Give a person a fish, and feed him for a day. Teach a person to fish, and feed him for life.
Nature provides us with an abundance of natural resources that we can use to survive. If you’re a bushcraft or survival veteran, then you already know that you can create your own fishing kit with materials you find.
However, when it comes to survival skills, not everyone is on the same level. Which is why we’re going to teach you how to build a bushcraft fishing kit that can easily fit in your pocket.
What is a Bushcraft Fishing Kit?
A bushcraft fishing kit contains the bare essentials needed to catch a fish in survival situations. Unlike larger fishing kits, bushcraft fishing kits are designed to be lightweight, and pocket sized, as to reduce space taken up and weight.
There is no one size fits all when it comes to creating your own kit. Needs will differ from person to person, fish you are trying to catch, and the waters in which you’re fishing. The survival fishing kit that we’re going to cover, is only going to contain the minimum essentials.
So, if there’s something you feel we left out, or something that you think isn’t necessary, feel free to modify your own kit as you see fit.
Why Fishing Kits are Important to Survival
To survive in the wild, you’re going to need to provide your body with the proper nourishment on a consistent basis. A healthy combination of plants and animal protein makes for a great diet, but hunting and foraging isn’t always easy.
For plants, you need to know what to look for. If you ingest the wrong plants, you can actually end up pumping your body full of harmful toxins that can lead to severe sickness or death. As for hunting, you need the proper equipment with you, which you may not have.
Fish, especially freshwater fish, are generally safe to eat. Now, that doesn’t mean there aren’t dangers to be aware of. For example, some states and regions have high levels of mercury in the water, which can wreak havoc on your body when consumed too frequently.
In general, consuming fish is strongly recommended as part of a healthy diet. A nicely cooked fish is both low in fat and high in protein, and loaded with omega-3 fatty acids and other vitamins and minerals. So, as far as survival goes, fish is definitely.
Keeping it Small
Unless you plan on going on a full on camping trip out of your car or with a pack mule, you generally want to carry an easy load. This means reducing and eliminating all anything that isn’t necessary to your survival.
For that reason, bushcraft fishing kits need to be kept small and compact. Which isn’t difficult to do, seeing as most of the items can fit in a small, pocket sized container.
Buying vs. Building Your Own
You have options when it comes to your bushcraft fishing kit. Most people opt to create their own. This way they can fill it with their preferred items, and just keep it to the bare basics.
On the other hand, since bushcraft has been growing in popularity, a lot of enthusiasts and companies have come up with their own survival fishing kits. For the most part, they are pretty affordable and useful. Seriously, some of these people are extremely crafty, and do great work.
In the end, it really just comes down to your preference. If you make your own kit, you know exactly what you’re getting, and you know it will be reliable. Which is why we prefer to make our own, and recommend you do the same.
Building Your Pocket Sized Fishing Kit
Alright, it’s time to get to what you really came here for. Learning how to build your own pocket sized bushcraft survival fishing kit, and that’s exactly what we’re going to teach you how to do.
Building a compact fishing kit is extremely easy, and there really aren’t a ton of steps that you need to follow. It’s more about finding durable and reliable items that you can count on when your life depends on it.
Whatever kit you’re planning on building, the foundation starts with a durable container. Something that will keep all your gear in one convenient place, but more importantly, keep them safe from the elements and normal wear and tear.
Fishing kits for bushcraft and survival don’t have many large items. Which means you can use just about anything as your container. As long as it can withstand the presence of moisture and water that are inevitable when dealing with fishing.
Popular containers include:
- Altoid tins
- Hobo reels
- Carved wood
- Small water bottles
- Plastic bead containers
Again, you can use just about anything. Although, if you do plan on using a glass for your container, it should be reinforced or protected with cord or rubber. That will protect it from shattering as it makes contact with other items in your bushcraft pack.
This goes without saying, but no bushcraft fishing kit is complete without adequate fishing line. Without it, you’re probably better off trying to use a spear, net, or your own hands.
Fishing lines can be broken down into three general categories, monofilament, braided line, and fluorocarbon. Each of these categories has the advantages and disadvantages, so preference comes into play with the type you choose.
First, let’s start with the monofilament line, since it’s the current standard and has been used for decades. Monofilament line is usually made from a single thread of nylon, and is a more affordable option.
Monofilament line is a top choice for most because it’s easy to use, casts smoothly, and holds knots very well. It has a lot of stretch, which is good for most circumstances, but is lacking in the precision department. Definitely a solid choice, especially for beginners.
Next up we have fluorocarbon fishing line, which is made similarly to it’s monofilament counterpart. Fluorocarbon isn’t as popular as monofilament, but it does have some advantages. A couple being, it is nearly invisible when it’s underwater, and resistant to abrasions.
