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While there are a variety of ways to remove rust from old fishing hooks, the easiest way to restore them to their original condition is to grind or sand the rust off. You can use a hand-held, motorized tool to make the job easier, or try using a scrap piece of sandpaper and do it by hand. You can also use a little apple cider vinegar if grinding does not work.
Remove any hooks that are attached to lures before trying to clean them. This keeps you from damaging the lure body or its finish. Try to grind the rust off with a rotary grinding tool or a bit of medium-grit sandpaper. If this does not remove the rust completely, use the acidity of apple cider vinegar to your advantage. Fill a small jar with the apple cider vinegar and add the hooks – make sure they are completely covered by the vinegar. Check on the hooks periodically; when the hooks are clean enough for your standards, remove them from the vinegar, rinse them in warm water and dry them completely. Now, you can get out on the water, and try out your rust-free hooks.
It is important to inspect the hooks and be sure that they still look sound enough to withstand grinding or sanding them. Grinding a weak hook can cause it to break, sending pieces of metal flying. Wear eye protection when trying to sand or grind hooks, and begin by testing one of the hooks from each lure. If the "test hook" begins to break, just replace the old hooks.
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