Survival Fishing Kit: Worth the Time or Useless Gear?

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Last Updated on January 25, 2021

Imagine a gathering of 10,000 preppers at a convention somewhere in the heart of Las Vegas and at that convention, every single prepper had brought their own fully stocked bug out bag. The same bug out bags that each person had diligently packed using checklists gleaned from various prepping blogs, YouTube videos, and their own personal experience. I would bet that a high percentage of them, maybe 90% or greater would have one very simple piece of gear in there somewhere along with the fire-steel, water filters, a complete tackle box kit, emergency blankets, and survival knives. They would all have a survival fishing kit.

The survival tin, which is usually the container for the survival fishing kit is I think one of the most discussed pieces of gear in prepper circles. A quick search on YouTube finds well over 100,000 videos of preppers showing the contents of their tins, opening up the survival tins they receive from internet shopping, and discussing the range of life-saving implements they have been able to squirrel away in the confines of these small boxes.

I think the survival tin is so popular for a couple of reasons. They are really simple to make, just grab an assortment of items that you think can help you out if you are ever faced with some life or death survival scenarios. All you need, generally speaking, are items that many of us already have lying around our homes somewhere. I put the contents of a sample survival kit below.


A survival tin has an assortment of items that you think can help you out if you are ever faced with some life or death survival scenarios.

  • Rubber Band
  • Small flashlight
  • Waterproof matches
  • Leatherman Micra
  • Ziploc bag
  • Wire saw
  • Basic sewing kit
  • Tissues
  • Survival fishing kit
  • Safety pins
  • Mirror – for signaling
  • Pencils
  • Compass
  • Can opener
  • Emergency whistle
  • Small candle
  • Snare wire
  • Flint and tinder
  • Water purification tablets
  • Spare knife

Most of us can see the utility in having these items in our possession. The survival tin is designed to hold this potentially life-saving gear in a relatively compact form that is easy enough to slip in your pocket every day as you head out the door. This is a mandatory part of any prepper’s EDC gear and I agree that if you had this in your pocket and were dumped in the middle of nowhere, next to a river at 0 Dark 30, you would be much better off than someone who had nothing.

At least you could use the flashlight to see your way to using your flint and tinder to make a fire. Then you could take the survival fishing kit to catch a nice big trout for your sustenance. But for the rest of us who aren’t subjected to the life of a hypothetical Bear Grylls episode and aren’t dropped anywhere, does a survival fishing kit make much sense at all or is it wasting space in our bug out bags, backpacks, and pants pockets? Is it giving you a false hope for food that might never materialize?


A survival fishing kit doesn’t have to be complicated or take up too much space.

Does it make sense to have a survival fishing kit in your Bug out Bag?

I am not a big fish eater to be perfectly honest, but I grew up fishing with my friends in the neighborhood where we lived. In our area, we had two fairly decent sized lakes within a short walk through the woods. In these lakes, we caught plenty of bream, crappie, bass, and even a catfish or two. I completely understand the rationale behind having a way to catch fish as food and if you get lucky, a decent-sized fish or even several smaller fish could provide a nice meal which if you are starving, could save your life.

But fishing isn’t just as simple as throwing a hook into the water. Along with that survival fishing kit, you need the right bait, a good bit of luck, and a small amount of skill and patience. Come to think of it, a lot of hunting activities share those traits. I think that many preppers assume that if they only have that handy little survival fishing kit in their bags they will be bringing a feast back to the campsite with ease. This is yet another one of the myths that I think preppers believe about bugging out to the woods.

I think that having the ability to even try your hand at fishing during a survival situation is going to come down to several factors but the top two that come to mind are your location and your availability to fish. Are you bugging out where there are many lakes, ponds, or rivers with fish in them? Are you on the move? Can you stop and risk the exposure of fishing? Can you afford to alert others with fire and the smell of fresh fish cooking? How large is your group?

You might argue that the supplies you need for a good fishing kit are so small and insignificant when it comes to the weight that they are good to have anyway. I can buy that, but I think that some people are hanging their hopes on their perceived ability to put food on the blanket and simply having some hooks, weights, and fishing line in your survival tin doesn’t guarantee you will catch anything or even find a place to fish in the first place.

What goes into a good survival fishing kit?

