Fishing has always been a part of my life. When I was a kid, I would fish with my Dad and Uncle at the lakes in the North Cascades. Then I would sometimes head down to the Skagit River and fish there. Baker Lake Dam was one of the best places if you were without a boat.
It was always fun to just get out somewhere different and then actually catching a fish was always super exciting. Sometimes my Uncle or my Dad would put out some “Chum” which was really just stinky fish bait that would bring them in.
Trout fishing with my dad at Baker Lake Dam in Washington State when I was 8 or 9. I remember being annoyed that day because I forgot to do laundry and none of my clothes matched!
Fishing can be a great way to add some protein to your diet during a survival situation. Even if you are not an avid angler, having a survival fishing kit on hand makes sense. In this post we will explore the best options for kits you can just buy and how to put together your own custom kit. There are a few things to consider before actually buying or putting together any type of kit.
Saltwater or Freshwater?
Saltwater fishing poles are longer and made to be thicker and heavier. Reels are correspondingly larger as well. Freshwater poles can be as simple as a collapsible or telescoping pole.
What size are the fish in your area? What are you going to try to catch?
The size of your line and hooks need to match up with the fish you are trying to get. Smaller fish like trout can see a thick line in the water and be far to cautious to ever approach. You also need a hook small enough that they can actually get it in their mouth. On the other hand, if you have a big runs of steel head that are 3 feet long and 20 lbs, you are going to need a thicker line.
The Test Strength Of Line Is VERY Important!
Fishing line is rated by lbs but in my experience it is a lot stronger than the number would lead you to believe. I can break a 2 lb test line with my hands but a 5 lb test trout line hurts to try. Using thinner line also allows you to put a greater length of it on any given fishing reel.
Essential Fishing Kits
Sougayilang Fishing Rod
Best Glide ASE Survival Fishing Kit
Collapsible poles or traditional ones
My husband Matt and I have at times used the collapsible lightweight backpacking poles. They are pretty nice for hiking back into hard to get to spots. These poles are made for light fishing like trout and other small freshwater fishes.
You can just slip them down in a water bottle holder on a day pack and go! They are inexpensive but I would advise having an extra one if you plan on using it much because the collapsible nature of them can make it very hard to repair them if they fail.
Standard poles break down into pieces and you can get them that are compact and lightweight. If something breaks they can be repaired more readily or you can use a piece from another pole. The downside to these is that you can lose a piece if you are not careful. A small bag can eliminate the problem.
Survival kits do not have any type of pole
Some hardcore survivalists may just think a pole and reel adds weight but I disagree that it is not worth it. A real pole and reel is going to make your chances of getting a fish a lot better. While a kit is better than nothing, a real pole if you are bugging out and in an area with a reasonable fish population is worth it.
Meat is a luxury in a survival situation so anything you can do to make it easier to acquire calories is a good thing. You can fish in places where you can’t hunt as easily too. During a bug out situation you may find you have more time on your hands for fishing anyway.
Buy lots of hooks
If you fish much you are going to lose hooks. Snags happen, lines break, a knot doesn’t get tied right, these things happen. Hooks are not expensive and you can fit a lot of them in a very small container.
Fishing poles don’t have to cost a fortune to catch a big fish
Right after college Matt and I lived in Ketchikan, Alaska for just over 2 years. Now there are some really big fish out there. People will fish off the bridges in town for salmon that weight 20-40 lbs or more. There would be people fishing with Mickey Mouse children’s fishing poles catching huge fish. Don’t think that you have to have the best to get results!
This kit comes in an easy to pack tin and contains a wide range of lures, line, and hooks. You will need to add your own pole or use a stick or something to create a makeshift one. I like that this kit includes two sizes of line, 12 lb and 30 lb, making it useful for different fishing conditions.
This kit has a lot to offer but it does only have 20 lb and 50 lb test fishing line in it so if you are going for smaller fish like trout then you will want to add in some thinner line. Besides that you get a big variety of hooks, split shot weights, swivels, a few bobbers, and even some fancier lures and spinners. They even throw in a single artificial fly lure. This is a quality kit that is easy to fit in a coat pocket or a small compartment on your pack. You could even stick this into a tactical belt if you wanted.
