Sharpening hooks [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Sharpening hooks


Dble Haul
07-20-2004, 08:50 PM
Let's talk about hook sharpening...

I dare say that one of the most neglected areas in flyfishing (and conventional fishing for that matter) is maintaining a sharp hook point. There are many ways to sharpen a hook, so let's share our own in the interest of spreading the knowledge.

First and foremost for me, I sharpen every hook before I even put it in the vise to tie (even the alleged "chemically sharpened" hooks). I'd much rather have a hook get accidentally damaged before I tie materials to it (very, very rare), plus I know that the hook will be sharp the first time that I fish the fly.

What invariably comes into debate is what method to use to sharpen the hook. I prefer to use a stone, triangulating the point. I have two such stones....one is on my tying desk, and the other is in my gear bag to resharpen dull hooks during the course of everyday fishing.

To test the sharpness of a hook, I gently push the point on one of my thumb nails. If it doesn't instantly get purchase and start to dig in, it needs sharpening.

So what say the rest of you? What tools/methods do you use to sharpen your hooks?

Smcdermott
07-20-2004, 09:53 PM
I think one of the important things to mention is to sharpen the hook toward the bend not away from it. Doing the latter will often cause a burr on the end of the hook that makes it feel sharp but infact will break off the first time you try to rip a lip with it. I do have to disagree with sharpening a good hook. Any of the gamis, tiemcos etc... usually come so sharp of the box that you would be hard pressed to get them any sharper and will usually end up dulling it.

Sean

flytyer
07-20-2004, 10:14 PM
I never sharpen the Daiichi hooks I use before tying. I check my hook point each time I hang up to see if it got damaged at all, and sharpen if it was.

I have been using a diamond dust fingernail file ever since I picked up my wife's and had the immediate thought that it would be a fine tool for hook sharpening. It must be about 20 years now that I've been using one. They are inexpensive, last several years, have both fine and very fine grit sides, and do a very fine job of quickly sharpening a hook. One of the best parts is replacements are as close as the nearest department store.

I also triangulate the point when I sharpen it.

flyjkol
07-20-2004, 10:22 PM
I like using those line stripper/electric hook sharpeners. When used correctly they can sharpen hooks very well, plus they can strip old backing in no time.

Dble Haul
07-20-2004, 10:29 PM
I think one of the important things to mention is to sharpen the hook toward the bend not away from it. Doing the latter will often cause a burr on the end of the hook that makes it feel sharp but infact will break off the first time you try to rip a lip with it. I do have to disagree with sharpening a good hook. Any of the gamis, tiemcos etc... usually come so sharp of the box that you would be hard pressed to get them any sharper and will usually end up dulling it.

Sean

That's a great point about sharpening towards the bend of the hook...I'm glad that you mentioned it. I do the same, but failed to mention it in my original post.

As for sharpening the premium hooks, I don't use gamis or tiemcos and have found that I can get those that I use sharper. I primarily use Orvis chemically sharpened hooks for most of my saltwater patterns, but your counterpoint (pardon the pun) makes sense. Perhaps if I can get my hooks sharper then they allegedly already are, then I should be shopping for a new brand of hooks.

Thanks for the feedback so far.

FishHawk
07-21-2004, 05:24 AM
Mark I believe that the Orvis hooks are made by Daiichi. I also don't sharpen chemical hooks but will use a stone on them if they get dull. Good thread. I have changed my hooks to Mustad Signature hooks this year and my catch rate has gone way up. Used the standard Mustads before I changed and missed a lot of fish due to dull hooks. FishHawk

juro
07-21-2004, 06:32 AM
IMHO...


good hooks come sharper than you can make them
diamond dust hones come in vest-sized and put a good edge on a pocket knife too, will not rust approx $10 at home depot made in Marlboro MA
grooved hones are useless, just get a diamond grit flat folding (red = medium grit)
I also use the triangular side/side technique when a hook needs retouching
premium alloys means thin strong hooks, big wire means big holes in lips and lost fish
good hooks are worth the extra money

Adrian
07-21-2004, 08:58 AM
"Not only before but during also!".

After a few trips through the suds in a pounding surf even the best of hooks is going to need some attention. I like to check every dozen or so casts, you never know when the best fish of the year is about to bounce off a dull hook point :wink:

Skilly
07-21-2004, 10:48 AM
I buy the best sharpest hooks I can buy and I dont sharpen my hooks on the river. I just tie a new one on.

When I get home I check the flies I used under my magnifier and sharpen them then.

Most I just through away. I have found that once you file through the outer surface the hook does not want to hold the point. The slightest thing will dull it.



Skilly

BigDave
07-21-2004, 11:17 AM
I buy the best hooks I can find. Been using the Daiichi X-points a lot this season and really like them. These obviously cannot be sharpened due to the shape of the point.

I find the Orvis chemically sharpened hooks are PLENTY sharp right out of the bag. They have such a fine point that I can't file it without making things worse. Could be operator error.

I have noticed that the points on these hooks tend to get "kinked" after a good fish. The very point of the hook gets bent to one side. This must be due to the fine diameter.

