How Long Does it Take for Fish Hook to Rust?

Anglers who practice catch and release fishing, as well as fishermen who use and reuse hooks when sport fishing, have an interest in knowing how long does it take for fish hook to rust? Because baiting or removing a fish from a hook is not as easy when the hook is rusty.

The time it takes a fish hook to rust will depend significantly on water conditions and the quality of the fishing hook itself. A good quality fishing hook can last for years, even if left tied to a fishing line. Rust is caused by iron exposure to oxygen, so factors that affect this reaction and speed up the process are exposure to water and air.

There are many ways to protect fish hooks against rust, including painting them with clear nail polish, coating them in beeswax, or keeping them coated in a protective agent. However, if a fisherman leaves his tackle box outside without applying a protective layer to the metal hooks, they may begin to rust within two days.

Factors that Determines How Long It Takes for a Fish Hook to Rust

Factors that Determines How Long It Takes for a Fish Hook to Rust

It has been stated earlier that a fish hook could last for months, three years, or more, depending on some factors. Some of these factors make rust occur quicker on a fishing hook than others. Highlighted below is a list of some of the factors that determine how soon a fish hook will get rust.

  • Material: All types of hook material will rust but some materials will rust faster than others, irrespective of other conditions that determine how soon the fish hook will rust. A fish hook made of wire will rust faster than one made of treated and protective material. Also, a stainless fishing hook will stay longer before it begins to rust than a metal fishing hook.
  • Frequency of use: How often you use the fishing hook will also determine how soon it will rust. When you use the hook often, it passes through frequent wear and tear, which removes protective materials on the hook faster and makes it susceptible to rust. Also, a fishing hook will get weakened easily when it is often submerged in water.
  • Nature of the water: In a situation where you use a fishing hook often in saltwater, it will get rust faster than a fishing hook that is used in freshwater. Saltwater is more abrasive, which makes it quicker for fishing hooks to get rust quicker when you use them in it.
  • Maintenance: Lack of proper care will make a fishing hook rust quicker. Irrespective of the nature of the water where you use the hook, you should wash, dry, and keep it properly after use. This will not only increase the lifespan of the fishing hook but will also determine how soon it will get rust.
  • Age: After a period of use, the protective material on a fishing hook will begin to degrade, thereby increasing the probability of getting rust. A fishing hook that has been used for an extended period will get rust quicker than a new fishing hook.
  • Size: The size of a hook will determine the level of its resistance against rust. Smaller and thinner hooks get rust quicker than bigger and thicker hooks.

Preventing Fishing Hook from Rust

It is easier to prevent rust than fix it. With simple DIY methods, you can prevent rust on a fishing hook. Here is a list of some of the things you can do to prevent rust on a fishing hook.

  1. Wash after use: The fishing hook is susceptible to rust when you use it in saltwater. Nevertheless, irrespective of the nature of the water where you use the fishing hook, you should wash it with clean water immediately after use.
  2. Paint the fishing hook: A consistent use of the fishing hook will gradually reduce the protective material on it. You can potentially prevent rust on the fishing hook by painting it. You are good to go with nail polish.
  3.  Dry and keep in the saline environment: Water and air cause rust to happen faster on a fishing hook. Once you have washed it, you should dry the fishing hook with a microfiber cloth, you then keep it in an airtight container.
  4. Discard old hook: In a situation where you have some abandoned old hooks, it is recommended that you discard them. Old fishing hooks get rust easily and could spread the rust to any nearby hooks if they are exposed to the same condition.

Removing Rust from Fishing Hooks

Removing rust on the fishing hook is possible but it is easier to prevent it from happening. You can remove it yourself with simple DIY methods. Here is a list of some of the things you can do to remove rust from fishing hooks.

  1. Scrub off the rust: With an abrasive sponge or sandpaper, you can remove rust from a fishing hook. Use any on the affected part, then use a tack rag to clean it. You should repeat this process until the rust has been removed. You can then apply paint on the fishing hook, if possible.
  2. Soak in vinegar: You can get an undiluted lemon juice, pour it in vinegar, then soak the rusted fishing hook in it overnight. You will remove it the following morning, wash and dry it, then see if you are satisfied with the result. You can soak it again in the vinegar if there is still any trace of rust on the fishing hook.
  3. Paint affected part: You can potentially recover a fishing hook from rust by painting the affected part.  You can use nail polish on it, allow it to dry, and repeat the process if you are not satisfied with the result.


Fishing hooks get rust quicker when you use them in saltwater. Though other conditions could make the fishing hook rust also. Nevertheless, with proper maintenance of the fishing hook, you can use it for many years without it getting rusty.

Evan Cooper

Evan Cooper

Hi, I’m Evan Cooper, the founder and an editor of this site, Doesitrust. I’m a chemical engineer and working in a rust-eliminating paint manufacturing company. Besides this profession, I’m a researcher and blogger.

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