This kit impresses me with just how small it is. Not all kits are going to slip down in a pants pocket like this one. This is a different kit in that it is not just a fishing kit but a firestarter kit too! You get 11 hooks, 6 BB sized split shot, cork bobber, 3 barrel swivels, a ferro rod, steel wool, striker, and jute string. I like that they have reasonable sizes of fishing line in this kit.
The 6 lb test is fine for smaller freshwater fishes whereas the 20 lb line can take on some catfish and others. This kit is a bit on the expensive side but it offers a unique approach and a lot of function. If you don’t want to pay for this one, you should at least consider using it for inspiration for putting together your own compact kit.
This inexpensive kit has about everything you need besides fishing line and a pole. It is pretty amazing that so many different items can be organized and fit so well in such a small space. For those that want a kit that they can use for saltwater and freshwater, this is a real bargain.
While it is not quite small enough to fit into a standard pants pocket, it will fit in a very small pack compartment. For hitting the trail, this is enough gear to keep several anglers fishing for a long time.
I like the fact that this kit gives you a lot of fishing line. You get an amazing 100 ft of 10 lb test and another 50 ft of super strong 20 lb test. None of that only having 20-30 feet of line in your survival fishing kit! Also you get a real honest to goodness stinger for keeping your catch until you are done and ready to dress them out.
Putting Together Your Own
Here is a list of the basic things an emergency fishing kit should have in it. The type of hooks, line, and lures you need are going to vary based on your geographic location.
- Pole w/reel or at least something sturdy to wrap line around to bring in a fish
- Bait. Unless you plan on using only live bait from the wilds or some of your food then you might want to add in a small container of bait. Salmon eggs, Powerbait, or whatever you prefer.
- Multi Tool or Pliers for removing hooks and dressing fish
These reels are strung with 60 lb test line which while strong is too thick for some fishing purposes. To combat this problem you can attach a thinner line to the swivel on the end. These reels are affordable and a reasonable alternative to a pole during a survival situation. I wouldn’t mind having a dozen of these to make some fishing kits or have for barter.
These little circular marvels are inexpensive and a good start to creating your own survival fishing kit. They fit in a pocket or the smallest of back pack pockets.
Bait and Other Fishing Rules
An emergency survival situation is not one where you are going to care too much about breaking some fish and game rules. Some streams are catch and release or stipulate that you can only use certain styles of bait. It is really hard to keep up with the rules sometimes. In fact the only way is if there are signs or you read the annual fishing guidelines before you go out.
That being said I have had excellent luck using a medium cheddar cheese molded around a trout hook. Mild is too soft and falls of the hook sooner and sharp cheese cannot be molded on to the hook so well. Fish like things that are different than what they are used to sometimes and they are not as cautious as they would be approaching bait that has been used in a hole a lot.
Me trout fishing in North Carolina circa 2012! That was a really good day out. We got a few good meals for us and a few other folks!
Keeping size is another thing that everyone is just going to ignore in a survival situation. An inch short is still better than not eating or getting valuable protein when roughing it and bugging out. During good times though you better keep that ruler with you because you never know when the game warden is going to stop by and check your license and your catch! The fines are outrageous and it is not worth the risk!
Practice, practice, and then patience, patience
If you haven’t ever fished or if you are rusty on how to tie a line or bait a hook then there is no time like the present to get some practice in. Learning how to set a hook when you get a bite is another skill to master. It can take some time to catch a fish as well.
Fish sometimes just are not hungry. There are certain times of day that can vary a bit by season. If you are camped out you can always just keep a line out. Having a bobber on it or even a floating stick tied on to your line can help you keep tabs on your line when you are not actually holding it. Popular spots can sometimes be fished out.
What tips and ideas do you have for survival fishing kits? Have you found any rods or reels that hold up better than others? I would like to learn more about how to haul in a fish best without a real rod and reel!
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