Sunday Classic / Should You Be Sharpening Your Hooks More?

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Dr. Slick handheld diamond hook sharpener. Photo: Louis Cahill

Casting all day long, searching for that beast of a brown.

I’m giving it everything I’ve got. I know that’s what it’s going to take if I want a decent shot at landing a big mature brown trout. I’m looking for a 20 plus-incher and they never come easy. And where I live, you’re lucky to get a few opportunities at legitimate wild brown trout of this caliber all year long. We’re approaching a bend that’s known for holding butter slabs and I present a perfect cast right against the deep undercut bank. The retrieve begins, strip strip, pause…, strip strip, pause. Without any warning my six-inch articulated sculpin gets slammed and my fly rod just about comes out of my hands. It’s just been devoured by something very big, and I think it’s what I’ve been looking for. I set the hook hard and my rod bends as the fish breaks the surface thrashing violently, shades of butter are spotted. “It’s a brown!” I yell, but two strips and two head shakes later my fly pulls loose and the beast swims away. My prized catch is lost. I strip in my fly and check my hook point and its dull as hell. The hook point is bent over. If only I would have taken the time to check my hook point after I jabbed into that log downstream, fifteen minutes ago. I’m sure I would have noticed immediately the poor condition of the hook point. Too late now, my dream fish is gone and I end the day failing to hook into another big brown, despite doing everything in my power to make up for my prior mistake. Have you made this poor decision before? You now know I sure as hell have. Don’t follow my lead on this one folks.

It’s easy to overlook the little things when we’re out fly fishing. Unfortunately, it’s usually the little things that turn out to bite us in the ass, keeping us from finding success. Not only that, but the importance of these little things in our fly fishing are rarely brought up in conversation. When streamer fishing, it’s critical to regularly check and sharpen your hooks throughout the day. They don’t penetrate nearly as easy as our tiny nymphs and dry flies do. Keeping a hook sharpener handy is a must, especially when you’re planning on streamer fishing. All it takes to dull a hook is bumping the rocks on the bottom of the river a few times during your retrieve or sticking it in wood, and your sharp hook will quickly become dull. I’ve learned my lesson and I’ve got a brand new hook sharpener in my pack. Get the habit of touching up your streamer hooks every now and then, and you’ll always be fishing a sharp hook.

To sharpen a fly with a hand held hook sharpener correctly, start by placing the hook point on the sharpener at a slight angle and smoothly run it down the hook sharpener towards you four or five times, keeping a steady angle. It’s just like how you run your kitchen cutlery knifes through those hand held knife sharpeners. Let the sharpener do the work and hit the back and sides of your hook for best results. Check the sharpness and repeat until your hook is sufficiently sharp. You’ll notice the Dr. Slick hook sharpener I’m using in the photo has a pre-defined hook groove. This works nicely, but I often prefer to use non-grooved surface of the hook sharpener as well. Figure out what works best for you.

Keep it Reel,

Come fish with us in the Bahamas!

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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