use the jeweler’s eye to gauge your progress.
Once you have shaved off the metal you wanted, polish the altered metal with the sand paper. Start with the 1000 grit using the same circular motions and tilting. Then repeat wit the 2000 grit paper.
Next, pull out the tooling leather or the 3000 grit paper. Instead of using the circular motions repeatedly draw the hook backwards across the paper, bend first. Tilt the hook as you do this. This should be actually focusing mostly on the point.
Check your progress with the jeweler’s eye and touch up and spots you missed with some sand paper while having the hook in the vice. Your good to go.
If you want to do this in the field, the pliers, the jeweler’s eye and the sand paper by themselves can get the job done in a pinch.
Check out our Youtube video demonstrating how to sharpen a fishing hook.