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When an emergency strikes, it doesn’t always look like you think it will. Maybe it’s an early winter day and you don’t notice ice forming on the backroad you’re driving. Maybe you’re hunting in the spring and get turned around and can’t get out of the woods before dark. Or maybe SHTF and everyone you encounter is in survival mode. Although a survival fishing kit may not seem that important when you prepare these activities, it can save your life in all of them.
Having an emergency fishing kit when you’re lost in the woods, stranded away from civilization, can be the difference between going to bed hungry or having the energy to make it one more mile. And if something drastic happens and it’s TEOTWAWKI, then having the supplies and knowhow to fish can provide enough nourishment to keep you and your family alive for the foreseeable future.
That’s why it’s as important as ever to purchase or build your survival fishing kit and have it with you when you’re away from home. In this guide, we cover the best fishing kits for survival situations and help you determine what you need in your life and your bug out bag. And your car. And maybe even in your wallet.
Our Reviews of the Best Survival Fishing Kits
Vigilant Trails Pocket-Survival Fishing Kit-Stage 3
One important thing to always remember about survival in an emergency situation is that you must develop the skills before you’re in a survival scenario. If you’ve never practiced survival fishing, you may very well struggle in a real SHTF situation.
Uncle Flints Survival Fishing Kit
While this survival fishing kit doesn’t contain a reel or pole, you can make a survival fishing pole with a sapling, just be sure to attach the string at the base of the wood, not the top. This makes it less likely the pole will snap and more likely that you’ll catch dinner.
Pocket Reel Camping Survival Emergency Bug Out Bag Fishing Kit
My favorite thing about this compact survival fishing kit is that it gives you just enough without overdoing it. For the basic survivalist, this is just about all you need for SHTF fishing gear.
Stanford Outdoor Supply Fishing and Hunting B.O.S.S.- Bug Out Bag Survival Kit
With its 300 feet plus of fishing line, along with the fact that it includes salmon eggs while most survival fishing kits contain only lures, this one is a keeper. Sure it may contain a few things you may never use, but those same things could end up more beneficial than you ever thought possible.
Why You Need a Survival Fishing Kit
It doesn’t matter if you’re a survivalist, a prepper, or just a person packing up to spend a weekend camping in the woods, it never hurts to have a survival fishing kit on you. While your mind’s image of a survival situation may include zombies, TEOTWAWKI, or a sudden apocalypse, there’s a good chance that’s not how it will go down.
More likely, your survival gear will come in handy when your car breaks down in a rural area and your cell phone is dead. Or you get lost while hunting. Or when aliens invade Earth. And when these situations occur, you may or may not have a full bug out bag available and even a small emergency kit can make the difference between going hungry or going to bed with a full stomach.
And sure, you can go hunting or trapping, but if you can find a body of water with fish, chances are you’ll have much better luck getting a bite than you will harvesting a hare or coyote. Especially if you aren’t exactly skilled in those survival sets.
Survival Fishing Kit Contents
As you can see from the above reviews, survival fishing kits come with a variety of items that differ from brand to brand and kit to kit. So what do you really need in your survival kit? And what items aren’t worth the space they take up?
When it comes to fishing for survival, there are basic items you need and some items you don’t need, but sure are nice to have on hand. Let’s start with the basics. What you need to have to catch fish is pretty simple. At a minimum, you need a hook and a line, but with just those, the average person will likely still struggle to catch dinner.
That means your basic survival fishing kit should include:
- Hooks in various sizes
- Braided fishing line
- Fishing lures
- Foam or cork bobbers
- Multi-tool or survival knife
In addition to these fundamental fishing supplies, you can add some additional pieces to your survival kit for fishing, increasing your chance of catching a fish and making the process easier. Consider adding:
- Yo-yo fishing reel
- Circle hooks
- Split shot
- Snare wire
- Spear point
- Gill net
- Fishing clips
- Telescoping fishing rod
Now, whether you’re purchasing a survival fishing kit or building your own, you want to make sure you not only have the right equipment and tools, you also want to make sure you have enough of them without weighing yourself down with unnecessary supplies you’ll never need or use.
When it comes to hooks, an ideal fishing kit will have multiple hooks in various sizes. You need extra because some will get lost and others will rust out. If you can only hold a few, opt for a smaller size as, in the long run, they’ll be more effective than larger hooks. Make this determination based on the fish in the area you’ll be.
Fishing line is another item in your survival kit that’s important to examine before you must rely on it to catch dinner. Many retail survival fishing kits contain lightweight monofilament line that won’t hold up for a good sized fish or last over time. If your kit contains this style of fishing line, replace it with at least 50 feet of braided line in a strength between 10 and 20 pounds. The braided line lasts longer and doesn’t gain as much memory as the monofilament.