The contents of a survival fishing kit are pretty basic and true to the survival tin idea, they don’t need to take up much space. Could you fashion your own hooks with a soda can tab or natural materials and leave the fishing kit at home? Sure but for the size and weight, I would rather have the real thing contained in a suitable piece of gear. Fishing line is hard to replicate in nature and it really doesn’t cost much at all to put these supplies together.

A good survival fishing kit should have at a minimum:

  • 50 ft. of sturdy mono-filament fishing line. 20lb test or higher will reduce the chance of it breaking. You can use a stick to wrap your line around similar to how a kite string works.
  • Assorted hooks for the fish in your area
  • Bobbers or you can use any material that will float like a piece of Styrofoam or wood.
  • Sinkers
  • Fishing lures or fake worms, whatever works best for your area. If you don’t know just ask the guy behind the counter at the place you are buying the fish hooks.

If you have fishing supplies at home, this should be easy to pull together or if you would rather buy a pre-built kit they have plenty of survival fishing kits online and most are less than the price of a meal out. Knowledge of basic knots that won’t come undone easily will help you here also. It would really suck to finally catch a nice fish only to have the hook come off the line as you are nearing shore and your dinner swims away into the deep.

So what is my answer to the question I posed at the beginning? I think because they are so compact and could give you the ability to catch fish if the right situation presented itself, a survival fishing kit makes a good addition to your bag. I would only expect to be able to use this in certain situations/locations though and not as a reliable source of food for survival.

It’s the same with snares and traps, they can catch game for you but you have to be incredibly lucky to have an animal wander through the woods to your trap in the first place so don’t bet the farm on these two methods unless you are already living remotely well before the collapse. These make good supplies to have in my opinion, but not realistic food gathering options unless you are extremely lucky in a bug-out scenario. Once the dust has settled and you are all living like nomads, then a good fishing kit would be a great idea.

What do you think?

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Freedom-loving American doing what I can to help prepare and inform others. Editor and creator of The Prepper Journal 2013-2017, 2020 -

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Its not very often that mine and Pat’s view points diverge on most rainy day topics. This is one of those times. I see a fishing setup (that I don’t currently have prepared) as an essential part of a bug out kit. Just like a rifle capable of taking down local/regionally available game, snares and fishing gear are purely means for procuring edibles. It matters not whether conditions at any given moment support fishing for food, it matters that you have the tool available when the situation presents itself. If you live in the desert, fishing might not be a… Read more »

Pat Henry

Thanks for your comments Bob and please know that I always welcome opposing views. I don’t know everything and can always learn new information, get a different perspective and even have my mind changed. That is one of the reasons I allow and welcome comments on this site for just that type of dialog. I want everyone to be able to join in on the conversation for any topic and thank you again for your thoughts.


Pat, I’m sure that 95% of those providing comment figured out a long time ago that most of your posts are written in a way to spur dialog.

Everyone has a different vision of how they would put food in front of their team. Hearing how others do it, or would do it exposes us to different thought processes, and hopefully expands a few minds along the way.


Pat, Just a few observations from a desert rat – for what they are worth: First, I have enjoyed high mountain lake fishing for trout for many years. There is, unquestionably, a certain skill required and it does not come without practice and patience. Second, the prospect of surviving based on one’s fishing skills requires that they first have access to a lake or stream that has fish. If you are so blessed with this access, more power to you (and please put lemon pepper on the ones you grill for me). Thirdly, it just doesn’t make sense to me… Read more »

Pat Henry

Good points Bolo. I wasn’t thinking about the other uses of fishing line, but you do make a good argument for bringing some along with you. At the end of the day I think a survival fishing kit shouldn’t be large enough to even worry about really and that is the point I tried to outline in my article. I would pack one considering where I live but like Bob said above, and what I was trying to convey is that I wouldn’t count on them for food. If I was able to fish, would I? Absolutely, but I was… Read more »

Thomas Paine in the butt

“…I need a pocket fisherman…help me Mr Popiel…” – Weird Al

A basic fishing kit can fit in a travel size aspirin bottle or the hilt of one of those tacticool survival knives, sarcasm intended. A proper rod and reel would make a good addition to the vehicle cache.

Pat Henry

Thomas you always seem to have the perfect song to go with these articles. I’m going to try to stump you on the next one….

