Ever looked at a pack of hooks and seen the words “chemically sharpened”?
I know I have, and then proceeded to buy them because it sounds fancy as! But do you actually know what chemically sharpened means?
“Chemically sharpening” is the process where metal hooks are sharpened using an acid or chemical solution, rather than by mechanical means.
First, the hook is manufactured, as all are. Next it is put in the acid solution that attacks the surface of it. Being the thinnest part of the hook, the barb is affected heavily, subsequently creating that super sharp finish. But, at the same time, you have to remember that all the hook is affected by the chemical solution, meaning the metal quality is ever so slightly degraded. In comparison, regular mechanical sharpening of hooks is done in a similar manor as to how you would sharpen a knife. While this doesn’t deteriorate the quality of the rest of the hook as much as chemically sharpening does, it does leave small scratches, ruts and imperfections.
Chemically sharpening hooks often has the benefit of allowing for a smaller barb size. The acid solution doesn’t take away as much of the hook as mechanically sharpening does, meaning you have thinner, sharper points to hook fish. It’s also worth noting that a lot of chemically sharpened hooks come coated in an anti-corrosive agent, slowing down the rusting process!
As with anything, quality comes with a price tag, so I’d recommend using name-brand chemically sharpened hooks. Brands such as Gamakatsu and Mustard are well respected and take their chemical sharpening very seriously. So what have we learned?
Mechanically sharpened hooks = slightly stronger metal, blunter point and barbs, can be re-sharpened
Chemically sharpened hooks = sharper, rust resistant, not as strong, more likely to break under re-sharpening
So why not have a cruise down the hook aisle next time you’re in your local BCF and compare yourself. It’s worth asking the guys instore too, they know their stuff and are more often than not will be able to help you in your hook selection!
Written by Nick Biggs