Fluorocarbon fishing line is a great choice, even though it’s a bit more expensive, and not much stronger than monofilament line. Although, fluorocarbon does last longer than some of its counterparts, which is useful when you’re out in nature.
Lastly, we have braided fishing line, which is made by weaving together multiple strands of polyethylenes. The result produces a very thin, very durable fishing line that has quickly become a favorite among fishing enthusiasts. Bear in mind, this line does come with a hefty price tag, but you get what you pay for.
One of the main benefits of braided fishing line is its strength. Because it is built with more than a single strand, which means it will last the longest when you’re out fishing. On the flip side, braided line is tough to tie, and doesn’t blend in very well when in the water.
Your fishing line will be useless if it’s not attached to a quality hook. There are too many fishing hooks to count, so if you have a favorite, then by all means, use it in your bushcraft kit. If you don’t, some of the more popular styles of fishing hooks include:
- Bait holder
All that really matters is that your fishing hook has the ability to do its job. Which is to firmly hook into the mouth of a fish, and keep it on the line while you reel it in. Which is why most hooks come with the same basic anatomy.
Starting from the top, you have the eye, which is a loop where you connect your fishing hook to the fishing line or lead. On the opposite side of the eye, you have the point. As you can safely guess from the name, the point is the sharpened end that is used to penetrate the mouth of the fish.
Near the point, you also have the barb. The barb is an additional sharpened projection that extends in the opposite direction of the point that is used to keep your fish on the hook by locking it into place.
There are two additional parts of your fishing hook that connect the eye to the point. They are known as the shank and bend. The shank is the stratigher portion of the hook that extends from the eye. Which then meets the bend, which connects to the point and barb.
Lastly, you’ll have the gap. The gap is the distance between the point and the shank.
If you’re aren’t an avid fisherman, then you probably aren’t familiar with what a leader is. Basically, the leader is a separate fishing line that is used as a barrier between your fishing line and your lure or hook.
If you don’t have a leader, it’s not the end of the world, you can still catch fish. However, using the right leader can make your life much easier.
Leaders are beneficial for two primary reasons, which really depend on your line. For example, if you are using a braided fishing line, then you may want to use a monofilament leader. The reason being, monofilament line is less visible in water than a braided line, and holds up better to abrasion.
Fishing sinkers are usually made from metal, and are the heaviest part of your survival fishing kit. Their purpose is simple, to bring your line and hook down to the depths where fish reside to increase your chances for success.
Historically, fishing sinkers have been made from lead, which leads to a couple of problems. Most noticeably, lead is toxic to both people and the ecosystem.
For that reason, some states and federal lands do require you to use lead free sinkers. So, you should always do your research ahead of time before packing your kit.
For best use, you want to attach your sinker about 6 inches to 12 inches above your hook. But depending on the waters your fishing in, and the materials you have, you can make adjustments as needed.
Since this is a bushcraft survival fishing kit, we’re not going to include bait. The reasons being, it’s going to be hard to keep your bait in a small little tin, and bait is going to be readily available since you’re already in nature.
Bait is only really good for a one time use. Since this is a kit that you’ll need to use over and over again, a lure will be a better option.
In reality, a lure is the artificial version of live bait. It is used to grab the attention of fish, and give them a reason to latch onto your hook.
Fishing lures come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Some even come with a little extra flare, like feathers. The type of lure that you want to include in your bushcraft fishing kit will be something on the smaller side, and something that will hold up against multiple uses.
Fishing Floats and Bobbers
Lastly, we have fishing floats and bobbers. Fishing floats are generally made from lightweight materials, such as foam or cork, that will float in the water while your hook is doing its job below the surface.
You’ll want to include a float in your fishing kit for several reasons. First, your float can be used to maintain your hook’s depth. This is beneficial, because you don’t just want your hook and lure sinking straight to the bottom of the water.
Second, it will help your hook maneuver and drift in the water. Which can in turn help your hook and lure reach areas of the water that may be inaccessible to you, thus increasing the amount of area you can cover.
Finally, the reason that most people use floats, they help you determine when a fish is on the line. Since bobbers float, you’ll be able to see if something is tugging at the other end of your fishing line if they begin to bob in the water.
If you have all the items that we talked about above, you can put them together to create your very own bushcraft fishing kit. The size and weight really comes down to what you want to include.
The larger the items, the more you have to carry, but the better prepared you’ll be. The more compact your kit is, the less you’ll have to carry, but you’ll also have less to work with.
We recommend spending some time with different fishing gear, and taking things for a test ride before solidifying as a staple of your survival fishing kit. The last thing you want to do is find yourself alone in the wilderness with less than adequate gear.