If you are going to be spending time fishing or hunting for larger fish in the ocean, a trustworthy gaff needs to be close at hand. A gaff helps to protect fishermen and their equipment. It also makes it easier to land larger fish that might have busted a line, or broken a fishing pole while being hauled into the vessel.
At the same time, a fishing gaff that is no longer razor-sharp is next to useless. The last thing you need to worry about is whether or not your gaff is going to work when you need it most. This is going to make landing a fish more challenging than it should be.
Below we will run through the step-by-step process necessary for how to sharpen a fishing gaff. Let’s jump right in!
1. Clamp Your Gaff
The first thing you need to do is place the gaff into a vice or a clamp. This will lock it into place so that you can sharpen it with both hands free.
It’s important to orient the hook so that it is facing upwards. This will give you access to the entirety of the hook during the preparation phase.
Double check that the handle is locked into place. It should be tight, but not so much that it busts the handle. This will give you the confidence you need to sand it properly.
2. Sand Down the Gaff Hook
Before you actually sharpen your fishing gaff you need to remove any crud, burrs, or bent metal from the surface. You can start with a rough sanding stone, sharpening stone, or rough sanding block. You’ll want to grind away any of the surface material that might get in the way of your hook.
After grinding away the first layer of material, clean everything thorougly, and move to a finer level of sandpaper or sanding stone. Rubbing alcohol helps with this quick cleanup, as it evaporates and dissolves material that just won’t sand off. Rinse and repeat until you get your hook looking brand-new.
3. File Sharpen One Side of the Hook At a Time
Now that you have raw materials to work with, it’s time to reposition the hook so that everything is perpendicular to the work surface. This lets you work on one side of the hook at a time. Work slowly and methodically with files specifically designed for the type of metal that your gaff is made out of.
You’ll want to hold a 45° edge (or as close as possible), maintaining consistent pressure throughout the process. Start at the very tip of the hook and then work your way towards the shaft. Then carefully build up the edge on the single side of the hook while ignoring the opposite side (for now).
Applying the Finishing Touches
After you get down to the shaft you’ll want to clean the surface with rubbing alcohol once again. Double check that your angles are consistent, your edge has been built correctly, and then flip the gaff over. Now it’s time to go to work on the second edge!
Rinse and repeat the process until you have both sides of the hook sharpened to a knife like point. Now it’s time to move on to the next step.
4. Re-Sand the Gaff Hook to Remove Burrs
Using incredibly fine sandpaper, you’re going to want to work over the surface of the hook that you just created. The idea here is to remove any bumps, valleys, or burrs from the newly established edge. The metal is always going to be a little burred up after you have sharpened it. This knocks down those edges, helps to maintain a cleaner hook, and guarantees improved cutting and hooking performance.
You’ll want to rinse everything down with rubbing alcohol again, and double check that everything is smooth and consistent. If you have high or low spots, touch them up with either your file or your sanding/sharpening stone.
5. Attach Cork to Gaff Hook to Protect the Edge While in Storage
The final piece of the puzzle is to cork the edge of your hook. A lot of people skip this step, and then are shocked when their fishing gaff becomes dull again! If your hook is left unprotected (especially one this size) it’s going to bang around. This will cause dents, dings, and a dulling of your hook.
Slide a piece of cork along the hook to protect your edge, or wrap everything in scrap leather. The idea here is to keep the edge safe until it’s out on your boat and ready for use.
Frequently Asked Questions
How often do you need to sharpen a fishing gaff?
As a general rule, it’s not a bad idea to sharpen your fishing gaff every month or so (depending on use).
If you notice it getting dull faster than that you’ll want to do some touch up work or rebuild the edge completely.
Do you need files to sharpen a fishing gaff?
You don’t necessarily need files to sharpen your fishing gaff. You can sharpen a gaff with a sanding stone. Sanding stones are often used in construction or knife-sharpening. Some people even like to use grinding wheels. This method can be dangerous, so proceed with caution.
How important is it to cork your fishing gaff during storage?
Protecting the edge of your newly sharpened fishing gaff is hugely important. Cork it, cover it with leather, use pipe insulation – just make sure that you protect it when not in use!