Whether you are a saltwater fisherman or a freshwater angler, chances are good you have a lot of different tools for your hobby. However, there is one tool that a large number of anglers rarely keep handy when they want to keep hooks sharp, and many may not even own it.
This tool is a fish hook sharpener. Over time, hooks can become dull and may not catch fish as easily as they once did. Instead of replacing these hooks entirely, you can use a fish hook sharpener and hone the point of the hook to improve your catch rate by using sharp hooks each time.
In fact, a quick sharpening of your hooks while on the boat can mean the difference between landing a fish and losing it. A properly sharp hook tip also prevents tearing of the fish’s mouth, giving them a chance to heal quickly when released after being caught.
With so many different options for fish hook sharpeners on the market, it can be difficult to decide on the best hook sharpener for you. Let’s take a closer look at the five top-rated fishing hook sharpening tools and how they compare to each other.
The 5 Best Tools for Sharpening Fishing Hooks
Rapala has made this fishing hook sharpening tool to be small and compact yet extremely versatile and great for a wide variety of hooks.
It offers two different grits so you can keep hooks sharp and hone the tip of the hook to a needle-like point. If you’re looking for a small fishing hook sharpener you can put in your tackle box or a pocket, the Rapala SRHCF4 is a great option.
- Small size at just 4 inches long for easy transporting
- Offers two different grits on the double-sided file
- Made from durable and corrosion-resistant carbon steel
If you love using small hooks or do most of your fishing with delicate flies, Dr Slick offers a great fishing hook sharpener for you. This very small but easy-to-hold 4-inch long file features two different diamond grit options to give your small hooks the perfect point. The file is made from stainless steel and is great for use in saltwater conditions.
- Offers both a 300-diamond grit and 600-diamond grit option
- Tiny and compact size, measuring just 4 inches long
- Excellent option for flies and other small hooks
SAMSFX has created their diamond fishing hook sharpener with a variety of dull hooks in mind; whether you are focusing on small flies, lightweight single hooks, or heavier-duty treble hooks.
This fishing hook sharpener offers two grit densities so you can shape the tip of your hook to your liking and keep hooks sharp between usage. The compact size and rounded tip make this file perfect for carrying around in a pocket with the rest of your fishing gear too.
- Measures 4 inches with a comfortable dipped handle
- Has a double-sided file with 200 and 400-grit options
- Great for hooks of all sizes, including flies and trebles
This double-grit hook sharpener is great for small to medium-sized hooks. It’s a very useful and popular choice for fly anglers as it has two different grits and three channels in the file that can help shape even the smallest and most delicate hooks. With the dipped handle and attached lanyard, this hook sharpener is easy to hold even if your hands are wet.
- Rounded tip for placing in your pocket or gear bag
- Dipped handle that’s easy to hold with wet hands
- Includes an attached lanyard for hanging from the boat
Measuring just 4 inches long and a half inch wide, this small pocket-sized hook sharpener is the perfect size for small fly hooks. It offers three different sanding grooves so you can hone your hooks easily, even while the boat is moving.
Don’t underestimate the double grit on this hook sharpener either, as it can work for tiny and delicate hooks as well as larger and thicker gauge wire.
- Convenient lanyard for securing to a fishing vest or tackle box
- Two grit sizes and three ridges for small and delicate fly hooks
- Measures 4 inches long and just a half inch wide for easy storage
Things to Look For in a Fish Hook Sharpener
Hook sharpening tools can come in a wide range of different materials for both freshwater and saltwater applications. For the base of the hook sharpener itself, carbon steel or stainless steel is common. Both of these materials are resistant to rust and saltwater corrosion, which makes them great for keeping with your fishing tackle all season long.
When it comes to the different grit, some hook sharpeners will have standard grit in a variety of sizes, anywhere from 200 to 1000 grit, so you can choose the best size to keep your favorite hook extremely sharp.
You can also find higher-end hook sharpeners that make use of diamond grit and can hit a grit range that is larger than standard grit on the lower-end sharpener. This diamond grit range is normally reserved for extremely fine fly fishing hooks or extremely large hooks, such as those for tuna fishing, since even those hooks need a versatile sharpener.
A hook sharpener can have a variety of useful features in addition to just keeping your hook sharp. Almost all of them will have at least one honing channel. This is a small sharpening groove down the length of the fish hook sharpener tool that helps you shape the hook without having it slide off the file. You can find up to three channels of different sizes and shapes on some hook sharpeners.
Many fish hook sharpening files will have one end dipped in a rubber coating to help make holding onto them much easier and more comfortable when you are using it to keep a hook sharp. This rubber coating gives you an excellent grip on the hook sharpener even if your hands are wet, which makes it a very important feature to consider if you plan on using your file on the boat.
You can also find files that have small lanyards or other cords to help make storage of the fishing hook sharpener much easier. You can hang the fishing hook sharpening tool from your fishing vest, attach it to your tackle box handle, or hang it from someplace on the boat to keep it handy and secure. Having a lanyard or key ring is a small feature, but it can be extremely useful when you have it.
Hook sharpeners can be found in a variety of different grades, including coarse, medium, and fine. This term refers to the size of sanding grit on the file and will make a difference in which fish hooks can be sanded using that file.
For example, a hook sharpener with a coarse grade grit may not be suitable for very small and delicate fly fish hooks. A large grit hook sharpener used on these fishing hooks can be too aggressive and may lead to damaging the fishing hooks instead of sharpening them.
Additionally, an extremely fine grade of grit on a hook sharpener may not do much too large hooks with thicker gauge wire. Instead, you will want to get the basic shape, and initial point done with a coarser grade, then move into the fine side of the hook sharpener to polish it up.
The best hook sharpener will have at least two different grades, though some will have more than that. On the best fish hook sharpeners, you can find two standard grades on either side of the flat hook sharpener and additional finer grades in the grooves. This helps not only shape the hook into a precision point but also shape it into a traditional triangle angle.