The following statement is a no-brainer, but I have to say it — using a sharp non rusty fish hook is the most core element to being successful at any and all types of fishing.
The surprising thing is that many hooks are pretty dull right out of the box.
The first thing I do when I get some new hooks is I test them out to see how sharp they are. More often than not, I end up taking a file to the hook to sharpen it up and create the point that I want. Then I test the hook point on my thumbnail to see if the hook feels sticky. If a hook slides off of your fingernail, you can bet it will slide off the bony part of a fish’s mouth.
Sharpening a hook will remove any of the coatings that the manufacturer puts on there to protect the bare steel of the hook. To reduce the risk of getting a rusty fish hook, we “paint” the hook point with a permanent marker, such as a Sharpie. This also color codes which hooks have been sharpened from those that have not. The ink from the marker does wear off with use, so you will know when the hooks need touching up with a file and another coat of permanent ink.
Its the little things like this that make the difference over the long haul.