If you’ve ever hooked a winter steelhead and lost it, the first thing through most anglers minds is the point of their hook… Was it sharp? I don’t sharpen my hooks on sink-tip flies anymore, mostly because all of the flies I fish in the winter are stinger type flies. If I have any doubt about the sharpness of my hook, I simply replace it with a new one. No hook file is going to get a hook as sharp as it is out of the box.
A good way to test how well your hook will take purchase is to run it down your fingernail. If it sticks you’re good to go, if not, replace it. If you snag up, check your hook. If you have fished the hook for a while, even if you haven’t snagged up, give it a look. Being a good winter steelheader requires attention to detail. Your hook is quit possibly the most important part of the equation to success. If you fish with sharp iron, good things will happen.