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This is of the uptmost importance when fishing for catfish ... you can catch fish with dull hooks or hooks fresh outta the package but I've not found any hooks of the right design for catfishing that are sharp enough right out of the box. This is why a lot of people miss good strikes because the hook just slips right out of their mouths. You may not think this very important but I can assure you if you use this method of sharpening your hooks it'll increase your hookups by better than 50% in most cases.
About the best hooks I've found for catfish are LO42 Eagle Claw or Eagle Claw Baitholder hooks and right out of the box they feel super sharp but they're actually not ... here's how you tell ... you take the hook and lightly drag the hook across your thumbnail or fingernail with the point facing the direction you're sliding it across the nail at about a 45 degree angle and if it slides then it's not sharp enough. Take a good hook file and touch up the hook lightly on three sides and try it again .. if the hook bites into the nail then you're ready to bait up and catch fish. Always, and I means ALWAYS use this proceedure after you reel in each time.
The reason you need to do this is because the catfish have super slipery mouths and unless the point of the hook hits a recess like the back of the lower or upper jaw or gets hung in the side of the mouth like a circle hook is supposed to then if it's not sharpened like I mentioned above the hook will slide right out of their mouths. To prove this to yourself take a hook out of the box or package and see how easily it slides against a catfish's skin and it won't poke into the fish unless there's some direct pressure pushing the point straight into the fish ... then try it again after sharpening the hook ... it'll immediatly bite into the skin with just very light pressure sliding it across the fish's skin at an angle. I've missed a lot of fish over the years by becoming complacent and not being as meticulous as I should be but when I'm watching everything and making sure everything is right I won't miss any fish at all hardly. I don't use a big hookset either ... when a fish takes off with my bait I am confident the point of the hook is already in the fish so all I have to do is pull hard enough to bury the barb and this is done by reeling the stretch out of my line and a gentle lifting of the rod. There are a lot of times a strong hookset will rip hooks out of fish that are barely hooked like in a whisker or lip so not having to set the hook hard saves me from missing a lot of fish and it will you too.
There's a video explaining this technique on my ebook/video cd also.I hope this helps you hook and catch more fish