survival fishing kit

How to Build a Survival Fishing Kit that You Can Depend On

In just about every Bug Out Bag discussion group, you’ll hear people talking about their survival fishing kits. 

The idea is that these little DIY fishing kits will be able to provide them with food during a disaster scenario.  

These can be great, but you’ve got to be realistic.  Unless you are MacGyver, some twine and a safety pin probably aren't going to catch you many fish!

Why Are Survival Fishing Kits So Popular?

I get why survival fishing kits are so popular with preppers and outdoor survivalists.  The idea of eating delicious fish while the masses starve is pretty appealing. 

Plus, fishing kits have the benefit of being:

  • Small and lightweight
  • Easy to make
  • Cheap
Cosmonaut survival kit

Cosmonaut survival kits included fishing supplies

But Are Survival Fishing Kits Really Worth It?

Before you get caught up in the romantic idea of fishing while the rest of the world scrambles for food, let’s discuss the practicality of fishing in SHTF scenario.

Even in ideal circumstances, fishing isn’t always easy.  In a disaster situation, fishing has even more downsides that make it impractical for survival:

  • Fish has to be cooked, which means a fire and risk of exposing yourself.
  • Fishing takes a lot of time, which you won’t have if you need to evacuate.
  • Water could be contaminated, which means the fish won’t be safe to eat.
  • Not all bodies of water have lots of fish.
  • Improvised survival fishing kits don't always work very well!

Having said all that, it is still worth your while getting the basics of fishing down now. The more options you have in a SHTF situation the better. 

I will go into some alternative ways to get survival food later, but for now lets dive into the fishing checklist.  

Survival Fishing Kit Checklist

military survival fishing training

There are a lot of ways you can improvise your own survival fishing kit.  For example, you can make your own fishing hooks from soda can tabs or safety pins.  

You can make your own fishing line out of torn clothing or dental floss.

But these improvised materials are likely to fail on you! 

If your survival plan includes fishing for food, then you need to have some better, more reliable supplies.

Here's a list of what you need to include.

1. 50 feet of fishing line

At least 50 feet of monofilament fishing line is needed, tested to 10 to 20lb strength. You'll need to coil the line so it fits in your survival kit.  

A lot of survivalists make small coils by wrapping the line around a pencil. However, this will make your line kink up. Ever try to cast your line when it is all coiled and tangled?  

A better solution is to make the biggest loop practical.  Maybe even wrap it around your water bottle.

2. Hooks of Various Sizes

One of the biggest flaws I see in survival fishing kits is that they only include one size of hook.  Often times, these hooks are very large.

Ideally, you know where you will be bugging out and what types of fish live there. Then you choose hooks suited for those fish.  

If you aren't sure what types of fish will be available, choose small hooks.  Large fish can bite small hooks, but small fish can't bite large hooks.  So, you increase your chances of getting a meal with small hooks.

While serious fishermen don't like them, bait keeper hooks are great since you’ll likely be using worms as your bait.

3. Bobbers

These are optional but make it easier to find your line.

Bobbers are also good to have if you aren’t sure if you are getting bites or not.

Slip bobbers are great for regulating how deep your line goes into the water. 

Of course, anything that floats -- such as piece of cork or Styrofoam -- will work in a pinch.

4. Sinkers/Weights

You'll need these to get your bait deep enough and also to help with casting the line. 

They easily get lost, so bring at least 4-5 of them.  Some recommend up to 12 sinkers in your survival fishing kit.

5. Swivels

When improvising a fishing pole, you can expect your line to get kinked.  Swivels will prevent this and save you a lot of frustration.

6. Fishing lures

In a SHTF situation, time is of the essence. 

You can't sit around all day just "hoping" that you'll get a bite.  

A lure will help you catch fish much faster, so is worth putting in your survival fishing kit.

7. Bait

This is also optional since you can find insects or worms to use as bait.

However, it can definitely help to have some fake worms or fish to use as bait.

Some survival fishing kits even include salmon eggs, though you'd use these up quickly so I don't really think it is worth packing.

8. Reel

In a pinch, you can make a fishing pole out of a stick. 

However, it obviously is a lot better to have a reel.  The video below shows how you can use a yo-yo reel for fishing.  

The technique is worth learning if you will be fishing while bugging out. It means you can rig your lines up and then carry on with other tasks around camp while you wait for some bites.  

You can buy a pack of these Yo-Yo Reels on Amazon, they make a lot of sense in a SHTF situation.

In addition to the fishing supplies above, your need to have:

  • Good survival knife (see these best survival knives)
  • Knowledge of how to fish in the area you will be in (lakes vs. streams vs. rivers vs. ocean)
  • Ability to tie fishing knots.  You might want to pack a cheat sheet like this one.

Readymade Survival Fishing Kits

If you don't feel like putting together your own kit, you can buy survival fishing kits online. 

Some are really low-quality, but these two that I've found contain quality supplies and everything you'll need to catch a fish.

Recommended Kit

 Outcast Survival Fishing Kit 

This fishing kit contains:

  • 50ft of fishing line
  • 6 hooks of various sizes
  •  2 1/16oz jig heads
  • 6 reusable split shots
  • 2 toothpick bobbers
  •  One swirl tail grub plastic lure
  • Powerbait fish nibbles
  • A foam fishing line spool

 Best Glide ASE Survival Fishing Kit 

This kit gives you a bit more variety than the one above.

  • Fishing lures
  • Salmon eggs
  • Flies
  • Bobber
  • Fishing spoon
  • Various hooks
  • Leaders
  • Weights
  • Fishing lines​
  • Razor knife 
  •  mini guide 


Before you build your survival fishing kit (and think you will be set for food if SHTF), consider the other survival food options. 

Some of these might be much better options in terms of reliability and feasibility during a disaster.

Fish Traps

plastic bottle fish trap

Compared to fishing, fish traps don’t require much time.  You just set it and forget it. 

You’ll also be able to catch food like frogs with fish traps, which might be more plentiful around ponds and marshy areas. See survival fish traps here.



I encourage all survivalists and preppers to learn edible plants in their area.  You’d be surprised how many plants there are that you can eat. 

True, they might not be as tasty as fish, but they can be picked as you walk to safety.

Recommended Reading: How To Eat Acorns

Eating Insects

roasted grasshopper

I know that a lot of people are grossed out by the idea of eating insects, but there are a lot of reasons why insects make the best survival food:

  • They are abundant
  • Insects are easy to catch using traps or simply by digging them up
  • Almost all insects are edible
  • Insects are a great source of protein and fat

Just remember that insects should be cooked before being eaten (forget those stupid survival TV shows where people eat live insects). 

Read about how to prepare insects for eating here.

The Bottom Line?

Since survival fishing kits are small and lightweight, they are worth packing in  your Bug Out Bag.

Just don’t think you can rely on fishing as your sole source of survival food!  

Increase your knowledge of wild edibles, insect trapping, and other methods of obtaining survival food and you will be much more secure if SHTF.

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