If you’d like to include lures in your kit, make sure they’re appropriate for your area of the country and the type of fish you’re likely to come across in a survival situation.
Lastly, there’s the issue of bait. While lures and jigs can and do work, live bait can also be enticing to our finned friends. Salmon eggs have a long shelf life and if you have space, a jar of them may be a good addition to your kit. You can also search for live bait by looking for worms and insects under rocks and decaying trees and leaves. Small pieces of whatever you’re eating can also be used and I’ve heard that many fish like to snack on pork rinds.
What Makes a Good Emergency Survival Fishing Kit?
While there are plenty of good survival kits out there, the best often share similar features. A good survival fishing kit is compact and lightweight. It can house all the equipment and tools you need without taking up your entire bug out bag. A good kit has high quality, durable items that won’t break on your or wear out after one use. It also comes in a container that is water resistant and won’t break if dropped on a hard surface.
Good survival fishing kits also contain tools that are ready to go. Sure you can craft a bone hook and strip down a sapling to fashion a fishing pole, but it is way more effective, let alone quick and easy, to simply have line, hook, and sinker readily available then waste the energy and effort of finding and making what you need.
But, by far, the best survival fishing kit is the one you know how to use. A fishing kit, no matter how elaborate or highly recommended, is only as good as the person using it. So regardless of what kind of survival fishing kit you purchase or make, ensure you know what each and every piece does and how it’s used before you put in your vehicle, backpack, or bug out bag.
DIY Survival Fishing Kit: How to Make One Yourself
As previously mentioned, there are plenty of sufficient survival fishing kits on the market, many at an affordable price, but depending on your own personal preferences, it may make sense for you to build your own kit from scratch.
If you want to build your own DIY fishing kit, here’s how to start. First, you need to find the right container, something small enough that it fits in your pocket but large enough to hold everything you need without issue. Ideally, it would be waterproof and rugged so that it doesn’t change shape or crush if it’s dropped or sat on. Think more of an Altoids container than a Ziploc baggie.
Now that you have a container, it’s time to start packing it with what you need. It’s best to start with hooks. In truth, the more hooks the better. As mentioned above, if you need your survival fishing kit for more than a day or two, you will lose hooks. A line may snag and break. A fish may steal one. They fall off when you try to tie them to your line or, eventually, they’ll rust out. So pack more than one. At least six, but if you have the room, it doesn’t hurt to throw in a few more.
You also want to include a variety of hook sizes. The size of your hook often determines the size of the fish you can catch, so include multiple sizes in your survival fishing kit. If you can only include a few, opt for the small hooks as not all waterways have large fish. You may also want to research the type of fish in your area and pack your survival kit accordingly.
After you add hooks, include a half dozen sinkers and a few lures. Opt for lures that work best in your area or the area you’ll be traveling in. If you’d like, throw in a small piece of cork or styrofoam to use as a bobber.
And, now, you need fishing line. At least 50 feet of braided fishing line is ideal. Don’t go with a lightweight line, instead choosing something between 10-20 pounds in strength. Depending on the size of your fishing kit, you may want to leave the line as you purchase it. If that’s not an option, you can wind the line around a small object. Sewing bobbins work well, as does a small, hourglass-shaped piece of a playing card. You can even wind it around a needle, nail, or pencil.
In addition to these necessary items, you may want to add any of the following to your DIY survival fishing kit:
- Yo-yo hand reel: Often made from plastic, a hand reel is a simple non-mechanical spool that allows you to fish with any line, lure, or hook without a traditional rod and reel
- Telescoping fishing pole: While a fishing pole isn’t necessary, they sure do make life easy, and with the minimal space a telescoping rod takes, it may be worth it to add it to your kit
- Gill net: A passive way to catch fish, a gill net uses vertical netting to trap fish by their gills; although it is an effective way to fish, it is not legal across the United States and should only be used in a true survival situation
- Circle hooks: Circle hooks make fishing a little easier, as they set themselves and often catch the fish in the corner of the mouth, reducing the risk of swallowing the hook
- Multitool (unless you always carry one on you)
- Sharp spearhead or knife
If you’re someone who likes to be prepared, then you need a survival fishing kit not just for if SHTF or TEOTWAWKI, but in case of an emergency, from getting lost in the woods to having your car break down at an inopportune time. It doesn’t matter if you purchase one or if you make your own, a simple and small kit is enough to help you find the food you need when you’re in a jam.
So get yourself a survival fishing kit, whether you opt for one of those I reviewed above or decide to make your own. But don’t just get your hands on one. Practice with it. That way, when you really need it, you already know exactly what to do and don’t have to turn your emergency situation into a learning experience. Thanks for reading!