How to Build Your Own DIY Survival Fishing Kit
When living off the land, something we have to seriously think about is where are we going to get our food if we are to be in the wilderness for an extended period of time (more than 72 hours). One possible answer is fish and should be your top food priority if you have sufficient resources in your area. Survival fishing is the answer in many areas for all your food needs, and our instructor Josh Hamlin survived on fish almost exclusively for over 2 years while surviving in the wilderness. Fish can be quite abundant in many streams, rivers and lakes out in the backcountry depending on your location. It is important to have the right skills and equipment with you to be able to take advantage of this valuable resource and the better your equipment is the higher your chances of success. You can always go with less and bushcraft what you need but a kit like this will make things way to easy. You’ll have more fish than you know what to do with if you employ the equipment with the proper tactics. In this article I’m going to be showing you how to put together you own survival fishing kit for INCH bags and long term self-reliance. I’ve got a lot to cover so let’s get started.
First of all, let’s begin with the container. When selecting a container, I always like to ensure that it meets the following criteria:
- Fully Waterproof
- Small enough to fit into a cargo pants pocket
I would use a large, empty Altoids tin or the waterproof Adventurer Survival Kit box by Best Glide ASE to contain all you fishing bits and pieces. An alternative to a simple metal container would be a waterproof, plastic container with dividers inside for separating all your bits and pieces like this one here. And if I were you, I would wrap a couple of rubber bands or maybe a reasonable amount of paracord around the container for extra security.
Just because of who I am, I like to organise things into small zip lock style plastic bags. This makes sense as you don’t want your fishing gear all mixed up and you also want it to be easy to gain access to.
Yes this fishing kit isn’t designed to be a minimalistic pocket sized kit but I like the idea of carrying a spool of a reasonable amount of commercial fishing line (60 – 100 m) just in case you’re unable to grab your hand reels or pack rods (which I’ll talk about later) for whatever reason or you might just lose one of your reels etc. Commercial fishing line is much stronger than standard fishing line and is great for survival purposes. In a sense, this kit has the ability to be self-contained in a pinch.
Assorted fishing hooks (24)
Always remember that small fish hooks can catch both small and large fish. The more hooks the better as they can get lost or swallowed by fish.
These are an essential component of your fishing rig and I suggest that you carry at least a dozen of these. They prevent line twist with spinning reels and will give you the ability to mix and match line sizes. Leaders are also a good option to add for larger fish with teeth and you will need both leaders/swivels for large teethed fish.
Circle hooks (12)
Due to the clever design of these hooks, they are proven to catch more fish and are rarely swallowed. It is becoming increasingly popular with anglers today. I’ve caught fish all over the world with these and they can even be used in the ocean with great effectiveness.
Artificial Baits (6)
Essentially, lures are artificial bait and come in very handy as they are good at enticing fish into thinking that they will make a tasty snack. Usually lures come in the shape of a small fish and… remember that large fish like eating small fish. So… keep a good quantity of these on hand.
Plastic Floats/Bobbers (3)
These little floating devices are great to have on hand. You CAN do without them (I have) but it just makes your job of finding your line visually, a lot easier. I suggest that you carry at least three of these because they can get lost pretty easily (especially in cases when you’re forced to cut the line).
If you’re the sort of person that like to improvise, wine corks, earplugs and foam all make good improvised bobbers too, by the way.
Split-shot Sinkers (12)
Carry at least a dozen lead split – shot sinkers in a small zip lock bag. These can get lost quite easily too.
Small hand fishing reels (4)
From experience I know that these are actually quite effective in catching a wide range of small to medium sized fish. Its a good idea to pack at least four of these inside your main fishing kit pouch and ensure that they have a significant amount of line on them. It does take a lot of skill using fishing reels, but with a little patience and practice you can master the skill of using it. There is a good fishing reel made by Yo-Yo which is basically automatic and saves you from manually reeling in the line (SIGMA 3 recommends that you get this particular brand).
Pack rods (1)
These are foldable rods that are robust and aren’t susceptible to breakage as easily (like most telescopic rods). I recommend that you get the Emmrod Pack Rod from SIGMA 3. Its virtually indestructible, half the price and packs down a lot smaller than comparable pack rods. SIGMA 3 has caught all sizes of fish with these rods, they are absolutely amazing. Rob Allen, the founder, actually caught a 150 lb tarpon on one of these setups. Enough can’t be said about how packable, lightweight, and durable these little fishing setups are. You will take some loss in casting distance with a shorter rod, but for survival fishing it is excellent.
Gill Net (1)
Something else I’d add to this kit is a small gill (similar to seine) net (like the Adventurer Survival Gill Net made by Best Glide ASE). These are very effective and can be useful for catching a variety of crabs, shrimps and small fish in greater quantities than several lines would. Basically you stretch this across a river, stream or other waterway and any fish that get caught inside will be trapped by their gills. Obviously crabs and other similar sized seafood will be trapped merely by their size and their inability to get through the netting. This gill net is light, doesn’t take up much space and can be folded up and placed in a small ziplock plastic pouch for easy, compact storage.
Yo Yo Fishing Traps
These are super handy and you can set them up in no time. This is a must have for every kit and will insure you’re catching fish while working on other things. They are essentially automatic fishing reels that set the hook, wear the fish out, and will have him waiting for you right below where you hung it. These are not the best for large fish but work great for fish 5 lbs and under. SIGMA 3 instructors have literally provided all their meat needs with just this simple little tool and have caught more fish than they can eat. We always carry these in our kits for survival fishing and consider it a must have for any place with fish. It’s recommended that you carry at least 4 per person in your group. We have several videos on our youtube channel explaining how to use them.
Basic Knots Card
Knots can be hard to remember especially if you don’t go fishing regularly. I suggest that you get a waterproof knots card like the one here to keep inside your kit. It all comes down to personal preference, but if there’s one knot that you should remember, I personally recommend the clinch knot.
I think artificial bait is a waste of valuable storage space in your survival fishing kit. I would recommend that you learn where to find natural bait and learn what fish like what. Finding and knowing the appropriate bait for a wide variety of fish is an invaluable skill to have.
Look around and under rocks for small critters such as grasshoppers and worms etc. Remember that big fish feed on small fish, so you’ll want to consider this as your bait when fishing for larger fish. If you have a specific bug out location (BOL) planned, I highly recommend that you thoroughly scout out the area and determine what fish live there. Knowing the type of fish that you’ll be catching will help you decide the right bait for them and also the places where they are most abundant. I think it’s a good idea to pack a large freezer bag inside your fishing kit to store bait in whilst collecting.
A good multitool
A multitool such as a Leatherman Wave (heavier option) or a Leatherman Sidekick (lightweight option) can come in handy for removing hooks, cutting line, processing fish and a multitude of other tasks.
Last but not least… a survival knife
This survival knife can be used for gutting, preparing fish and many other uses to do with fishing. I won’t go into depth about selecting the right survival knife for your needs but you can check out our custom SIGMA 3 Survival knife, as it is our most recommended choice in bushcraft blades.
Ok, so there you have it! A compact, yet comprehensive survival fishing kit that allows you to be self-reliant when bugging out for any extended period of time. You can tailor the size of your fishing kit to where you are going and how long you’ll be gone. This is very modular and can be scaled up or down based on your survival fishing needs. I hope you enjoyed this article and found the information useful.