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| Introduction | Hook Perfection | Checking the Hook | Decisions |

Checking a hook point using your finger is a skill that must be learned.  Finger tips are very sensitive instruments but you will not be able to differentiate between a brand new hook point and a slightly rounded hook point the first time you check.  To build on this habit, check every new hook you buy.  New hooks should make you cringe when you push gently on the point.  Compare the new hooks to used hooks in your box - do this on and off the water.  You'll find that checking is easy when your hands are dry but more difficult when they are wet.  You may also find it convenient to check all three points on a treble hook at once using your thumb, middle, and ring finger. 

How to check a treble hook for damage

Specific things to look for are hook points that are bent, broken off, or slightly rounded at the tip (see drawing).  If a black nickel hook shows signs that the nickel coating around the tip of the hook is wearing off, that is a good indicator that the point of the hook may be dull.  The hook may still feel fairly sharp in this scenario, but by holding the hook up to the light and carefully inspecting it, you will often notice that the hook point, with wear around it, is slightly rounded.  A final thing to check for is a barb that has been bent forward, toward the tip of the hook.  If the barb is jutting out, it can make setting the hook difficult because you are trying to force a, now, much larger diameter hook through the fish's mouth.

Checking a hook step by step
Checking a hook, step 1

If you observe anything out of the ordinary with your hook, and feel unsure about whether it has been damaged, hold the hook point up to the sky or a back-lit area and inspect it visually.  If need be, compare the questionable hook to a brand new hook side by side.  Sometimes this is what it takes to understand the subtle differences between sharp and very sharp.  As a final check, run your finger from the bend of the hook toward the hook point checking for a bent-out point.  I know that when I started to get really serious about sharp hooks I was surprised to notice the subtle ways in which a hook can be damaged.  I still slip up and overlook a damaged hook from time to time, but I also catch a lot of bad hooks before they cause a problem.  You'll know you are getting in tune with your hooks when your fishing partner does something that might cause their hook to be damaged and you notice it but they don't.  It's all about forming habits and building awareness.  When a suspect hook has been identified, you have two options - sharpen the hook or replace it.

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Copyright © Robert Belloni 1997-2012. All Rights Reserved.
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