How To Sharpen Fishing Hooks

01
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Why You Should Sharpen Hooks

Use a file or a battery powered tool to sharpen hooks
Use a file or a battery powered tool to sharpen hooks. 2008 Ronnie Garrison licensed to About.com

A decade or so ago hooks were not ultra sharp when new. Today, newer technology produces hooks that are so sharp out of the box that their points immediately catch on nearly anything. They are almost like needles. Super-sharp hooks do not need to be sharpened more. However, once new hooks become a little dull after use, their points need to be re-honed. Many fish have been lost by anglers using dull hooks. Keep your hooks sharp to land more fish.

The hook shown in the accompanying photos is a large-gap hook that might be used with a plastic worm or a soft jerk bait. Such a hook has to be razor-sharp to penetrate rapidly through the plastic lure and also to embed in the fish's mouth. The instructions that follow are the same for single or treble hooks, the latter being common on most plugs. The same steps have to be followed to sharpen each point of a treble hook.

02
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Use a File or Battery-Powered Stone

Use a file or a battery powered tool to sharpen hooks
Use a file or a battery powered tool to sharpen hooks. 2008 Ronnie Garrison licensed to About.com

I keep a small triangle-shaped file in my boat to sharpen hooks. The picture shows a big flat file to make it easier to see. I think that a file is the best way to sharpen a dull hook.

There are many kinds of battery-powered hook-sharpening devices available. I keep a small, inexpensive one in my boat for touching up the point of a hook. The one shown uses a single AA battery and spins a small cone-shaped stone that is protected by the point cover. You can use it to quickly touch up the point of a hook that has become dulled while fishing.

03
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File the Point of the Hook Flat on the Outside

Steps In Sharpening A Hook - Step One - Start By Filing The Back Of The Point Flat
Start by filing the back of the point flat. 2008 Ronnie Garrison, licensed to About.com

To sharpen a hook you want to make a triangle-shaped point so it will cut into the fish's jaw. Start by filing the back, or outside, of the point flat.

04
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File One Side at a 45-Degree Angle

File toward the inside of the hook at a 45 degree angle to the flat back
File one side of the inside of the hook point at a 45-degree angle to the flat back. 2008 Ronnie Garrison licensed to About.com

To make a triangle point, file one side of the inside of the hook point at a 45-degree angle to the flat back. This is the start of the cutting side of the point.

05
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File the Other Side at a 45-Degree Angle

File the other side of the hook at a 45 degree angle to the flat back, forming a triangle point
File the other side of the point at a 45-degree angle to the flat back. 2008 Ronnie Garrison licensed to About.com

File the other side of the hook point at the same angle as the last one to form a triangled cutting point. You can put the hook in a fly-tying vise if you're doing this at home, but in the field, you'll hold it carefully in your hand. Smaller hooks are harder to hold and sharpen.

06
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Touch-Up a Point to Make It Needle Sharp

Files and battery powered stones are best but you can touch up a point with a fingernail file
Files and battery powered stones are best for sharpening hooks, but you can touch up a point with an emery board or fingernail file on clippers. 2008 Ronnie Garrison licensed to About.com

On the water, you often need to touch-up the point of the hook to make it needle sharp. It is quicker and cheaper to touch it up than to tie on a new hook. A file or stone is best but, in a pinch, you can use a nail clipper file or emery board. Work around the point to take off burrs and sharpen it up. You often need to do this when you've been fishing around rocks.

Test hook sharpness by dragging the point lightly across your thumbnail. If the hook slides it isn't sharp enough. If it catches with very light pressure or scratches your nail when you slide it with very little pressure, it's ready to use.

This article was edited and revised by our Freshwater Fishing expert, Ken Schultz.