All outdoorsmen know the importance of having a sharp edge. Whether you are skinning a critter, filleting a fish, shaving a branch for kindling, or sharpening a hook, sharp is important.
What most fishermen neglect is putting a sharp edge onto their hooks. Without a sharp point on the hook, penetration into a fish’s hard, cartilage mouth is limited. A sharp hook will catch 3 times more fish than dull hooks. ￼
Barbs are actually a good idea for hooking and unhooking a fish, or fisherman. The barb helps to create a bigger hole so that the hook can be removed easier. Ideally, you need to learn how to remove the hook using a pair of forceps or your fingers. Turning the hook, with your fingers or forceps, to the right angle will allow for a quick and damage free removal.
There is little data to support the need for Barbless hooks. What data there is limited to a few dozen fish. The best Barbless Hook survey involved 400 trout caught and released with and without Barbed/barless hooks. This survey took place at the Metiki Hatchery in western Maryland. Mortality was the same. What really made the difference was using forceps and proper hook removal skills in non-cloth nets. Education as to how to correctly remove hooks is essential. A sharp hook is easier to remove than a dull hook.
If a dull hook ends up in the fisherman, it is harder to remove than a sharp hook. If you do not believe this, use some old dull hooks and some sharp hooks shoved into a deer roast. You can also change up barbs/barbless. Use the string loop method to remove the hooks. Barbs make a larger hole to allow for the hook to slide out. You can also feel more/ different resistance even when using your fingers or forceps. The key is turning the barb and hook at the correct angle to take advantage of the larger hole. ￼
To sharpen a hook, try the pen style sharpener. It is coated in Diamond dust and has a groove. Hold the hook by the bend and sharpen the point away from you. The groove really helps to guide the point. Try to create a chisel point. The pen style cap is a good idea that does not work. Throw the cap away and tie a cord to the business end. Use a pin to attach to your vest or gear. If the sharpener is available, you will use it more.
Sharpen your hooks before you head out. If you get snagged on rocks or ice, sharpen the hooks again. Many lure and spinner hooks are dull even when new. If they will not scratch your thumbnail, they need an edge. Keep in mind that a sharpened hook point is also thinner and will bend or deform easily. An occasional tune up will always help you hook up!
Get the point?