The idea that sharp hooks stick more fish is a no-brainer, yet I’m always shocked by how few anglers make hook sharpening part of their routine. If it seems like a chore, well, it’s not. Here are a few pointers that will give you an edge on the water.
Make the Swap
Modern chemically or surgically sharpened hooks have needlelike points and fine cutting edges like a broadhead. These hooks tend to be more expensive, as they’re also made of high-quality materials such as carbon steel. Because they’re so tough, it’s very hard to dull them in the first place. If they do lose their edge or point, a hook file will never restore the original sharpness; it’s more likely to chip the edges and make them worse. Just replace them.
Stainless and bronze hooks dull easily but sharpen well. In fact, you can often put a better point on these hooks than they’ll have out of the package. I make three quick passes with a hook file down each edge, moving from the bend toward the tip. After each round, check the tip for sharpness. The newer the hook, the fewer rounds it will take to achieve a good point. Should the tip curl over in the process, work the edge it’s curled toward a few extra times to smooth out the burr.
Many modern hooks feature a slick coating that reduces corrosion and helps them penetrate faster. Sharpening them usually removes that coating, making the tips susceptible to rusting. To stop corrosion, simply color the freshly sharpened tip with a permanent marker and let it dry. This trick will extend the life of your hooks.
Photograph by Travis Rathbone