David Benjamin Donoho

Once upon a time I was fishing (cast and reel) up in the mountains in a pond and happened to snag about five feet of line and a fly that someone else had previously lost. I am not an avid fisherman (all together I have maybe fished ten times in my 34 years). And I had never done any kind of fly fishing. But I got curious in this instance and I wrapped the end of the line around my pointer finger a few times and flipped the fly out about four feet from shore. I waited… and sure enough… Read more »

Pat Henry

Thanks for sharing your comments David and I think you are absolutely right. I came to the same conclusion in the article and hopefully that came across.

It sounds like you did have some luck that day. That’s the kind of story you tell around the campfire about how you caught a fish with nothing more than your finger and some line you fished off the bottom of the river.


Probably nobody is going to like this post…. I see “fishing” for survival in a BOB as not a very good idea, here is why. If your in a Bug-Out situation how are you going to have time to fish? How are you going to conceal yourself at the edge of a lake or river/stream and not be seen while trying to hook that Big-En? If one is “bugging-out” there will probably be 10,000 doing the same thing, fishing, I would think that any fishing hole would be more crowded than the 4th of July weekend. Now here is the… Read more »

Pat Henry

Thanks NRP,

Yes, this one generated a little more controversy if you can call it that than I was expecting, but that is a good thing. Everyone has a different opinion on what works for them and as it pertains to their experience and regional location who is to say who has the right idea? Again, one of the things I like is reading the conversations in the comments. Thanks for contributing!


Pat Henry

I received these great tips from a reader through my contact page, but wanted to share them with everyone here. ——————————————— In my eyes I am a pretty darn good fisherman, having caught fish everywhere from Outdoor Trade Shows in Ohio to Alaska. Today’s article and picture of ice fishing gear compelled me to offer a few suggestions: – First, I would recommend a “foam” bobbers vs. traditional red/white plastic bobbers. Why? Foam will not break if it hits a rock in/along a stream – Second, smaller hooks are a must and will catch big fish too. Big hooks make… Read more »

O.M. Knutson

Dear Pat, I know it is anecdotal, but from my 60 years of field experience I can tell you having a supply of fishing gear is more than worthwhile .. even in the desert! I have trimmed snares with a few treble hooks, set them around active small game borrows and snagged rabbit and other edible varmints. Once I even hooked a rattlesnake for dinner! When there are waterways close when you are lost or stranded, having a moderate supply of fishing tackle should be a no brainer. The truth is, fishing is easier and more productive hunting. Sure, you… Read more »


Thanks, Orrin. I couldn’t think of the right term for a trot line. Dropping 5-10 lines in the water, then retreating to cover, or just moving on with your day, then circling back in the afternoon would provide passive food procurement that runs akin to setting snares. There are no assurances of either making it happen, but you’ve increased your food procurement opportunities by at least a factor.

Pat Henry

Thank you very much for the comments Orrin and for reading the article. I agree that all things being considered, a small survival fishing kit does makes sense in your bug out bag.

northern raider

I long ago dumped the micro fishing kit in a tin ( line, weights, hooks etc) and packed my kit according the geography of where I was going. So when in NV or KS or AZ I see no point in carry fishing kit, but up to the north eastern US or back home in England where I have coastline, rivers, lakes, streams and ponds aplenty I now carry one of those telescopic one piece fishing rod kits complete with reel.

northern raider

FYI in the army we used to go fishing with firecrackers, bangers and thunder flashes in plastic bottles, the small explosive concussion stuns any near by and brings them to the surface.


What do you all think of assembling the spare parts needed to build a legit “Gilligan’s Island” fishing pole in the field as a bob item for a group? So I got thinking. I have a kid sized closed face reel in the garage. Would it make any sense to find a comparable small reel & short rod, remove the reel and eyelets, and pack them into a small pouch to attach to the side of the BOB? The thought for me is that with a bit of looking, I suppose I can find a decent sized tree limb between… Read more »


I’m not sure if it really makes sense for a BOB, as you can easily survive for 3 days without any food (at all) – shelter and water are higher priorities. That said, it sure is a nice to have … depending on what you are planning for (will you be on the run, will you be hunkering-down, will you be going to a stocked location, etc.), I think the value of it would be more as something to do (to stave off boredom) rather than as a viable means for providing food … and you might get lucky. If… Read more »

Mace Jordan

. the effectiveness of a survival fishing kit depends on ones knowledge of fishing. being here in the usa for instance. i know that the largemouth bass is found in every state other than alaska. because i live in the eastern united states. i know that the largemouth will be especially abundant. i also know that these fish are extremely adaptable,creeks,medium and large rivers, ponds,lakes etc, in terms of lakes and ponds they like to inhabit areas where there is ‘cover’ when they hunt for pray. tree stumps and logs,water lily pads, weed beds,edges. they like to stay near to… Read more »

Mace Jordan

people survived having only their brain for thousands of years.

