Do Fishing Hooks Dissolve Faster in Saltwater or Freshwater?

Whether you’re worried about the fish or the local environment, it’s crucial to know how quickly your fishing hooks dissolve. Hooks can get caught in a fish’s mouth or stomach, not to mention they could get lost in the water. However, the time it takes to dissolve heavily depends on whether it’s saltwater or freshwater.

Fishing hooks dissolve faster in saltwater because moisture, salinity, and oxygen combine to corrode metal objects. There’s no salt in freshwater lakes and rivers, which means your fishing hooks won’t break down as quickly. To protect and reuse fishing hooks, wash them with fresh water and dry them.

Throughout this article, you’ll also learn the following information about why saltwater dissolves fishing hooks faster than freshwater:

  • The science behind saltwater’s corrosive properties on metal fishing hooks
  • Various factors that increase the dissolving rates of your hooks
  • Tips to keep your fish hooks from breaking down
  • Recommended hooks to use
fishing hook in fish mouth

Why Do Fishing Hooks Dissolve Faster in Saltwater?

Saltwater is highly corrosive against fish hooks and other metal objects. Whether you’re protecting your fishing hooks, reel, or anything else in your kit, it’s important to understand why saltwater is much more harmful than freshwater. Let’s explore a handful of reasons fishing hooks (and other fishing gear) deteriorate quickly in saltwater.

  • Saltwater is highly corrosive on metal objects. According to Sciencing, saltwater is up to five times more corrosive than freshwater, which means your metal fishing hooks are prone to breaking down. This factor is beneficial if you lose a hook in the water, but it is terrible if you’re preserving it.
  • Air with high salinity often dissolves metal much quicker. You don’t have to be fishing in saltwater to damage your metal fishing hooks. The same study by Sciencing concluded that the high levels of salt in the air around oceans, seas, and other bodies of saltwater were up to ten times more corrosive than low-saline air.
  • Salt sticks to surfaces much more than low-saline water. Salt left on your fishing gear will quickly break down the metal. When salt, water, and oxygen combine, they lead to rust, corrosion, and more. If you drop a hook in the water or a fish gets away with it, you can rest assured it’ll break down over time.

As you can see, these three factors are quite influential when it comes to dissolving fishing hooks. Saltwater is much more damaging to metal, but it can be helpful if you’re worried about its eco-friendly properties. However, it should also be noted that, even though saltwater can corrode metal, fishing hooks can still take years to break down completely. Therefore, it remains important to remove them from the water when possible.

What Makes a Fishing Hook Corrode Quickly?

fishing hooks dissolve in saltwater

If you’re tired of replacing your fishing hooks due to rust, corrosion, calcification, and so on, you’re not alone. There’s a reason many hook packs include ten or more hooks! They’re easily lost and break down too quickly. However, there’s a lot you can do to slow down this process. To know how to stop it, you should know what makes some hooks dissolve faster than the rest.

Below, you’ll find three explanations of why your fishing hooks corrode quickly.

The Hook’s Age and Condition Matter

Outdoor Troop explains old, warped hooks will corrode quicker than brand-new ones. If a fish steals your hook or you forgot to remove it before releasing them, you can rest assured an old hook will likely wiggle its way out of its lip. If your hook is already rusted or damaged, it’s best to toss it away to prevent harming yourself or the fish.

Keep in mind that the quality matters. Cheap, low-end fishing hooks will likely bend and crack much sooner than high-end ones. You’ll notice they don’t stand the test of time, especially with the previously mentioned, deteriorating qualities of saltwater.

Large Hooks Dissolve Slower Than Small Hooks

Size matters when it comes to a dissolving fishing hook. Big hooks take much longer than small hooks since there’s more surface area and metal. If you’re using big hooks, it’s important to take extra caution not to lose them. They can take many years to dissolve, especially if you lose them in a freshwater lake or river.

You should also consider the hook’s thickness. Thick metal takes a lot longer, so keep that in your mind when comparing the dissolving rates of two fishing hooks.

A Hook Corrodes More the Longer It’s Submerged 

The longer the hook is submerged, the more it’ll corrode. It’s not as though fishing hooks dissolve in saltwater instantaneously. Leaving a fishing hook in saltwater for a few minutes won’t be much of an issue. However, you should wipe it off with a dry rag to prevent the salt from settling and rusting the hook. If you find a rusted hook underwater, it’s likely been there for many days, weeks, or months. Leave it alone or dispose of it with safety gloves.

There are many more reasons your fishing hooks might dissolve fast, including high salinity (more than usual, such as the salty waters of the Dead Sea), material (numerous metals are used in fishing hooks), and more. To learn how you can protect your hooks from saltwater corrosion, proceed to the next section.

How To Prevent Your Fish Hooks From Breaking Down

Having high-quality, long-lasting hooks starts with the brand, shape, materials, and how you use it. Assuming you’ve chosen your favorite brand and want to preserve your hooks, the five steps listed below should be analyzed.

fishing hooks dissolve in saltwater
  1. Check the hook’s condition before using it. GameFishingFiji displays a helpful chart that shows how quickly different hooks dissolve in water. There’s no denying the aforementioned qualities, but it’s worth checking out if you want to get the best hooks that last as long as possible. Checking the hook’s condition prior to use ensures that it will no break and is sharp. You do not want to lose fish due to old hooks.
  2. Always wash your fishing hooks with fresh water when you’re done fishing. Regardless if you’re using the hooks in freshwater or saltwater, you should always wash them with clean, fresh water at the end of the day. Saltwater and contaminants can wreak havoc on your fishing gear, especially in the ocean.
  3. Dry the hooks to prevent rust and corrosion. Use a towel to remove all moisture, drying the hooks as if they were brand new. Oxygen and water cause metal to rust, so removing water prevents it from showing up. Furthermore, doing so can prevent long-term calcification on metal surfaces.
  1. Discard old hooks. Damaged hooks are prone to inviting bacteria, rust, calcification, and more. It’s difficult to remove these contaminants because they find their way into the crevices. Storing these hooks in your tackle box can create corrosion throughout your other hooks. A bent hook is also compromised in strength. Once a hook has been bent, it is prone to failure and loss of the fish.
  2. Store fishing hooks in a saline-free environment (especially if you live near an ocean). Keep them in an airtight container to prevent the corrosion and rust caused by saltwater and humid areas. Never store your fishing gear wet, regardless of the material, shape, size, or condition.
Gamakatsu and Mustad hooks up close

What is the best hook to use?

Throughout my career as a fishing guide, I have tried various  different hook manufacturers and styles. Below are the 5 that I personally use and would recommend. Each of these have been tested vigorously for durability and performance. 


Now that you know hooks dissolve in saltwater faster because it is significantly more corrosive than freshwater, you can protect your fishing hooks every time you go fishing. Remember to wash the hooks (and other metal equipment that gets wet) with fresh water. Dry them off when you’re done to prevent rust, corrosion, and more.

Here’s a quick recap of the post:

  • Saltwater and humid, saline environments drastically increase metal corrosion.
  • Losing a fishing hook in freshwater will take a while to break down.
  • As they corrode, fish hooks become bendy, which means they can fall out of a fish’s mouth.