Home Fishing Tips & Advice Can You Fish With a Rusty Hook?

Can You Fish With a Rusty Hook?

If you’ve ever taken your old fishing bag out with you on a trip to the lake, then you’ve probably found yourself in a situation where rusty hooks are your only option. If you haven’t been in this situation yet, it’s probably best to avoid it as fishing with a rusty hook might not be the best idea. Yet, anglers everywhere continue to do so.

The short answer to the question, “can you fish with a rusty hook” is yes. If you’re out on the water with only rusty hooks available in your bag, then don’t waste the trip and give up. If at all possible, clean it first, or keep searching for an un-rusted hook. Do whatever it takes to avoid using the rusty hooks but if that’s your only option then fish with it at your own discretion.

Obviously fishing with a rusty hook is something you’ll want to avoid if you can, but what exactly does fishing with a rusty hook entail? Are there any issues that it could cause the fish? Will you be as successful with your rusty hook? Is it possible to clean the rusty hook and use it again? Knowing this information could save the day if you’re ever stuck in the water with a rusted hook.

Issues with Fishing with a Rusty Hook

One of the biggest issues anglers face when using an old hook is the stability. Many hooks tend to lose their strength when rust takes over and, as with all metals, are easier to break. You’ll find that your line might be weighted up to 30 lbs, but the fish keep getting away with your bait. This is all because the rusted hook keeps breaking off and the fish escape. You might find yourself tearing through rusty hooks depending on the size of the fish you’re going after.

Rusting can cause a duller point which leaves you with a useless hook. The rust slowly eats away at the metal leaving you with an eroded and dulled point. When fishing with a dull point, you’ll find that a fish can engulf your entire hook in its mouth and walk away without getting caught. You’ll end up losing so much bait when fishing with your dull hook that it’s just not worth it. Not all rusty hooks have begun to dull, so check the tip but don’t poke yourself. Rust leads to illnesses for humans.

You might also find that fish aren’t interested in your rusty hook. Many fish that are more undecided about whether or not to go for your bait might notice the rusty hook and turn away. The pull of a clean hook is the shimmer it offers when reflecting the sun. A rusted hook is simply a dull piece of metal that most fish will have no interest in. Fishing with a rusty hook is much more difficult and labored than with a fresh one, but it’s not impossible.

How to Fish with a Rusty Hook

Fishing with rusty hooks is possible but it requires much more care and ease when reeling in. You should treat it as if your line could snap at any second and do what it takes to bring in the fish without too much of a fight. The first step you can take is to give the fish some slack but coax it towards your boat. Make sure the hook you’re using is sharp enough to grab the fish in the first place before you cast out your line.

We recommend going for the smaller fish if you’re stuck with a rusty hook. Any larger fish will put up a fight that might be too much for your hook and you’ll be left losing the catch time and time again. If you go for the smaller fish, you’ll be dealing with a weaker struggle and won’t have to work so hard to avoid snapping the line in the process. Maybe your day with rusty hooks is simply a bait fish catching day. No large game will be caught with a rusty hook.

How to Clean a Rusty Hook

Sometimes, rust is simply a cosmetic issue. You could find that all of your hooks aren’t being eroded away quite yet, and that the rust is simply coating the surface. If this is the case, you might be able to have a normal fishing day after all, free from the threat of a snapping hook or a dulled tip. The process of cleaning should be done before you head out to start your fishing day, however, so check your bag before you go. Maybe you can avoid dealing with rusty hooks all together.

Find a citric acid at your local convenience store and mix it in a jar with water. The powder will dissolve and you’ll be left with an acidic liquid solution. Simply place your rusty hooks in this solution, leave it wrapped up overnight, and let them sit. Once you pull them out of the jar the next day, they should be clear and ready to go. The more acid solution you put in the jar, the stronger the solution will be and the better it will clear your hooks of rust.

How to Properly Dispose of Rusty Hooks

If all else fails, maybe it’s best to retire those hooks and toss them in the garbage. Before you toss them it pays to dispose of them properly. Using the cleaning method mentioned above, soaking them in the citric acid solution will help remove any rust. It won’t fix any deeper issues, but it will make them safer to dispose of. Your goal should always be to keep things cleaner than when you arrived.

Using some WD-40, you can spray them and that might help remove any excess rust on the exterior of the hook. Once the rusty hook is as clean as can be, you’ll need to wrap them up in a disposable bag and toss them into the proper waste removal containers. Rusty hooks are not nearly as useful as clean ones, but if you can’t find a use for them, be sure to dispose of them properly.

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Growing up on the south shore of Long Island, Chum Charlie has always had a passion for fishing. His favorite fish to catch is a striped bass and his favorite bait to use is bunker. Off the water, he enjoys blogging and sharing his favorite fishing tips & tricks that he has learned over the years.