We all know we should use fresh hooks or at the very least sharpen up the old ones, yet somehow, time after time we find ourselves digging around in the tacklebox and eventually settling on one that’s less than perfect. So, just how big a difference does it make? To find out I tried testing rusty hooks versus new ones fresh out of the package. The selection included five identical types and sizes, including two 5/0 circle hooks, two 7/0 stinger hooks, two 8/0 live bait hooks, two 10/0 spoon hooks, and two 3/0 Kahle hooks.
For a fish-simulating medium I took a whole raw chicken, and used the hooks to pierce the thick skin on the underside of the thighs. Each hook was tied to a leader and the other end was tied in a loop, then attached to a RoMech digital hand scale which reads down to 0.02 of a pound and has a rated accuracy of one percent. Every hook was pulled until the barb completely pierced the skin three different times, the amount of pressure needed to pierce the chicken’s skin was recorded, then I averaged the three together for a final score.
So, what did I learn? Across the board, the sharp hooks took less pressure to penetrate. No big surprise, there. Just how big a difference there was varied quite a bit, from almost half as much (1.18 pounds versus 2.06 pounds in the case of the spoon hook), to about 10 percent less (0.4 versus 0.45 pounds for the octopus hook). Any way you cut it the message is clear: use sharp hooks. There was, however, another unexpected and interesting lesson that came out of this fowl play: the diameter of the hook has a huge impact on how easily it does or does not punch through. When lined up by diameter from thinnest to thickest, there was a direct correlation in increasing pounds of pressure with only one outlier (the octopus hook). So, choosing the thinnest hook possible (without going so thin it may bend out, of course), is likely to be a smart move.