I have found that trying to staighten the point with a pair of flat jawed pliers works a lot better than the file..for one or 2 more fish anyway.... :D

Dble Haul
07-21-2004, 11:36 AM
I find the Orvis chemically sharpened hooks are PLENTY sharp right out of the bag. They have such a fine point that I can't file it without making things worse. Could be operator error.

Maybe I'm just too picky, but there have been too many times when a chemically sharpened Orvis hook hasn't passed my thumbnail test to my satisfaction. On those occasions, I have certainly been able to improve the hook.

This is a very worthwhile discussion we have going here, and it's opened my mind a bit. Not to be redundant, but perhaps I should start shopping around for another brand of hooks. And when I find another, I won't be sharpening them out of the bag/box.

Smcdermott
07-21-2004, 11:48 AM
Tiemco 811s for Stripers. Gami SC-15 for Albies/Bonito. These are the two best hooks on the market in my opion for price vs. performance (both will pass the fingernail test with flying colors). Although I have to admit I still use a fair number of 3407s and 34007s and when properly sharpened are still a good hook for stripers and dirt cheap.

sean

Adrian
07-21-2004, 12:24 PM
It seems there's a trade-off here .......I like the "out of the box" sharp quality hooks and use the 811s and SC15s which Sean mentions. I also have Daiichi's and Orvis plus non-premium brands like Mustad and EagleClaw. My problem is, all hooks get dull eventually. In my case that's fairly quickly due to the environments I enjoy fishing. :lildevl:

Maybe there's another question to ask which is: " which brand of hook sharpens up the best in the field?" Or are they all the same?

Smcdermott
07-21-2004, 12:38 PM
Maybe there's another question to ask which is: " which brand of hook sharpens up the best in the field?" Or are they all the same?

My vote there would be the old mustad 3407s. They take a real nice point and will rust out quickly of if you break off a fish. The downside is you need to sharpen them before tying since they are pretty dull out of the box and rinse them off after use. I have heard of them opening up on a few fish but really hasn't been an issue for me.

Sean

ashbourn
07-21-2004, 03:05 PM
I have never sharpened a hook and I never lose fish because of it. It does not take much of a point to set a hook. Plus if you debarb your hooks they go in even ezer.

Dble Haul
07-21-2004, 03:34 PM
I have never sharpened a hook and I never lose fish because of it.

Well, not that you know of.

I must say that I'm confused with your statement. If you lose a fish during the course of the fight, and it's not because of a snapped leader or other obvious cause, then how do you explain the fish getting unbuttoned? The hook had to come out somehow, and if it were set correctly the odds of it happening are greatly reduced.

Sharp hooks equal better hooksets, even if it only means an extra 10% of fish landed (although I'm sure the percentage is much higher than that).

And if you reply that you never lose fish, then your much better than all of us. :wink:

Smolt
07-21-2004, 09:32 PM
Hugh Faulkus, in his book (there may be more than one) takes the position that one should NOT use super sharp hooks. If I remember correctly, the gist of his argument is that a super sharp hook will grab the first thing it touches, usually thin skin over bone, for a less secure hook-up. In contrast, a less sharp hook (I think he says "dull" hook, but can't be sure) will slide along the mouth of a fish without catching skin over bone and imbed itself into the corner of the mouth for a solid hook-up. Sounds reasonable, but I still use hooks as sharp as I can get them.

Adrian
07-22-2004, 08:21 AM
Falkus was swinging wet-fly and greased line trebles and "irons" for Atlantics in Scotland. I have that same book and its a classic.

I still make sure my hooks are "sticky" sharp. Bigger fish tend to come with harder mouths.

jfbasser
07-22-2004, 09:26 AM
Have to disagree with Falkus. Catch rates on conventional (spinning) fresh water bass tackle are way up because of the use of exposed chemically sharpened hooks. Fish will pick up a slow fall lure with an exposed hook and literally swim off some distance before the angler knows he has a bite. These fish are usually caught because the sticky sharp hook slightly impales the fishes mouth so that the lure can't be spit. I am sure this happens with fish on the fly.

flyjkol
07-22-2004, 10:09 PM
Still, not all fish inhale a fly/bait like a bass. I can see for panfish and other small-mouthed "nibbler" fish why a slightly dull hook could be better. I don't think very many people would be willing to experiment with this, especially if the big one decides to drop in.

Until I see people with improved catch rates intentionally dulling hooks, I'll stick with as sharp as possible.

t_richerzhagen
07-23-2004, 08:37 PM
to sharpen hooks , at the bench, or in the field. I like a file for Mustad 3407 or 34007 at the bench, as there is a fair amount of metal to remove. In the field, I have used the diamond, ceramic by Tiemco, and a stone. Just use it till the hook sticks to the nail. The problem with a file in the field is that they tend to rust, though boeshield helps with that.

I do not initially sharpen Tiemco, Daiich, Alec jackson, or other quality hook. I do sharpen them in the field and check whenever I tick bottom or bump a rock.