Survival fishing kits
If you’re an expert fisher or a casual fishing fan, you likely have an idea of what a survival fishing kit is. For most other people, however, fishing tends to be quite a complicated enigma. This can be a problem when you need to survive in the wild as fishing is one of the best ways to find food. So, here we’ll dig into survival fishing kits and how to use them.
What is a survival fishing kit?
A survival fishing kit is any fishing kit that’s small, lightweight, and compact enough to be easy to carry around. Standard fishing kits focus on having large quantities and diversity of baits, lures, bobbers, sinkers, hooks, lines, and other fishing tools. Survival fishing kits, on the other hand, focus on having “just enough” of those things in a compact kit.
As such, survival fishing kits come in various types and shapes. Most will come in small plastic, metal, or cloth pockets or cans. These are great for carrying around as you can stuff them almost anywhere in your jacket or gear.
Other survival fishing kits will have a hanger attached to them in order to be hung on your backpack, belt, or jacket. Most survival fishing kits don’t include a pole as even the most lightweight telescopic pole is still 12 to 20 inches long. Instead of a telescopic fishing rod, a lot of survival fishing kits will include a “Cuban yoyo” or a hand reel that you can use.
There’s also a lot of innovation in the survival fishing kit niche which has led to some curious and useful items. This hollow “Murray reel” by Jurrasic fishing, for example, is a great tool for most survival situations. The reel itself is mostly hollow which allows it to double as a box for your survival fishing items. Plus, it’s comfortable to hold and use, and it can be safely secured on your belt.
Whichever survival fishing kit you choose to buy or make, it’s important that it’s easy to carry. As with most vital survival gear, it’s best if you can carry it on you and not in your backpack. This way, even if you lose your backpack and gear, you’ll still have what you need to survive.
As for what a survival fishing kit should include – we’ll give you more details below but, in short, it should include what’s needed for fishing in your area. Different states and areas offer different fishing opportunities so you should always be prepared for the place you’ll be at.
Do you need a survival fishing kit?
If you’re planning on going through any type of wilderness where you might get lost, a survival fishing kit is one of the best things to have. As long as there are suitable bodies of water, it’s smart to have such a kit with you. Most states in the U.S. have at least some rivers, lakes, ponds, or sea access so survival fishing kits are almost always great.
Fishing vs hunting or foraging
When you’re out in the wild there are generally three ways to find food – foraging, hunting, and fishing.
Foraging is usually the easiest option as is doesn’t even require many (or any) tools. It is a little limiting in terms of what nutrients you can get from it, however. Unlike farming where you can grow dozens of different cultures, with foraging you’re stuck with what you can find. The taste qualities of most weeds, nuts, berries, and mushrooms you can forage are also limited.
Hunting is on the other end of the spectrum from foraging. It offers a great deal of protein as well as taste, however, it’s much harder to pull off. Hunting even just rabbits and small birds will require gear you usually won’t have in a survival situation. Besides, if you’re skilled enough to make your own bow, traps, or use a hunting spear, chances are you don’t need our guide.
Fishing, on the other hand, is the perfect middle ground between the two methods above. It can supply you with plenty of protein and tasty meals, and it’s more than easy enough with the right fishing kit. Together, foraging and survival fishing will usually be enough for most people to survive as long as they need to in the wilderness.
Do you need to be an expert fisherman to utilize a survival fishing kit?
No, you don’t. There’s some know-how you’ll need to be aware of to maximize your results but that’s it. Most of the basic steps and tips can either be researched at home or figured out on the fly. A good survival fishing kit will include enough items of any type to give you some leeway for trial and error.
The drawbacks of survival fishing as a survival method
Survival fishing is such a useful skill to have that it’s hard to list any significant drawbacks for it. Still, here are some points to keep in mind:
- It’s restricted by your environment. Most places in the U.S. will offer at least some fishing opportunities. Still, there are exceptions. Even in a place with fishing opportunities, however, you might have to travel quite a bit to reach them.
- It does have a learning curve. Even a complete novice can learn the basics of survival fishing pretty easily but it’s still something that’s best to be done beforehand.
- It can take some time. If you know what you’re doing you can fish enough for one or two people fairly quickly. However, if you’re not too experienced, survival fishing can take some time.
- Survival fishing still requires at least some gear. This is why it’s so important to always have good survival fishing gear by your side. As long as you have your kit with you, you’ll likely be all right. If you lose it, however, you might be in trouble.
Other uses of survival fishing kits
One of the best benefits of good survival fishing kits is that they can help with more than just fishing. The fishing line itself is one of the most useful items you can have with you in the wild. A good and strong fishing line can be used for any of the following:
- Fabric repair on your clothes or backpack.
