Recently, I've been pondering the issue, "Will fish bite rusty hooks?" which I've been asking myself quite a bit. You may have already made the connection, but I'm inquiring about this because I've had a lot of fishing hooks rust this year. It seems I did not dry off my gear as thoroughly as I should have, and now I am suffering the price for it. Therefore, the first issue that needs to be answered is whether or not a fish will bite a rusty hook. If this is not the case, the next dilemma that arises is whether or not I should attempt to clean my rusty fishing hooks or whether I should toss them away.
There is not the slightest reason that I can think of why a fish would not bite a rusted hook, and the fact that they are biting any hook is sufficient evidence for me to come to this conclusion. Fish are not as intelligent as we often make them in our minds. In addition, the success of many fishing techniques, such as power fishing, is predicated on the fish engaging in a "response strike." This indicates that the fish is not giving the lure any consideration and is instead simply attacking it with its mouth.
If you are fishing with any kind of lure that moves quickly, there is a reasonable probability that the fish won't have time to notice if the hook is rusty or not. They won't care about the rusty hook; they'll bite it like any other. On the other side, if you're fishing something exceptionally slowly, I imagine the fish will have the opportunity to assess the situation and make their decisions accordingly. Do you think they will care very much about it? I highly doubt it, but I suppose everything is possible.
There are undoubtedly valid worries regarding the likelihood of fish biting rusted hooks. Shouldn't the primary concern be whether or not the hook's strength has been affected? Compared to its pristine state, rusted metal typically possesses a lower power. If the rust has penetrated the hook significantly, its strength may be reduced considerably. Most fish hooks, particularly the more diminutive models used on crankbaits and drop shots, aren't that sturdy, to begin with. The fish are in danger of being lost if there is anything that can weaken the structure any further.
A second thing to think about is whether or not the rust has made a point of the hook less sharp. On any given day, a relatively small number of fish will take the bait you put on your hook. Do you want the best chance of hooking them when one does, or do you not wish for that possibility? When experienced anglers spend so much time and effort polishing their hooks to achieve the optimum hookset, it makes very little sense to cast out gear that you do not have trust in.
I'm willing to wager that the word tetanus is currently running through your head at this very moment. When planning out the structure of this essay and doing research for it, I certainly was. It seems that being exposed to rust on its own does not in and of itself result in a tetanus infection. However, the germs responsible for tetanus could be living on your dirty and rusty hooks, and those hooks, along with nails, are the ideal delivery method for injecting that bacteria deep into your body when an improper cast is applied.
What Methods Can Be Used to Remove Rust from a Hook?
To remove the rust that has built up on fishing hooks, you will need to make use of an abrasive of some kind. You may get good results with something like a Dremel, a type of compact rotary tool, or you could use some sandpaper with a medium grit and a little block of wood. To eradicate the rust off your hooks, you will need to scrape and brush them.
You might try using an acidic substance if this doesn't work. You can get the rust to loosen up with apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. All of them share the cutting quality. Another method that I've seen advocated is simply soaking the hooks in vinegar for the night and then removing them the next day (source). I don't know about you, but I tend to avoid using commercial rust removers designed for DIY home repair jobs. Fish may enjoy their smell, but I can't say for sure.
In all honesty, unless you catch the rusting process so early that it can be readily wiped off using some of the methods provided, you should probably toss the hooks out and start again instead of trying to remove the rust using any of the methods described. It would be a waste of time to clean anything that might already be tainted because doing so would require significant effort. Consider it part of the expense of fishing and investing in some razor-sharp new hooks.
The concept of utilizing a fishing hook that has been structurally compromised is, to put it bluntly, a bit silly when one considers the amount of effort that we put into ensuring that our fishing gear is in pristine condition.
Although I'm not sure if I'd go as far as to say that any fishing hook is actually "rust-proof," there are definitely some businesses who have made efforts to make their products more "corrosion resistant." For instance, a significant number of the Mustad hooks on the market today are fabricated from stainless steel, which offers superior resistance to corrosion when compared to a variety of other metals. In a similar manner, several VMC coastal hooks are constructed to be resistant to rot as well.
The prevention of Rust on hooks caused by exposure to salt water
Your hooks, especially if they are exposed to salt water, will rust much more quickly as a result. Despite the fact that I don't do a lot of saltwater fishing, it became abundantly evident to me while I was conducting research for my piece on WD-40 that a lot of people use this substance to keep their gear in good condition.
This instructive film may be found on YouTube and offers some sound tips. In a nutshell, the author recommends that you immediately rinse your lures in freshwater and then dry them out thereafter. Additionally, it would be best if you prevented the accumulation of moisture.
Being pricked by any kind of fishing hook, much less one that has rusted over, is not a pleasant experience. Take into account anyone who might come into contact with your trash, and do everything in your power to keep anyone from getting hurt. A piece of sound advice would be to save all of your rusty old fish hooks in a single location until you have a sufficient number of them, at which point you should place them in an empty coffee can and dispose of them. It's possible that you may put them in an aluminum can and recycle the can itself, but before you do that, you should verify with the waste management centers in your area to be sure that doing so won't result in any complications.
If you want to dispose of fish hooks without using any kind of container, you still have a responsibility to make sure they are not harmed in any way. The most effective approach to accomplish this is to use some wire cutters to snip them in several places so that they are less likely to cause injury to anyone. This is especially critical with treble hooks, which "stand up" rather than lying flat like a single hook does and hence pose a greater risk of causing injury to bystanders. If you are already going to the trouble of chopping them up, you might as well remove the barb at the same time. It is imperative that you protect your eyes by donning safety glasses while performing this task, as the last thing you want is for a rusty hook point to fly into your look.
Despite our best efforts, each of us will, at some point or another, find that some of our fishing gear has rusted out on us. From what I can tell, a fish usually won't be frightened to take a rusty hook, but if the theme is so corroded, it might snap instantaneously if it gets snagged on something. You always have the option of trying to clean things up, so long as you notice the rusting in time (and you aren't competing in the event that requires you to look perfect). From a personal standpoint, I wouldn't bother. I'd chuck the rusty hooks away and then buy some new ones to replace them. You should really be replacing your hooks on a regular basis anyhow, but the fact that a few of them have rusted out can be the perfect excuse for you to do so.
Have a wonderful time fishing today.