Aside from fly rods, fly reels, and fly patterns, I tend to get more questions about my hook hone than any other piece of gear I carry while guiding. To my surprise, most of the time I am asked what it is, opposed to how or when to use it. Fly fisherman love gadgets. There are only a limited number of hooks to hold gear on a lanyard, a hook hone has earned it’s place front and center on mine.
Why take the time to check a hook point? Well, to be completely honest, I find it absolutely silly to do every other part of the angling process correctly, to end up losing a fish because of a nicked hook. There are many times during a session on the water that flies catch bottom, catch sticks, or end up in a tree (admit it, despite our pride, we all catch trees). When an angler catches something that is not a fish, there is a chance that the hooks could have been nicked, or dulled. I routinely check hook points every time this happens to ensure that the point has not be nicked, or broken for that matter. I would rather address this issue immediately than loose the fish of the lifetime to realize it was due to a faulty hook (That is enough to make any grown man cry). I also take the time to sharpen a hook that may appear to have no issues. Have you ever been fishing and all of a sudden lost a couple of fish in a row for what seems like no reason? I know I have, and I cannot be completely sure that sharpening the hook point eliminates the problem, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.The “thumbnail test” is a helpful indication of whether or not your hook is sharp. Simple run the hook point across your thumbnail. If the hook point sticks it is good to go. Honing a hook can also help take off some of the rust that could accumulate on a fly that was put away wet. There is almost never a day on the water when I do not find a use for my hook hone, which is why I think it is a piece of gear that every angler should equip.
Honing a hook is very simple. Most hook hones have a groove that you place the hook point in and then push forward several times, making sure to sharpen the sides as well as the bottom. It’s quick, simple, and can make a big difference in conversion rates (the number of fish landed vs. fish hooked). Honing hooks is a way that an angler can catch more fish, without actually fishing better. Take advantage!
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