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Sharpen Your Fishing Hooks

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October 04, 2011

Sharpen Your Fishing Hooks

By John Merwin

I was rummaging around in some tackle bags last night, looking for lures that I’ll use for a saltwater trip next week. There were some oldies but goodies-- ancient Kastmaster and Hopkins tins, for example-- that are great producers but need work. So it’s time to sharpen some hooks.

Hook sharpening is probably the single most neglected thing in all of fishing. It’s true that the latest generations of chemically sharpened hooks don’t need touching up, especially in smaller sizes, but older hooks do, along with larger trebles and the big hooks on larger streamer flies. The easiest way is to use the Donmar-style sharpener shown in the photo. (As far as I can tell, the company doesn’t have a website, but you can find the product at various online retail-tackle outlets.)

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, similar device. Just tape a couple of round files tightly together. 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. But the simple, two-file system is by far the fastest device I’ve found for bigger hooks.

So let’s hear what you do. Are you ever sharpening hooks, and with what? Or do you even bother?

Comments (7)

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from jakenbake wrote 2 years 28 weeks ago

I've thought about it, but I'm embarassed to say I don't really know how to go about it. I guess that's why they invented Youtube, though...

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from Kenc7971 wrote 2 years 28 weeks ago

I pay very close attention to hooks. I have a cheap file I got from Walmart years ago that works fairly well on single hooks, but rather than spending time sharpening, I usually just replace with new. Maybe if I had a neat, nifty file like this, I would enjoy it more!

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from Bernie wrote 2 years 28 weeks ago

I have a broken Washita stone in one tackle box, a small, groved pen-type hook-sharpener in another box, and an old Buck flat steel in another. Very important to keep sharp hooks. Sometimes even hooks on new lures are not terribly sharp--the trebles on Eppinger Dardevles come to mind, as well as some two-hooked salmon leaders I have used in the past.

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from santa wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

I was using a lathe before carbide and ceramics became the tools of the future and have a very good selection of honing stones to dress high speed tool steel. These same honing stones found their way into my fishing tackle back in the sixties. I just can not use even a new hook without dressing it just a little because force of habbit. My trusty old Snagless Sally spinner baits came with a hook so dull that it was almost useless without a little dressing with the stone. Now I will have to build myself a rig with the two round files because it looks easier to use.

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from Scott in Ohio wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

Another good tip John, thanks!

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from Proverbs wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

I have a specialized hook sharpener acquired from a local tackle shop in the early 1980s. It is grooved and has diamond dust in it. At the time it cost about $10, with other sharpeners in the $1-$2 range. Considering how tight my budget was back then, I chuckle from time to time that it must have been divine intervention that led to that purchase, which turned out to be a fantastic investment.

The name had "Diamond" in it, but the print wore off long ago. It works wonders very quickly.

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from the Preacher wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

EVEN CHEMICALLY SHARPENED HOOKS CATCH ROCKS AND METAL SNAGS THAT BREAK OFF THE FINE TIP!!! EVERY ANGLER SHOULD BE READY TO TOUCH UP THIER HOOKS! The hero of the new generation of fishermen, Jeremy Wade of River monsters always stresses this, and I think his viewers will have more success because of this one important concept.

All of the same principles in sharpening a straight razor are used for hooks.

Sharp hooks and tight knots

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from jakenbake wrote 2 years 28 weeks ago

I've thought about it, but I'm embarassed to say I don't really know how to go about it. I guess that's why they invented Youtube, though...

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Kenc7971 wrote 2 years 28 weeks ago

I pay very close attention to hooks. I have a cheap file I got from Walmart years ago that works fairly well on single hooks, but rather than spending time sharpening, I usually just replace with new. Maybe if I had a neat, nifty file like this, I would enjoy it more!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bernie wrote 2 years 28 weeks ago

I have a broken Washita stone in one tackle box, a small, groved pen-type hook-sharpener in another box, and an old Buck flat steel in another. Very important to keep sharp hooks. Sometimes even hooks on new lures are not terribly sharp--the trebles on Eppinger Dardevles come to mind, as well as some two-hooked salmon leaders I have used in the past.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from santa wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

I was using a lathe before carbide and ceramics became the tools of the future and have a very good selection of honing stones to dress high speed tool steel. These same honing stones found their way into my fishing tackle back in the sixties. I just can not use even a new hook without dressing it just a little because force of habbit. My trusty old Snagless Sally spinner baits came with a hook so dull that it was almost useless without a little dressing with the stone. Now I will have to build myself a rig with the two round files because it looks easier to use.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Scott in Ohio wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

Another good tip John, thanks!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Proverbs wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

I have a specialized hook sharpener acquired from a local tackle shop in the early 1980s. It is grooved and has diamond dust in it. At the time it cost about $10, with other sharpeners in the $1-$2 range. Considering how tight my budget was back then, I chuckle from time to time that it must have been divine intervention that led to that purchase, which turned out to be a fantastic investment.

The name had "Diamond" in it, but the print wore off long ago. It works wonders very quickly.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from the Preacher wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

EVEN CHEMICALLY SHARPENED HOOKS CATCH ROCKS AND METAL SNAGS THAT BREAK OFF THE FINE TIP!!! EVERY ANGLER SHOULD BE READY TO TOUCH UP THIER HOOKS! The hero of the new generation of fishermen, Jeremy Wade of River monsters always stresses this, and I think his viewers will have more success because of this one important concept.

All of the same principles in sharpening a straight razor are used for hooks.

Sharp hooks and tight knots

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

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