- Suspending food and items above the ground to keep them safe.
- Setting up a tent or other temporary shelter.
- Setting up snares and traps.
- The fishing hooks are useful too, mostly for sewing fabrics but also for hanging things.
What should your survival fishing kit include?
Whether you choose to buy a survival fishing kit or prepare one yourself, it needs to include the right tools. These can vary depending on where you’re planning (or maybe forced) to fish of course. Nevertheless, the basics are always the same:
- Fishing line. We’d recommend at least 50 feet of monofilament line in the 10 to 20 lb range. It can be coiled around a hand reel or around itself. Be careful not to roll it too tightly though or it can lead to impractical twists and kinks.
- Fishing hooks. The main rule here is to pick smaller hooks rather than larger ones. That’s because smaller hooks can catch both small and big fish while bigger hooks are useless on smaller fish. Remember – we’re talking about survival fishing, not big game hunting. Even a small fish can nourish you enough if you have no other options.
Another tip here is to take extra hooks with you as they are easy to lose when fishing. This tip applies to most of the other smaller items below as well.
- These will both give your throw extra reach and sink the bait to the necessary depth. As with the hooks, make sure you have more than just a couple – they don’t weigh too much anyway.
Remember that fishing isn’t just a matter of tossing the hook in open water, you need certain precision and control. For example, most fish gravitate toward large objects in the water such as logs and stones. A nice sinker will give your throw enough precision for more effective fishing.
- These are less necessary but they are still pretty useful when you want to find your line. They hardly weigh anything too so it’s not much trouble to pack several in your kit. Even if you don’t, however, you can always use some light items around you as makeshift boggers.
- This is also definitely optional. The wilderness is usually full of possible baits – from worms and insects to fish guts. Still, you can get some bait with you too, as long as it can last unrefrigerated for at least several days.
- You can always use feathers or small flies if you don’t have any lures with you but it’s better to come prepared.
- Reel or pole. Poles are usually not preferred for survival fishing as they take a lot of space. Hand reels are much more compact and easy to carry. Still, if you have space, a nice telescopic rod can give you an extra range which is especially good for saltwater fishing. Whatever you choose, you must be comfortable with it.
- A nice, durable, and waterproof box or carrying case. This is something most novices don’t pay enough attention to. It’s crucial, however, as you don’t want your precious survival fishing kit to get flooded, damaged, or lost. It should also be compact enough to fit in a jacket pocket or easy to hang somewhere on your gear.
- A retrieving net. This is a useful tool for any fishing situation. Most commercial survival fishing kits won’t include it but you can always make your own out of any old net.
- A cutting multi-tool. This also isn’t included in most commercial kits as you’re typically expected to have one with you anyway. Still, it should be mentioned. A good Swiss knife or a different cutting multi-tool is as crucial for fishing as it is for any other survival situation.
Bonus mention: A gill net. Gill nets are outlawed in most states and are heavily restricted everywhere else. That’s because they are so absurdly effective at fishing they can devastate entire ecosystems in an afternoon.
We do NOT recommend using a gill net for any other situation other than for survival. If you’re left with no other option, however, then a gill net can absolutely save your life. As an additional benefit, gill nets are fairly compact and lightweight. You’d do well to research and practice using it first, however. If your situation is so dire that you have to use a gill net, you can’t afford to make a mistake.
Where to buy your survival fishing kit from?
We’ll refrain from giving you specific survival fishing kit modes as new ones are manufactured every season. Instead, the main brands we’d recommend include Uncle Flints Survival Fishing Kits, Bushcraft Fishing Kits, and Walmart Bug Out Bags. Hopefully, they’ll continue making excellent fishing gear in the future as well.
There are other great brands and models too, of course. As a general rule of thumb, we’d recommend shopping online rather than offline. This will give you more options to choose from as most physical stores will have limited catalogs. As long as you’re shopping from a reputable vendor and you do your research, getting your kit online should be a problem-free experience.
Aside from that, the next important tip is to shop for a kit that’s specialized for the area you’ll be visiting. There are many different types of fish out there after all. Freshwater vs saltwater, size, diet, etc. – research the fish found where you’re going and prepare accordingly.
Can you use a DIY survival fishing kit?
Sure you can. A survival fishing kit is any kit with fishing tools that includes all the essentials and is compact enough to carry around – that’s it. So, if you have one or more standard fishing kits, you can always create your own survival kit from them. Just set aside enough line, hooks, and other tools in a durable and waterproof box and dub that your personal “DIY survival fishing kit.”
Alternatively, you can just buy the different components individually. Just make sure you have everything you need.