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How to Make a Homemade Survival Fishing Kit

Updated on January 8, 2013
Cutthroat trout, like the one seen here, are common in many alpine and back-country lakes
Cutthroat trout, like the one seen here, are common in many alpine and back-country lakes

A well prepared basic fishing kit can be an invaluable tool in a survival situation. While its true that it is by no means necessary, the benefits go far beyond the obvious. For one, it can be used to catch fish (duh!). Even though chowing down on leaves and maggots might sound fun now, (or maybe it doesn't), when the time comes I think all of us would rather have a fish to fry. Not only will it taste much better, the sense of accomplishment will be a large moral boost. Along the same lines, the fishing kit will provide a distraction from the situation at hand. Survival is about staying busy and staying motivated, and the kit will definitely help in that respect.

While you could go out and buy a pre-packed kit and save some effort, I find much of the gear in these to be sub-par in quality. With that said, here is what I would suggest in your own homemade kit.


I'd go with 6 lb and 12 lb test. How much? As you have room for a suppose. Lines break and its one you can really do without. And now what kind you ask? Well for any of you Field and Stream readers out there you might be familiar with Bill Heavey's rant on fishing line types. One of my favorites by him. But to answer the question, no need to go with anything fancier than monofiliment. My favorites are probably all by Berkley, I use Stren for mono and Fireline for braid (I wouldn't suggest packing braided line). Its always worked great for me, I'm sure you've got your own favorite.

The is probably also the one item on the list that should be replaced every now and then. Line degrades over time and can get brittle if stored under poor conditions.


I would carry a few different sizes, #6s, #8s, and #10s should do fine for most trout species. I know there is a lot of hoopla over barbless hooks, but in this situation I'd leave them on, you're going to need all the help you can get. Additionally, I would carry at least a couple treble hooks, in any of the above listed sizes. Additionally, a hook sharpener will be a great way to bring new life back to dull hooks in the field. Fishing with dull hooks is very ineffective.

The Mepps Aglia, a definite classic
The Mepps Aglia, a definite classic


These are for the most part restricted to river and stream fishing as the flow is necessary to keep the blade moving. In calm water, these will prove much more difficult without a rod and reel. Usually I prefer heavier bodied spinners, but without rod and reel the lighter spinners can be easier to control in streams and rivers. Mepps has a spinner for just about every job. I would carry at least one with a silver blade and one with a gold. There is a lot more that goes into lure color selection but this is survival, not tournament fishing.


Some people prefer these over spinners, I don't. If you do go ahead and trade out one for the other, or have a few of both. If I was to take spoons, I'd probably reach for Dick Nites or Little Cleos. Its up to you.

Snap Shots

Probably the easiest method of adding weight to your line. These can be pinched on and off to quickly adjust your line weight without constantly retying your knots. This will help in casting and anchoring your line to the bottom of the lake or stream. I would recommend a variety of sizes to allow for different water conditions. 


This is one that might not be included in all kits, but i find they can be used very effectively. There are so many different flies you can choose from and it might be a little intimidating. Many flies are more or less effective on a similar basis, certain flies just wont be appealing when fished in certain months. Instead of packing a fly for every insect hatch in your area, stick with year-round flies. My favorite? You can't go wrong with Wooly Buggers. It's a great trout attractor in most any season. In fact, most all freshwater fish will make a pass at one. Black, brown and olive are all effective patterns.

Jig Heads

Jigs are a very versatile when it come to fishing techniques. They can be baited with either natural or artificial baits. They can be bounced, drifted, or suspended under a bobber. The weight on the jig head eliminates the need for extra weight on the line, simplifying the setup. Jigs are used to catch just about all species of fish making them a great go-to lure. As with everything else, carry a few different sizes. For trout, a would suggest sizes between 1/32 oz and 1/8 oz.

Artificial Baits

Live bait beats fake bait just about any day, but sometimes live bait won't be readily available. In this situation, an artificial trailer on a jig or even spinner (I don't advise adding trailers to spoons, it can alter the action) will increase the lures appeal. Curly tail grubs and tubes are two favorites. My favorite artificial bait is probably Berkley Gulp!. Gulp baits have caught me countless fish from ice fishing to salt water bottom fishing. The only caution i would give you is that they tend to dry out after they are opened.

In particular the Honey Worms (yea I know its not technically Gulp) cannot come more highly regarded. Go ahead and read some other reviews. They are truly amazing (and won't dry out).


Personally, I prefer the slip float style for most of my fishing, but you can't beat the simplicity of a classic clip on bobber. Again, a few sizes. The idea is to have just enough flotation to keep the bobber above the water. Trout can be pretty wary at times, and if the bobber is too large, the trout can feel the resistance and tend to pass the bait by. Bobbers can be used to suspend jigs, baited hooks, or even flies. 

Very Large Treble Hook

This is one you wont find in many, if any, fishing kits. The idea here is use it not as a hook, but rather to bend one of the three hooks to point straight away from the eye of the hook. This then can be lashed to another stick to make a fish spear/gaff much more effective than anything you can widdle from a sappling. The result will be sturdy, sharp, and barbed. Whether it is used for landing large fish or simply spearing them in shallow water, you'll be glad you had it. On this one, the bigger the better, of course space is an issue so find a happy medium.


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