Staying sharp: Five tips for fish hooks

August 9, 2010

Faith Outdoors

One of the things I am most meticulous about when I go fishing is having sharp hooks. It’s no fun feeling a bite, trying  to set the hook and then having the hook come back empty.

I always make sure that every time I tie on a hook, jig or lure, the hooks are as sharp as they can be. The best tool I have found for this is the Razor Edge hook sharpener. It’s made by a company in Ely and I bought one several years ago. They cost $25 and are worth every penny. It uses a clamp system to sharpen the hook on three sides with a stone that comes with the kit. This ensures precision sharpening that the user can duplicate consistently, hook after hook.

The down side is that the method used with the system is a bit time consuming. But, I have gotten used to this and it doesn’t bother me. I also have learned to find down times in which to do my sharpening. One prime opportunity is in the car driving up to a fishing trip. Another is in my living room while I’m watching TV. Still another is when I am up north staying in a cabin. During times when I am not fishing, or the night I arrive, I can sit down and take 10 or 20 minutes to sharpen the hooks I will use.

Once you experience the results of sharp hooks, I think you’ll agree that getting them sharp is worth the time spent. On the subject of hook sharpness, here are five tips that have worked for me:

1. Always test a hook before you use it and do not fish with a dull hook. I use the fingernail test. Place the point of the hook against your fingernail and move it across. If it digs in right away and sticks, it’s sharp. If it slides across, it’s dull.

2. If sharpening hooks does not appeal to you, buy ones that are sharp right out of the package, like Gamakatsu or Owner, which are my two favorites. I have used both of these for years and can’t remember a single instance in which I felt a bite, tried to set the hook and had the hook come out. I have extreme confidence in both of these brands.

3. Keep in mind that not every hook is sharp right out of the package. Many, in fact, are not and need to be sharpened before using. Therefore, owning a good sharpener like the Razor Edge is a must. And, buy a smaller one for your tackle box.

4. If you buy a hook that needs to be sharpened, always get a high quality brand. One of my favorites in this category is Mustad. I buy the company’s UltraPoint hook and have had great results with it. Once I sharpen these hooks, they are as good as anything I use.

5. When it comes to hooks, thinner is often better for penetration into a fish’s mouth. I like to buy thinner hooks, which I feel helps with getting a good hook set. For plastic worms, I like the Gamakatsu worm hook the best, partly because of its sharpness right out of the box and partly because of its thinness. I believe the thinness of the hook is part of the reason I get good hooksets every time with Gamakatsu. And, the hook has proved strong enough. I’ve never had a fish break or straighten this hook. If you lighten the drag on a big fish while you’re fighting it, you shouldn’t have to worry about the hook failing.

As we approach fall, when lots of big fish are caught, now’s the time to learn how to stay sharp.

About Dave Hrbacek

Staff photographer and writer for The Catholic Spirit. Also, avid outdoors enthusiast with a passion for hunting, fishing and photography. Married to Julie and have four children, three boys and a girl.

View all posts by Dave Hrbacek