View Full Version : Sharpening Hooks

08-29-2010, 10:39 AM
Well I read an article yesterday about sharpening your hooks at the tying bench and it basically stated that increased penetrability will allow you to hook and keep hooked more fish. Now this made sense to me, cos if the hooks were sharper then it may convert some of those hits that get off and those fish that are on the line that shake off early in the fight. Even increasing the rate a bit sounds worthwhile. BUT, and there is always a but... Most hooks these days come chemically sharpened and I have also heard that if you take a sharpener to them you will remove the coating which can accelerate the rusting of the hook and the life of the fly. So I pose this:

To sharpen or not to sharpen? That is the question...

08-29-2010, 10:49 AM
I'm not sure about the right answer. I don't sharpen at the vise. After the first drag across anything (rock, bottom, etc) the guys taught me to do the fingernail test. Drag the hook point over a thumbnail. If if grabs it's OK. If it slides over the nail then I sharpen it.

08-29-2010, 10:58 AM
Realistically, does a fly last that long? Most of my flies get beat up fairly quickly when the fish are hot-- And I'm not one to strip materials off of a hook to re-tie another fly... While they are typically the most expensive part of a fly, the hooks are still relatively cheap. I toss 'em out (if I don't lose them to cover and rocks before their prime...)and tie with new ones. (Chemically sharpened are sharp enough and I don't use a fly long enough to notice any appreciable 'dulling' of the hook.)

I find limited time to sharpen chainsaw chains--- not gonna' waste my time (IMO- it is a waste of time-- no offense to those who do sharpen hooks...) with sharpening a .10-.12 cent hook.....

08-29-2010, 11:06 AM
I carry a Dr. Slick hook sharpener. If the hook isn't sharp, I don't tie with it. Like Jimmie, I check my hooks after bumps and catches. Sometimes the hook
takes a new point nicely, and other times my best efforts don't get the point nearly as sharp as I'd like. I toss out the hooks that refuse to take a new point. Loosing the fish of a lifetime to a less than razor sharp hook isn't worth the 10-25 cents per hook, and the few minutes it takes to tie a fly. ;)

As far as rust, I've never kept a fly long enough after sharpening the hook to notice any. I view flies and tippet the same way: when in doubt, toss it out.

Rip Tide
08-29-2010, 11:16 AM
I always check my hooks to see if they need to be touched up before tying.
I got into the habit because (non-chemically sharpened) saltwater hooks always need sharpening.
For small hooks I use an emery board and I have a small stone for medium sized hooks and I carry a sharpening stone zipper-pull on my vest
For saltwater hooks I use a Dremel tool at the bench and a ******* file on the water.

I guess the filter doesn't allow the word "bass-turd" :p

Frank Whiton
08-29-2010, 04:41 PM
Hi twfitw,

If you use top quality fresh water hooks that are chemical sharpened I don't think you need to sharpen them at the bench. One of the problems with small hooks is we don't know how to sharpen them and end up making them dull instead of sharp. On the stream you should carry something to sharpen your hooks as they get beat up on rocks. I have used an EZE-LAP sharpener for years for fresh water hooks.

Saltwater hooks almost always need to be sharpened at the bench. At least that use to be the norm.


EZE-LAP Hook Sharpener
http://lh4.googleusercontent.com/9PzR_veZye18iV7MiBxA-XCx0QGd9VRclgz7KETc9VJDcStHBPY82LGVN_tESQ1N9vbXDCd DhCNoQS6MeiUZSxVkUqdFwX2-uI6qeizlLjmHHrzLvqZp9UaOK4oD5Bh2mZ831QYqrc996ADJMI NKy6Qo5b4pje-LmqGbnxvOMMWS5_ZX-tBiRyy33-5h

08-29-2010, 07:23 PM
OK, that makes sense... I am going to need to get a sharpener for my vest, although I fish mainly still water so not too much rock-clattering, but I do intend to explore more creeks in the province... I am now thinking about sharpening the larger flies at the bench, especially the pike flies given that they have tougher jaws which need penetrating...

08-30-2010, 10:39 AM
In most cases, I do not sharpen my hooks. It is easier to grab a new fly. Plus most of the hooks that I tie are on chemically sharpened hooks.

A few years back, my boat partner tied up two dozen flies for a Tarpon trip. She filed her new Trey Combes hooks at the vise. During the trip, she could not get a hookset. Once she switched over to my flies which were the same patterns as hers, she started hooking up.

Back to the original question. To sharpen or not to sharpen? For new flies, leave them alone. If you have the time to sharpen a used dull hook, go ahead.


08-30-2010, 12:49 PM
I've never really given much thought to sharpening flies. I've done it on lures but flies I usually just toss or I end up losing them before they need to be sharpened.

09-01-2010, 03:08 PM
I do the thumbnail test. If it don't grab I sharpen.
I also use the 'lost fish' test. If I start to miss a number of strikes or the fish spit the hook out...I check for sharpness.
Works for me.:thumbsupu

09-01-2010, 03:14 PM
I'm do what Frank B2 does and carry a Dr. Slick. All my hooks are pretty big and have the harpoon point. After hitting a rock on bottom during a swing I take a look to be sure it didn't flatten the point. If I have a couple fish come loose I take a look then also. I don't use the tool often but I have one.


09-01-2010, 05:47 PM
Like Rip, I sharpen all saltwater hooks out of the box-- except for the premium chemically sharpened hooks like Owner Aki etc.

I mostly use Mustad 3407DT, 34007, 34011 and Eagle Claw 254 mostly in sizes 4 to 3/0 with larger hooks up to 6/0 once in awhile.

For hooks that large I use a Luhr Jensen hook file with a yellow plastic handle (about $7-8.00). It puts an edge on quickly. I have a couple-- one stays at the bench to sharpen flies before tying, the other comes with me when i fish to resharpen points that might have been rolled on rocks etc. This might be a good choice for you for pike sized hooks. You can often find them in bait and tackle shops as well as some fly shops.


I also carry a file similar to Frank's in my vest for freshwater fishing for sharpening trout sized hooks in the event they get dinged up on the stream.

09-02-2010, 04:14 PM
I do the thumbnail test. If it don't grab I sharpen.
I also use the 'lost fish' test. If I start to miss a number of strikes or the fish spit the hook out...I check for sharpness.
Works for me.:thumbsupu

But you have to sharpen same ... how? Personally, I use a (very) small flat 'bast ard file' and do a chisel point (aka >). In that shape (vs roundish) the Bloody thing cuts in like a knife point. Touch? And I've got you.


09-02-2010, 07:15 PM
I carry a small stone with my Fly fishing kit. A small file would probably work better, but I have been using this stone for so long I just haven't looked for one.