Mace Jordan

have you ever looked up “survival knife” on google images. thats the kind of thing your seeing everywhere you look online virtually. only you may not even realize it. let me tell you something lol. commercial marketers will sell your soul! to make a buck..K? My “survival knife” is the ka-bar becker bk9 and a leatherman wave. with the bk9 there is no problem finding dry wood when its been raining all night. i can split +5 inch diameter logs (without a baton if i want). i can make a shelter easily. without any repetitive action to dull the blade.… Read more »

Mace Jordan

and one last thing,, in a ‘real’,survival situation. finding water is virtually “do or die”. that being said,,,ask yourself now my friend.. should you have a survival fishing kit in your bag?

Mace Jordan

….just one last thing to add to my last post… if you carry a bottle of alcohol for, a stove and disinfectant. you can collect some pine resin by scaring a few trees. and collect pine resin that is already present. using the alcohol as a solvent. you can dissolve the pine resin in the alcohol. now you have ten times as much fuel,a disinfectant that will stick to your wound having a long term effect,glue, and a way to make damp tinder go up like a prairie fire etc

k, just thought i would through all that out ther


Living in Ontario, Canada…i definitely would have a fishing kit and in a survival situation a gill net (against the law)

Mace Jordan

In a survival situation? a gill net is against the law huh lol

Algernon Sydney

Living in a region where I am never more than ten miles from a freshwater river, stream, lake or other body of water that has fish in it the survival fishing kit is my primary food getting resource. There are multiple game animals and animals that are edible though not generally hunted for sport. Being an avid hunter I’m very realistic about the chances of being able to survive just on hunted meat. As for plants there just aren’t that many that provide sustenance and those that do are very seasonal. With an emphasis on fishing I have a dozen… Read more »


I saw a neat documentary show on discovery about couples who live in Alaska off the grid. This one young couple needed to catch 200 pounds of salmon to last them the 8 long winter months. They took this huge net into a stream and scooped up 200 pounds of salmon in 15 minutes. Cool.comment image

I didn’t catch these. I bought them.


Mono filament line is a good choice if you are using a rod and reel, but it has a few problems for including in your survival kit or BOB. First of all, it has a bit of a memory, so if you have it compactly stored, it will not straighten out well. Second, it does not knot well; not a problem for fishing (if you know the right knots), but not as useful for other purposes. In a survival kit, braided lines overcomes these problems. So, even though I live in the desert, I would always have a fishing kit,… Read more »


The hooks and line can be used to catch small mammals and birds if you’re situation is that dire. It’s survival not camping. Better to have & not need than visa versa. Be prepared…


This is purely hypothetical coming from me, but with the right hook and line, would the kit be worth in absolutely every location, as it doubles as a means of emergency stitching, on clothes and pack for anyone, as medical suturing in the hands of someone qualified? I would think that in a life or death situation, it would be both the gear at hand and the resourcefulness of the person using it.

Wild Bill

I believe you are quite correct.

Terry K

Hello Mr. Henry, Being an avid reader of preparedness blogs, books and articles, I want to commend you on including something that is seldom mentioned, EXPOSURE. In a major bug out situation, or Teotwawki, exposure to two-legged predators is a major concern of mine. I harbor no delusions that in their minds, their family’s survival is more important than mine. That being said, when survival fishing, even the ‘kerplunck” of a well thrown sinker can be telegraphed in the wild. I always include a ‘hobo’ fishing kit that I can hand-cast at least 50 feet. I do not want to… Read more »

Wild Bill

Interesting. I just finished a book and am doing a review here on the site this week about Predators on Humans, the book is titled “4 Seconds to Impact” and it will be on here Friday or Saturday of this week. One to dispel the myth that bears are “cuddly” and wolfs are afraid of mankind. The realities of the human scent and human actions. When I was in Alaska I learned that the minute I was no longer in sight of a paved road I was NOT at the top of the food chain and in fact had a… Read more »

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