Hook Sharpening

Hook sharpening: How to get ultra sharp hooks for your carp fishing

Hi, I’m Matt Collins, and I am the fishery owner of Beausoleil in France and what I want to show you today is how to sharpen your carp hooks to minimize hook pulls. Contrary to popular belief, no matter what brand of hook you choose, it will not be sharp out of the packet. It will be fine for some waters, runs waters, where the carp are happy to pickup anything, but when you go to a very busy lake with heavily pressured fish, very used to getting rid of rigs, a straight out of the packet hook is just not good enough.

Let’s have a look first at the kit I use to sharpen my hooks. The first piece of kit you need is a hook clamp, this one is made by JAG. You can also use a tool maker’s clamp, anything that will enable you to clamp the hook securely. Next up, you need a hook sharpener or a hook sharpening file. This is the JAG one,I actually prefer this one which I bought online, it’s a smooth Swiss toolmaking file, used a lot in the gun industry for fine work. It’s very smooth, much wider and easier to control. And it will last for a very long time. Next, you need a hone. This one is a thousand grip slip stone, again, it’s something used in the engineering industry. It’s very large, very easy to handle and will last a long time. I much prefer this stone to the one JAG supply because I don’t think theirs will last as long. Then you need a magnifying glass, or a loupe. This one is a 30x magnification loupe. You can buy it online. It’s a vital piece of kit for hook sharpening.

So, to start with, you take a finished rig already tied up as sharpening the hook is the last thing I do. You want to set the hook so that you’ve got 3 or 4mm of the point above the clamp. You want the eye of the hook well below the face of the clamp because you do not want to damage the braid when you are working. You also need enough so that you can clean off the point because the point collects small filings and debris from the process. You want to be able to clean that off easily to be able to see when you’ve got a pin point sharp hook. If hook sharpening is something that is new to you then what I suggest is that you start off with  inspecting the hook to see exactly how sharp or not a brand new out of the packet looks. This is a Korda size 4 wide gape X, I love these hooks, they’re brilliant, they’re very strong but out of the packet, they are not terribly sharp. It’s just the way it is.


But we’re going to change that with this process. So, by carefully moving the magnifying glass in and out away from the point, you should be able to achieve a perfect focus of the point of that hook, you should be able to see the grain of the metal of the point of the hook, and you’ll see that it is actually rounded on the end. Get yourself comfortably set up for this, I put the base of the clamp into my chest like that, rest my arm against my chest there as well, really secure and I take the file and start off at the top. I am only going to be working the first 4 or 5 mm off the point of the hook with gentle single strokes. Don’t worry if you slip up a little, you can’t do any damage,you’d only touch the top of the vice. This is a big point hook so you want to be following the contours. Now, after you’ve worked the top of the hook, you need to see whether you’ve done a good job or not. So, take the magnifying glass, inspect the point, and you should be able to see that you’ve followed the contours correctly, you’ve taken metal off, and the point is a lot sharper than it was. It’s not pin sharp yet, we cannot achieve that with a file, but it needs to be better than it was, otherwise you’re going to leave too much work for the hone to do.

Next step is we need to work on the two sides of the hook. I’ve got a smooth side on the edge of that file and that goes down on the vice. Again, there’s a slight curve on the contours of these points and you just want to follow that contour. Brush off the filings there. And again, back to the magnifying glass, I’m going to look directly down on those two sides to verify that we’ve done a good job. Again, it’s not perfect, there’s a few jagged edges there, but we’ve got a nice point and it’s ready to be taken on to the next stage. Now that we’ve got as good a point as a file will make, we can start to work with the stone. Now, I’ve had this stone soaking in water for the last 5 minutes, this lubricates it when it’s working and stops it clogging up the surface. Again, working towards the point, following the curve of the original hook geometry. Nice, gentle, smooth strokes like that. Again, check your hook, it’s now looking exceptionally sharp. We can now work on the sides of the hook. Re-inspect the hook from the top, from the sides, and that is as sharp as you can humanly make it. It is phenomenally sharp. I’ll show you the difference with a little test you can do.

This is a freshly tied rig, brand new hook but I haven’t sharpened it. If I just rest the point of the hook on the tip of my finger and I rotate round, it’s dropped off. I hardly got any distance at all on that. Let’s do the exact same test with a hook I’ve just sharpened. I am not stabbing this in, I am simply resting it on the tip of my finger. I am rotating that round and that is physically hanging upside down on absolutely nothing. That will get you a hook hold when every other hook in the world has been blown out. That is what a sharp hook should be able to do. Before we can fish with this hook, there’s one last thing to do. We have taken the coating off the point of that hook. And if we put it in the water, in a fishing situation, within a number of hours, the point of the hook will start to become blunt. So, take a tube of vaseline, and just dip the point of the hook in it and it acts as a rust preventative. So, do have a go, you don’t need to spend much money on the kit, you can source the components easily or buy the branded kit. Have a go, it will transform your angling. It’s not a gimmick, it’s the biggest edge there is out there to reduce hook pulls.

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