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Improve your carp rigs with this hook sharpening technique to get the sharpest hooks (with video)

Last updated: June 2014

Learning how to achieve the sharpest carp hooks has made the biggest impact on my carp fishing in the last 5 years and has considerably reduced hook pulls and increased pick up rates. At Beausoleil, I’ve only lost 3 carp in three years (not bad considering I’ve caught well in excess of 100 carp here).


In my experience, whatever brand of hook you get, it will not be sharp out of the packet. It will be fine for some waters like runs waters, but when you go to a heavily pressured lake, the fish are very used to getting rid of rigs and a straight out of the packet hook is not good enough. This is what has made the biggest impact on my carp fishing and each time I tie my bottom bait rig, I never fail to spend a couple of extra minutes sharpening my hooks.

How to get the sharpest carp hooks (video)

Hook sharpening kit and components

In order to properly inspect and sharpen your hooks, you are going to need some basic kit including a couple of hook sharpeners to achieve the best results.

  • Jeweller’s eye glass or loupe
  • A hook Clamp
  • A fine file
  • A hone

JAG Products supply a complete sharpening kit or you can shop around for these items individually. I get mine from Axminster tools:

► The Axminster slip stone is superb and will last for years. If you use it dry, it will clog up with very tiny metal fragments and you’ll notice black marks appear. This stops it cutting so well. Best to use it wet and leave it to sit in water for a few minutes before use. From time to time, I grind mine up to refresh the surface and keep it cutting well.

► I also recommend the Axminster hand file. This is one of the top brands of engineers’ files. I got the 100mm (4”) smooth one with a non cutting edge which is important. You’ll need to buy a small, simple wooden file handle too. It’s more agressive than the JAG file but it’s wider and needs less pressure. I actually prefer it to the JAG one and it will last for years.


Why should you sharpen your carp hooks?

hook sharpening kit jewellers eye glass loupe

Just because you take a brand new hook out of the packet does not mean it’s sharp. If you don’t believe me try this:

  • With a steady hand, move the eye glass to within about 20mm of the hook point
  • Move it in and out to gain focus and then move your eye position relative to the glass to within 30mm to get a really close view.
  • The hook point should appear in perfect focus; you’ll see that the point is actually rounded!
  • This radius may be small but it will make it easier for the fish to eject the rig or increase the risk of a hook pull.

How to sharpen your hooks:

hook sharpening kit hook clamp

Step 1 – Use a hook clamp to hold the hook securely in place. You can use other clamping devices too such as a tool maker’s clamp (your fingers or a pair of pliers won’t be up to the job!)

hook sharpening filing the hook point

Step 2 – Working in single strokes from right to left, use a very fine file to follow the contours of the point (be careful not to damage the hook link!). This should be done in a few gentle strokes. On inspection, the 4mm or so top side of the point should appear completely shiny and from the side, (as viewed with the jeweller’s glass), the hook point should appear razor sharp with some magnetised filing debris (don’t proceed to the next step until it is!).

hook sharpening filing the hook point from the side

Step 3 – Repeat the process (working in the same direction as before) for each side of the hook until the hook is razor sharp when viewed from directly above with the eyeglass (don’t proceed to the next step until it is!). Use your fingers or a cloth to wipe off excess filing debris.

hook sharpening kit hook hone

Step 4 – Now take your hone. It works better if you dip it in water prior and during use. Follow the same contours as you did with the file in the three planes (top, left and right side). Inspect with the eye glass after you have honed each face with a few strokes. You should achieve a point that at 20x magnification is so sharp that the point disappears to nothing!

Ultra sharp hook

Step 5 – To test the sharpness of the hook, gently place the hook point against the end of your finger and let go. The hook should be sharp enough to hang there all by itself with or without the weight of 2 x 20mm baits. Obviously it will do this with a blunt hook if you stab it in your finger but it takes the very finest of points to do this trick properly simply by resting the point against it. If the hook does not pass this test then it’s not sharp enough and you need to start again. Do not apply the nail test. I’ve tested this and although the hook passes the nail test 100%, the nail test actually very slightly damages the hook so that it no longer passes the finger hanging test.

hook sharpening tipping your hook point with vaseline

Step 6 – As this process removes any coating that was on the hook we need to protect the hook against corrosion while in the water. A sharp hook will be a blunt hook in a matter of hours without any anti corrosion protection. Simply smear a tiny amount of Vaseline on all sides of the point to protect it during fishing.

I hope this helps with your fishing.

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