Alternative Fishing Methods When You Don’t Have A Rod And Reel

Alternative Fishing Methods

With fish feeding more people worldwide than any other protein source, it makes sense that it is also the top food that survivalists live on. Packed with protein and easier to catch than wild animals, fish can keep you fed in the wild.

If you are in a situation where you are stranded and needing to survive, chances are you do not have a fishing rod with you. So what do you do?


Here are some alternative fishing methods to help you survive …

Hand Lines

Some survivalists pack a hook, line, and sinker in their bug out bags. In this case, using your dominant hand, you’ll creating a circular whipping motion with the line as you throw the sinker out. If you didn’t bring a sinker, tie a rock to the end and if you didn’t have spool, use a bottle or piece of wood to wrap the line around, in order to prevent tangling. When you throw the sinker, turn your spool toward the direction you are throwing, so the line comes off easily. When you pull the line back in, re-spool the line, and repeat.

Trot Lines

With trot lines, you set the bait and come back to find your snared fish, if you did it right. It is done by stretching a 30 foot fishing line across a body of water, making loops in every 3 feet of line. Attach a 3 foot line to each loop, with a hook and sinker on the other end to allow it to sink to the bottom. Finally attack a hook to the line just below the surface to increase your catch on every depth level. Don’t forget to attach bait to all the hooks. Set this up at sunrise or sunset, and check on the line shortly after these times.


This is an active way to catch lots of fish at once.

  • Gill Net

Add weights to a grill net and drop vertically to the bottom of a body of water,  then wait. Any fish that are swimming through will get caught up in the net. Tie it  between two trees to keep it in place.

  • Throw Net

This net is thrown out over a body of water, and then spun to expand before it hits the water. As it sinks, fish get tangled in the net.

Jug Fishing

Using a large float or jug, tie it to a weight lined with a baited hook. Drop into a body of water, letting it sink to the bottom to catch some catfish. All you have to do is watch the floating bottle. When it begins moving, you’ve caught a fish. If you’ve attached a drag line, you can pull it to shore, or you can wade out and pull the line up. It is best to set up several of these in lakes or ponds to increase your catch.

Sapling Lines

Sapling Lines are similar to fishing rods, but there are no reels attached. The thick end is stuck into mud at the shore with a line attached at the other end tied to a baited hook. With this method, you will cast the line into the water the same way you cast a line out with a fishing rod. When the sapling rod begins to bend, you’ve got a catch. If you plan to walk away from your rod, you can attach a bell to alert you of a catch. Since you have no reel, you will be pulling in your fishing line by hand, so be sure to wear gloves.

Fish Traps

Setting fish traps is a good way to passively catch fish while doing other things.

  • Plastic Bottle
  1. Cut off the top of one bottle, just below where it tapers
  2. Place the top face down back into the bottle
  3. Reattach using fishing line and hook to sew it together
  4. Add bait to the bottom of the bottle
  5. Add a weight, like a rock to the bottom.

Place in shallow water, and fish that swim in for the bait will become trapped with no way out.

  • Poles Or Rocks

Pile rocks to create walls, or use poles that are dug into the bottom. Create the  shape of a heart with either the rocks or poles, leaving an opening at the cleavage. When the fish swim into the heart, they cannot find their way out.  When you have enough fish inside, throw some tall grass or vegetation on the fish and scoop everything out at once, tossing it onto shore.

You can either ….

  1. Wait for fish to swim in on their own
  2. Add bait to the middle of the heart
  3. Throw rocks into the water to scare them into swimming into the heart.


Any of these fishing methods should produce fish for you to eat and to sustain you in an emergency situation. Packing a fishing line in your bug out bag gives you many options for catching fish. Get creative and you’ll have dinner soon.


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