Let's Stay Sharp Out There!

There are many things we need in our fishing boat and that we check on a regular basis.  Fuel, oil, hooks, food and drinks, are just a few of the things we check on each and every outing.  There is something that we do tend to neglect however, some of us anyways, and that's the cutlery that we have either hanging on our belts or stuck in the gunwale somewhere.

Fishing, as with hunting, requires a cutting instrument with a sharp edge to make things safe for us more clumsy type folk.  There's nothing worse than cutting open a big ass moose and having to struggle with your knife to get the danged thing opened up, only to have that same knife skewer your hand instead because it was so dull it couldn't cut anything!  Fishing, same thing, a simple thing such as snipping some line off can be a major chore for some, once they put their rusty and dull knife into work.  Pretty sad to see a grown man whining when he's in the process of trying to cut some 6lb test line with his jack knife that isn't really suited for anything other than a paper weight! 

These days there is of course a multitude of sharpeners on the market, and it's confusing, and expensive, to keep trying stuff and then winding up with the same dull knife as you had to start with.  Sure, you can buy one of them fancy electric job's but I don't know of many that plug into your 12V socket on the boat and if they did, I'm thinking they wouldn't do as well as the ones in your house.  The most common knife found on the anglers boat is the good old filleting knife, be it a small 6"er or the bigger 12"er, and with the fine blade that is on most of them, it doesn't take more than a couple of swipes on a GOOD sharpener and its in great shape.  Over the years I've been one of those "testers" of sharpeners and spent alot of money on them, 80% of them were junk while the remainder fell into the "good to great" category.

#1 in the picture to the left is something that was introduced to me back in the 80's by someone in Kelowna!  For those old timers that remember Harv's down on Pandosy, it was Al Harvie that showed me this device.  I used to stop in quite often when working at Kelowna Det. and have coffee with Al. one day he pulled out these ceramic sticks that were held in a wooden base, took out his pocket knife and dulled it on a chunk of metal! He then gave it a couple of swipes on "the sticks" and proceeded to shave off the hair on his arm!!!!!  I was impressed and he of course, had another sale.  Great device, just keep the sticks cleaned of metal residue by washing them.

#2, the fast and expensive EZ Lap knife hone.  A plastic handle with a chunk of diamond hone tape on it.  Works like a hot damn when new but wears out very fast and at $8-10 a pop, not a very good investment, but I keep buying the damned things!

#3, I've had this tried and true good old wet stone for 100 years......OK maybe 30.  Put some water or spit on it, and away you go.  It also has a groove in it that sharpens hooks up in a flash, even those old rusted ones.  I also have a round whetstone that was my Granpa's and it probably is 100 years old, and his jack knives were always razor sharp.

#4, another version of a diamond hone, this time in a stick, works OK but needs constant cleaning, has a hook groove but its so small the hook keeps coming out and impales you somewhere on your hand!  Nice and compact though, and not to pricey, better than the EZ Lap.

#5, Piece of junk, kind of a cross between a regular file and a diamond hone, its so coarse that it doesn't "cut" anything when your trying to sharpen your knife, I only keep it around to give it to those I don't like to sharpen their knives, just so I can have a chuckle.  Is that wrong????

#6, believe it or not this piece of junk works real well!  It was actually taken out of a Wilkinson knife holder, one of those that has the built in knife sharpener.  All it is is a couple of pieces of carbide put in the shape of a "V" in the holder and you run your knife over it. It'll actually peel the steel right off your knife!  There are alot of these kinds on the market, but of course with a fancier handle and they do work well, especially for sharpening up knife that is in really tough shape.

#7, one of my more recent purchases, I'm actually quite impressed with it.  It is a diamond hone blade but because it has a much bigger surface area it sharpens up a knife really fast, especially the filleting variety.  It too "folds up", with the blade coming off and then tucks (photo) back into its own handle.  Its a plastic handle but pretty rugged, its made by Buck AND, it has a lifetime warranty!  You can't beat that!  At $30, I think it's a very good investment.

#8, last but not least the super duper diamond hone kit by Lansky.  I bought this many years ago and have used it many a dozen times, its just not a quick and easy solution for sharpening knives on a boat.  What I did find it superior for was hunting knives, as it'll put a long lasting edge on your knife that is then very easy to touch up with one of the other sharpener's.  These kits are pretty pricey so I'd stick with the other good ones mentioned for your fishing needs.

Lots of makes and varieties with sharpeners, try a few different ones out to figure out what works best for you.  If your salmon fishing and cutting up those big chinooks with the big bones in them it dosen't take long to dull off a knife.  You want something that is quick, easy, and doesn't rust, you can figure the rest out!      Cappy