Sharpening Fish Hooks: An Easy To Follow Guide


Brand new fishing hooks are generally sharp right out of the box, so there’s basically no need to sharpen them. Over time though, fish hooks will lose their sharpness and become dull as they clash against gravel or rocks or any hard object underwater. Even the bones in the mouth of the fish can cause fish hooks to become dull. Anyhow, you’ll want to make sure that you use a sharp fishhook whenever you go on a fishing trip to make sure that you don’t lose the catch of a lifetime. But instead of constantly buying brand new hooks (regardless of how exciting that may sound), how about sharpening those fish hooks yourself?

Knowing how to sharpen fishhooks is an essential skill for any angler, and fortunately, it’s a skill that isn’t that difficult to learn. But before that, you should first learn know to determine whether your fish hook needs to be sharpened or not.

When Is It Time to Sharpen Your Fishing Hooks?

The rule of thumb is that you should sharpen your fishing hooks before you head out on a fishing trip. However, this may be quite tedious for some anglers, especially those who go fishing frequently. Thus, many anglers suggest doing the “fingernail test” to know when it’s time to sharpen their fishing hooks or not.

The test is rather simple. All you have to do is to scratch the tip of the fishing hook against your fingernail. If it leaves a deep mark on your fingernail, it means that the fishing hook is still sharp enough to be used for fishing and you can forego sharpening it for now. However, if the hook simply slides over your fingernail, then it’s time to bring out your sharpening tools and get to work.

What You Need

There are several sharpening kits designed specifically for sharpening different sizes of fish hooks available in the market nowadays. Although these can make sharpening your hooks easier, faster, and more convenient there really is no need to splurge on such kits. When it comes to sharpening your fishing hooks, you can use the same sharpening stone that you use to sharpen your knives. You can even use a file if that’s what you have at home. These simple household tools are more than sufficient to get the task done, provided of course you know how to use them properly. Many anglers actually bring a block of sharpening stone or a file on their tackle boxes when they head out to fish.

Sharpening Your Fish Hooks

To sharpen your fish hooks, simply move the hook along with the sharpening stone or the file starting from the base of the barb going to the tip. Make sure that you cover the entire barb and use the same angle with each pass. It shouldn’t take a lot of passes to get the hook sharp and don’t forget to do the fingernail test now and then to check for sharpness. If it fails the test, then simply repeat the whole process until you achieve the level of sharpness you desire.

Sharpening Treble Hooks with Lures


Compared to single hooks, sharpening a treble hook can be a bit awkward and more challenging. This is especially true when you have lures attached to it like most lures for pike or walleye baits. That said, you’ll want to begin the process by removing the hook from the lure and then proceed to sharpen each of the points using the same way that you would a single hook. Needless to say, given the number of points and separating the hook from the lure, the process will take more time than usual.

Fish Hook Coatings

Many fish hooks nowadays are manufactured with a form of a coating that is designed to keep them from developing rust. Whenever you sharpen your fish hooks, it is but normal that this protective coating will be removed as well. Of course, this will then leave your fish hook exposed and prone to rusting.

More often than not though, these reddish-brown spots merely affect the surface level of the metal and don’t really go deep into it. Sometimes, you can scratch these spots away with your fingernails. So you don’t really have to worry about changing your hooks when you see specks of rust on them. When the spots grow larger though, then that probably means that the corrosion is much worse.

So to keep your fish hooks from developing rust after sharpening them, you’ll want to put a little bit of oil on the point and the barb (and everywhere else that passed through the sharpening stone or file). When doing so, use a cotton bud or the tip of a rolled tissue. Never use your fingertips to apply the oil or you may pierce yourself. Also, don’t apply too much oil as this will leave a lot of mess once you put your fishhook back in the tackle box. It will also make your fish hook slippery and difficult to tie to the fishing line.

Over-sharpening Your Fish Hooks

Yes, it sometimes happens that anglers over-sharpen their fish hooks, thinking that the sharper it is, the better. However, this isn’t really recommended because doing so makes the point of the hook much softer, so much so that you can bend it over by pushing it with your fingers.

Over-sharpening a fishhook makes it lose its balance. That is, for a fish hook to be truly effective it needs to be thin (and sharp) enough to easily pierce the fish’ mouth but it should still be strong enough so that it doesn’t bend during the battle. This is especially true when you’re fishing for pikes or giant carps or any other large and strong fish species.

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Many anglers often do not realize how quickly their fishing hooks can become dull. Even if the fish hooks were only used several times, it can quickly lose its sharpness as it runs and bounces along gravel and rocks underwater, bangs against other items in your tackle box, or when it has hooked a significant number of fish. But instead of getting yourself a new set of fish hooks, you may simply want to learn how to sharpen fishing hooks. It’s really not that hard, and y sharpening fish hooks you’ll be able to save money which you can use to buy other fishing gear and equipment.

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!