Improvised Fishing Techniques for tough times

Improvised Fishing Techniques

If you find yourself in a jam and you need to catch a fish, there are ways to do it without relying on your $1000 fishing rod. The improvised fishing techniques listed in this article will cost you nothing and are all feasible options when you lack the proper fishing tools.   

I have a lot of friends that are spending outrageous amounts of money on fishing gear and anything else that would make them expert fishermen. Since I’m interested more about how the pioneers did it without having to benefit of the new technologies I’ve decided to write about the main improvised fishing techniques one can use when things get rough. If you want to be prepared for the unexpected, you must assume that you won’t always have access to your fishing gear. You would need to use low-tech ways of catching a fish and once again, improvisation is the key.

Five improvised fishing techniques that actually work:

  1. Improvised fishing starts with an improvised hook

Improvised fishing hooksThis is probably the most basic form of fishing and you can tie your fishing line to all sorts of improvised fishing hooks. While some people prefer to use a safety pin tied with a regular fisherman’s tie to the fishing line as the main fishing method, there are other ways as well. You can improvise a fishing hook from various items and even a bent paper clip, a modified soda can top and a bent thorn on a branch can work. Once you manage to improvise your fishing hook and tie it properly to your fishing line, the waiting game begins. Throw your line with bait into the water, wrap your end of the line around your hand and arm yourself with patience. You might have some hard time when your hook is floating on the surface and fish might not bite as usual. To avoid this, you would need to attach some weight to your line and even a penny can work if you tape it near the end of your line, close to the hook. This method is not recommended for deep-sea fishing because if a large fish bites, you can lose your hook and the fish or in a worst case scenario, the fish can pull you into the water.

  1. Bucket fishing, improvised fishing learned from the pioneers

This is one of the simplest ways of fishing and it was a method used in the old days by the early pioneers. While it has some obstacles you need to overcome, it actually works if you know what you are doing. Convincing the fish to get into the bucket may seem hard at first, but there are cavernous seeking creatures that will have a hard time realizing that your buckets are not natural formations. Setting two buckets in shallow water can attract a lot of them, especially if you set some bait in each bucket. The main problem arises when you need to collect the fish and stepping into the water will alert the fish of your presence. You have two options to get your fish when using buckets as improvised fishing. The first option would be to actually step into the water and stand above the buckets before the fish enter it. However, this can take hours and you need to have patience and stand still if you need to snatch them up. The second option that doesn’t require stability and patience as the first one requires seeking out a pond or lake that is shallow near the bank, but becomes deep just a few feet into the water. You can set your buckets next to the shore and wait for the fish to come. Once they swim into the buckets you can pick them up without having to wade into the water.


  1. Nothing says improvised fishing like bottle fishing

This is one of the simplest methods of catching a fish when lacking the proper tools and I’ve seen it presented at various survival schools. You will need an empty bottle or jug that is built stronger than your average bottles (it shouldn’t bend easily). If you use a water bottle, use a 16 ounce bottle at minimum. You need to saw the top of the bottle off and that’s when you will discover how sturdy your bottle is. Set the top aside for the next improvised fishing method and place some bait in the end part of the bottle.  Preferably, you should use bait that is artificial or dead, so that it doesn’t swim away when you set the bottle in the water. Tie fishing line to the bottle so that when you hold the fishing line in the air, the bottle hangs from the line with the opening facing up. Go to your fishing spot and set the bottle in the water. The rest is just usual business and you need to pay attention when fish is entering the bottle because you have to immediately yank any fish out of the bottle.

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  1. Funnel fishing, the most passive way of improvised fishing

This is the most used method when it comes to survival fishing and although it works great, it has its down side. With this method you can get only tiny fish such as sardines or guppies. Just like you did for bottle fishing, cut the top part of the bottle, but this time push the cut-off part of the bottle, upside down, into the bottom part until it’s completely secure. You can even use live bait because it can escape from the bottle. Once you have your funnel fishing ready, you can set it into the water and hold it in place with a couple of rocks.  Check back on it a few hours later to see if you’ve caught something. The fish won’t be able to escape once they enter the bottle.

  1. Improvised fishing works better if you can set traps

Improvised fish trapWhile the previous methods may require most of your attention and concentration, time may be of the essence during a survival situation. This is why most survival experts recommend setting multiple fishing traps that would help you save time and provide you the luxury of dealing with various other tasks without having to guard your fishing lines. There are many ways to trap fish and the most used methods are improvised fish baskets and pool or shore traps. You can use natural rock pools, sand banks or any other natural features that the environment provides. Regardless of how you built your trap, the water needs to be able to flow through the materials used and you need to adjust the holes so that they are small enough to trap the fish.

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  1. Fishing by hand, improvised fishing for the experts

water2This method is also known as noodling and even though it’s considered fun by all those who practice it, you should know that there are some risks involved. While this method is usually used for catching catfish, you should try noodling only when you know your region well enough. You should be certain that there aren’t any reptiles and amphibians in your waters that can become a danger if disturbed. The last thing you want is to be bitten by a snapping turtle or copperhead snake. Take precautions and research which aquatic animals are living you’re your area before trying noodling. Those who practice this fishing method recommend not showering for a few days in order to preserve your body smell. This will make the fish more comfortable swimming around you. Some recommend wearing just a pair of swim shorts and a pair of boots to be able to move freely. When it comes to noodling, this improvised fishing technique provides you with two options: you either go where the fish are or you wait for the fish to come to you. If you want to go to where the fish are, you basically need to find a catfish hole and stick your arm in it, hoping for the catfish to bite down on your arm. Once it has clamped down on your arm, you need to pull your arm out, hold down on the catfish and throw it on the shore or in your boat. If you want to wait for the fish to come to you, once again, you will need to arm yourself with patience. You have to reach down the water and grab the fish when it comes near you, but this can become a challenge. You won’t succeed on your first try, but you will eventually catch a fish if you keep going at it. Some experienced noodlers also recommend spreading bait around you in order to attract the fish, while others suggest shaping your hands into a cup and placing some bait inside them. You will need to wait for the fish to swim right into the palms on your hands and if you are quick enough you can grab to him and toss it out of the water.

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The improvised fishing techniques listed in this article may sound easy enough for some of the readers, but I assure they are a real challenge. You won’t succeed at first, but if you persevere you will feel even more fulfilled when eating your fish dinner and knowing it was all possible without using a rod or any other high-tech gear. We should always remember that improvised fishing was the way of the pioneers and they managed to eat plentifully and healthily without using complex fishing gear.

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