Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Now is the time to sharpen your hooks

The weedless Johnson spoon needs its hook honed every day
Everybody is itching for the ice to melt on the lakes and get out there fishing, at least as soon as the season opens. Now is a good time to do something that most anglers never get around to -- sharpening your hooks.
This is especially important on spoons for northern pike. Many of these have cast hooks which aren't sharp even right out of the box. How do you know if your hooks are dull? Well, one clue is when you get strikes but not hook-ups.
The thumbnail test
It is amazing the difference once you have put a fine point on the hooks.
If there is one gizmo that most fishermen don't have, it would be a hook sharpening stone or other honing system.
The simplest is just a small stone but you can also get diamond-surfaced rods, such as the one in the top photo, and even battery-operated systems.
The Johnson Silver Minnow, with a single cast hook, needs honing every day. Other lures, such as the Dardevle probably only need touching up once a week. Of course, if you hook a rock or something like that the hooks will need sharpened again.
Straight hooks are not so good
You know a hook is at its sharpest if its point can catch on your smooth thumbnail. Some, like the Johnson, may never quite get this sharp but treble hooks usually will.
Wire hooks, like those on jigs, are very sharp and stay that way longer than cast hooks.
Another trick to help you with hook-ups on fish when using spoons is to flare the trebles outwards. Did you ever notice how an older lure that has already caught lots of fish works better than a new one? Part of that may be due to the beat-up finish to the lure but another reason is that the hooks naturally get bent outward as you remove them from many fishs' mouths.
Just use needle-nosed pliers to flare the hooks outward a bit. A real handy device for many fishing applications that works here as well is the needle-nosed Vise Grip. You can clamp it on to the shaft of the treble and then use standard pliers to grasp the hook and bent it. Unless you want to have barbless hooks, be careful not to grasp the hook on the barb, because you will flatten it.
Flared hooks are better
I find that flattening the barbs is an excellent idea on plugs like Rapalas that have more than one set of trebles. Fish never seem to get away, even with the barbs pinched. But on lures with one set of trebles and especially on single hooks like a Johnson, you better leave the barb. Otherwise the fish can wriggle off.
Pinching the barbs on plugs not only makes these lures easier to remove from fish, but also from yourself.
Something like 90 per cent of the hooks that we have removed from anglers over the years at camp have been attached to one particular lure maker -- Rapala. These hooks are so needle-sharp and tiny that you can actually drive them through your skin just by picking them up roughly.
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