Bushcraft Fishing Rod – Building a Primitive Pole in the Wild

by | Oct 9, 2020 | Fishing

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Mastering the art of bushcraft, and honing your survival skills is no easy task. However, for those adventurous enough to get back to our more primitive roots, there’s nothing more rewarding that becoming self-reliant. Which is why today, we’re going to cover how you can make your own bushcraft fishing rod when you’re out in nature.

What is a Bushcraft Fishing Rod?

A bushcraft fishing rod is a makeshift pole used to catch fish. Unlike the advanced modern fishing poles made from fiberglass or carbon fibre, bushcraft rods are made from natural materials, such as wood. Primitive fishing poles have a rich history, and can be dated as far back as 2000 BC.

Why You’ll Want One

There are a number of different methods to catching fish in the wild. Techniques such as spearfishing and using nets are not uncommon, but require a lot more skill and effort than using a bushcraft fishing rod. Simply put, using a pole is going to make catching fish a whole lot easier for you with minimum effort, which is especially great for survival situations.

There are also benefits to consider when using a fishing pole. For example, using the right rod will help you catch larger fish than you’d be able to reel in with your hand. A flexible fishing rod helps with leverage, torque, drag, and even reduces your required effort.

How to Build Your Own Bushcraft Fishing Pole

Unless you’re going on a fishing trip, chances are, you won’t have all your trusted gear with you when you’re out in the wild. But that doesn’t matter. After you master your new skills, you’ll be able to build your own bushcraft fishing rod with common items you come across.

Wood Selection

The wood you choose will largely depend on what’s available to you. While some wood, like ash, hickory, and bamboo, is better than others, don’t get too hung up on what type of wood you use. At the end of the day, you just want to build a survival fishing pole that will help you catch fish.

Regardless of the wood you find, you should always opt to use a live branch as a rod over a dead branch you find on the ground. The reason being, live branches have more flexibility to them, and won’t break as easily under pressure. The same can’t always be said for the dried out branches or sticks you find on the ground.

Cutting it Down to Size

Once you find the perfect living branch for your bushcraft fishing rod, it’s time to cut it down to size. Length generally ranges anywhere from 2 to 12 feet. It really depends on your size, and the area that you are going to be fishing in.

As a rule of thumb, the shorter your fishing pole, the less torque and leverage you’ll have. However, shorter fishing rods provide you with more accuracy and precision. So, if you’re trying to catch small fish for lunch or dinner in a smaller stream or pond, opt for a shorter pole.

On the other hand, if you are going for some larger fish, try to get a bigger fishing rod. Larger fishing poles give you more leverage when it comes to reeling your catch in. Additionally, it allows you to reach further into the deeper waters, where larger fish like to hang out.

Lastly, when you’re cutting your fishing rod down to size, make sure that it tapers from bottom to top. Meaning, you’ll want a thicker base, and a thinner top. The reason being, your rod will be more sturdy, and won’t break as easily.

Create Comfortable Grip

If you’ve ever picked up a stick or branch in nature, you already know that they aren’t exactly built for comfort. That’s why you see a lot of people with hiking sticks that are sanded down. Now, picture yourself holding onto your bushcraft fishing rod with a tight grip while trying to reel in a fish. It’s going to hurt.

After harvesting your live branch, your next step is going to be creating a comfortable grip. That starts with removing any extra branches or leaves that may be poking out. If you have a knife with you, begin to shave down the area where you plan on holding onto your fishing rod. If you don’t have a knife, a jagged rock works just fine.

Add Fishing Line and Hook

Once you have a comfortable grip, your bushcraft fishing rod is complete. All that’s left to do to catch some fish is add the rest of your fishing gear. We always recommend carrying a pocket-sized fishing kit with you. That way, you’ll have hooks, line, lures, and anything else that can make your life a little bit easier.

Survival Rod Alternatives

We’ve taught you how to make your own bushcraft fishing rod. But there are definitely some easy and affordable alternatives that you can throw in with the rest of your gear so that you’re always prepared. Let’s take a look at some of the compact fishing rods that make for a great alternative to poles made from branches or sticks.

KA-BAR Backpack Kaster

We’re big fans of the KA-BAR Backpack Kaster, and have a sneaking suspicion that you will be as well. Staying true to the iconic design, the KA-BAR Kaster is both lightweight and durable. It has a hollowed out handle that is perfect for storing fishing line, hooks, and more. 

Collapsible Fishing Pole

While the bushcraft fishing rod is perfect for survival situations, there’s really no beating the utility and functionality of modern fishing poles. The only problem is that they are long, heavy, and take up too much valuable space. 

That’s where collapsible fishing rods come into play.

If you want to have the full fishing experience, we highly recommend bringing a compact collapsible fishing rod on your trip. It makes fishing both fun and easy, and you’ll have way more success when it comes to catching fish.

Final Thoughts on Bushcraft Rods

It’s hard to deny the value in learning how to build a bushcraft fishing rod. It doesn’t take much time, and takes the pain out of catching fish. If you don’t have any other viable alternatives with you, we definitely recommend using the more primitive fishing pole.

Brian Segal

As an outdoor enthusiast, I was drawn to bushcraft at a young age. I constantly find myself trying to learn and improve on my survival skills, and enjoy writing about everything I discover to help pass along to others.

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