How to dispose of fish hooks and tackle? [10 genius ideas]


Once you’ve been fishing for a little while, you start to collect more and more fishing tackle. 

And as that tackle ages, it becomes old and rusty or worn out, and some of it just needs to be chucked out. 

But what do you do with it? How do you dispose of fish hooks and tackle properly?

This article covers 10 ideas for disposing of fish hooks and other tackle inspired by what other anglers do.

Looking for a great beginner fishing rod? Click here for our must-read guide.

How do you dispose of old fish hooks or fishing tackle?

Is there a ‘right’ way to dispose of fishing hooks? 

It’s not an item that features in a typical list of ‘what can and cannot be recycled’ that you see scattered on waste bins or leaflets at home. 

So what to do? 

It seems many other anglers have asked this question online, and there are some interesting methods of disposing of fish hooks and tackle.

We are not claiming that any of these are necessarily the ‘right way’ to dispose of fishing hooks. 

You should contact your local waste or recycling authority to get an answer that’s relevant for your local area and its policy. 

But regardless, the following ideas we thought were pretty smart and safety conscious! 

1. Snip the barbs off of old hooks

Some safety-conscious anglers out there are going to great lengths when disposing of their fishing hooks. Snipping the barbs off of fishing hooks was a common practice to avoid the hooks getting caught in unwanted places – like someone’s finger!

2. Cut or break old hooks into small pieces with pliers

Another great idea to minimize any risk to others when disposing of fish hooks was sniping and breaking the hooks into smaller pieces with a pair of strong pliers. 

This reduces the risk of any wildlife getting snagged on the hook during disposal, or on the waste disposal workers’ poor hands!

3. Poke old hooks into thick cardboard and recycle

Others are attempting to reduce the risk of hooking other humans or animals by lodging the hook into something thick and durable like cardboard. This keeps the hook in place and out of danger from hooking someone. 

This hooked cardboard is then thrown in the recycling. 

This idea may not work for places where they don’t recycle metal and cardboard together.

4. Collect old hooks in a Gatorade bottle with wide mouth and recycle

A few anglers are utilizing Gatorade bottles to collect hooks in. The wide bottle mouth allows larger hooks to be placed inside the bottle, and when the bottle is full, anglers are chucking this into recycling. 

Again, it’s worth checking your local recycling center to see if this method would be ok with how they recycle different items. 

5. Keep old hooks in an old tackle box then recycle

One angler we saw gathering old hooks in an old tackle box in his garage. They were filling old tackle boxes and once full then taping them up securely to dispose of the hooks in recycling. 

6. Collect old hooks in an old coffee can, then recycle

The trusty old coffee can – what hasn’t this been used to store things in? 

Well, anglers are using these to collect tons of their old fishing hooks, then securing the lid with tape and chucking into recycling or landfill. 

The good thing about this is, if you’re using those huge coffee cans, you’re going to gather a lot of old hooks, keeping them out of the landfill for quite a while. But ideally, you would recycle them if possible. 

7. Donate to local junior or school fishing clubs. 

We loved this idea! Why not donate any old fish lures, weights, or hooks that might be salvaged to a local fishing club? 

If the tackle is salvageable, that’s a nice recycling and restoration project for the club, plus they get a bunch of free tackle donated for free.

Now we wouldn’t suggest dumping any old hooks or tackle on a club, but considering what might be reusable. 

8. Re-melt plastic lures

Have you got old lures with hooks and the lures are all mangled or torn?

Then why not re-melt and remold them to give them new life? 

You can melt down old plastics in the microwave and pour and recast them into metal molds.

You can also reshape old plastics if they’ve become bent, torn, or misshapen over time from use. 

Check out our article on restoring plastic bait here! 

9. Re-melt lead for new weights or lures

The penultimate idea we spotted was taking the lead elements of the old tackle that you’re throwing away, and collecting and re-melting this into your own new homemade weights. 

Or another suggestion was to donate the lead to small ‘mom and pop’ lure-makers who would incorporate it into their lure designs – another great community-led initiative we loved!

10. Wind old line round toilet roll holders and snip into short pieces. 

The final idea caught our eye because it’s such a great way to easily follow the guidelines for how to responsibly dispose of fishing lines. 

One angler uses the center cardboard of old toilet paper rolls to wrap their old fishing line around. 

Then, once all the line is wrapped around, they take a pair of scissors and cut down the length of the cardboard toilet paper roll, snipping the longer length of line into much smaller pieces. 

The advice is to cut the line into small lengths around a few inches long to avoid them looping and catching wildlife if they accidentally become exposed to the line. 

Want to know if it’s ok to fish with a rusty hook? Click for our article here.

Can fish hooks be recycled?

Hooks are commonly made from steel, so can definitely be recycled. The challenge is whether your local authority allows you to recycle this material, and how they advise you to recycle your steel items, particularly fishing hooks which present a hazard because of the sharp points.

It seems that many anglers do try and recycle their old fishing hooks, so it’s worth following the crowd and trying to do the same.

Contact your local recycling center to find out more from them on how to recycle your old hooks. 

Don’t forget to look at our guide for choosing a fishing rod as a beginner.

How to dispose of fish hooks and tackle? Summary.

There you have it, a little round-up of some ingenious ideas for how to safely dispose of old fish hooks. 

See what you have lying around the house or garage that you might be able to convert into one of these great hook-disposal methods.