Hook Sharpening

I’ve been asked a lot of times about hook sharpening and the pros and cons of it.

As I don’t like spending money on numerous packs of hooks, I find it the best place to save and use the best of both options without taking it too far.

My kit

This may be confusing as you read but bear with me through my ramblings. There’s a fine line between using the same hook, again and again, continuing to sharpen it, and reaching that point where it could be the reason you lost the lump of your dreams.

I get my hooks from Spotted Fin and using a new hook every time I catch a fish goes against my way of thinking. This comes from me starting to fish in the 80s when ‘money was too tight the mention’! This is how I believe, The Combi Rig was developed, as you couldn’t afford to waste hook link materials. Back then, we’d join them together to save money and we discovered the catch rates were going up and the hook hold was amazing. Anyway, this is another discussion for another day.

I’ve been sharpening hooks for years to save on money and I don’t believe I’ve lost a carp by doing this. You can never be 100% sure how it happened unless you get a component part completely fail or the fish gets snagged up.

My approach is to touch up the hook every time I feel it’s needed, all be it after a fish, checking it after each cast. I religiously check my hooks, that’s all about confidence levels (mixed with a bit if OCD) or it could just be a routine I have gotten into over the years. Then comes a point where you should change to a new hook. For me, this depends on how much you have shaped it over time and more importantly how sharp you feel the hook is. This is a decision only you can make and the confidence you have in the hook brand and pattern you use.

I use Spotted Fin Turning Point Hooks on a Ronnie Rig, set up for all my fishing situations, and I can safely say, I have 100% confidence in these hooks. Mainly as they’re the original JRC 360 pattern, which was purchased from JRC when they stopped doing their Connection Range some years ago. They’re extremely durable in the first place, over time they will inevitably need a touch-up with a sharpener, but just go lightly and not go overboard.

I did a test some winters back, using the same hooks all winter long and just lightly touching them up. I had over 25 carp on them, with a few bream, and after multiple casts, I only changed them because I thought I’d better had. I was sure they would have come to a point when they could’ve cost me a fish. I didn’t want to go that far but doing this, gave me a lot of confidence in these hooks and my ability to sharpen them correctly. People often ask “how do you know they are sharp and not blunt?” That’s quite straightforward! If it sticks to your fingers with only a light pressure and holds it is fine, otherwise it blunt.

I like to use a pen
Close inspection
Only use sparingly
They break but still work
Get the angle correct
Take it slow with the heavy file
Needle shape

They are many brands of hook sharpening tools. I just happened upon Jag when they first came out and before that, I used a Swiss no6 pillar file, which is easily found on Amazon. It was the Jag hook holder that took my interest, I was using pliers before. The red and green files will break at some point – especially if you’re a bit heavy-handed, but they still can be used to great effect, just take your time, you can even sort out a bird over hook point.

I personally take more of the top off the hook and less off the sides. As my test goes to show, if you really want, you can get away with not changing your hooks for some time and still keep them needle sharp. They are still in perfect fish catch capacity. It’s really down to you and your own personal confidence in sharpening hooks, plus the trust you have in your hook pattern. I’ve proven to myself that changing hooks isn’t always required.


(1) Never go crazy with sharpening, take your time, only do what you need to do and the hook can be used multiple times.

(2) Never go overboard and grind them down, a light touch-up will do the job

(3) You know when they are sharp enough – they stick to your hands.

(4) Think about the angle before you start

(5) Take it nice a slow with the heavy files

I hope this helps you in your fishing and saves you a bit of cash.

Until my next ramblings

Be lucky






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About richardhandel

I would like to give a brief snap shot of my life and introduce myself; My name is Richard Handel and was born in 1965 in Suffolk. I have worked as a UK Operation & Intermodule Manager for a shipping company. I live in Hampshire now and am married with 2 young children, both girls so I am a bit outnumbered even the cat is a girl! I have been fishing since I was about 7 years old. I started on small local rivers in Suffolk, then moved onto gravel pits and then carp fishing. My personal best is a 39.08 mirror, over recent years I have started river fishing again, on the Hampshire Avon, this is a nice break from the carp lakes. My life has turned a big corner this year, the company I was working for relocated their Operation centre to Estonia. I was offered a job at the head office in London. This would have meant a 5 day commute and working in Stratford. As a family, we did not fancy this, as I would hardly spend any time with the children (and the Mrs). So after 22.5 years, I was given a nice redundancy package and with my wife is working full time. I became the house husband. This has meant a complete turn around in my fishing, as I can pick and choose when I go. I have found a splendid new syndicate to fish this year, which includes 5 lakes and some 8 miles of river with only 150 members. It's an amazing change to the way I am able to fish. I am now trying to start my own tackle business and make a bit of a name for myself in the world of fishing, as I have retired from real work. Richard
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