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How To Make A $10 Indestructible, Pocket-Sized Survival Fishing Kit

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When it comes to acquiring food in a survival scenario, I’d definitely pick fishing as one of my absolute favorites. And I say this for a few very good reasons, because quite frankly, I’d rather do less work, consume fewer calories, and spend less time in acquiring what I need in order to keep my core temperature at a happy, healthy 98.6 degrees.

So, how can fishing accommodate such criteria?  Well, I’m happy to divulge.

First, as opposed to hunting, trapping and foraging, fishing is easy and requires comparatively little know-how. I’ve seen 5-year-olds beat 45-year-olds in how many fish they’d caught for the day, which is not exactly something that could happen with really any other form of food procurement.

Second, you don’t need a gun, trap or guide book. In fact, you don’t even need to pack in a fishing pole, because nature has provided plenty of them (and they’re most likely scattered in and around your camp).

Third, you won’t be burning through tons of energy. Sure, you might have to wander along the shoreline for a bit before picking a spot that works, but once you’ve found a promising fishing hole, then all you’ve got to do is pop a squat, drop the line and watch the bobber. Hey, if I could reel in a groundhog with a hook and a worm, then I’d be doing that all day instead.

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Since that just isn’t going to happen, I’ll just stick with dropping my line in the lake. And here’s a $10 DIY fishing kit that you can use, which won’t even take up space in your pack, since you can stash it in your cargo pants pocket.

1. Creating the Container

The first step is to purchase (or find) a section of 1.5 inch schedule-40 PVC pipe. Once acquired, then you’ll want to chop it down to about 4-6 inches in length, depending on the size of your particular pocket, of course. Next, you’ll want to grab the following 1.5 inch fittings that correspond with your schedule-40 PVC pipe…

  • Male threaded coupler
  • Female threaded cap
  • Socket cap
  • Waterproof PVC glue

After that, then you simply need to get the unit (mostly) assembled. Just follow these steps…

  1. Glue male threaded coupler to top.
  2. Glue socket cap to bottom.
  3. Add threaded female cap to top.

If you’re not all that thrilled about the PVC pipe-white with the gibberish along the side that’s reminiscent of a construction site, then simply purchase a can or two of camo or blaze orange spray paint. Then, apply desired paint job, and now we’re ready to move forward to step two.

2. Attach a ‘Reel’ Cleat

One of THE MOST annoying issues that I’ve had with these types of fishing kits is that they taught me the true reason why they invented fishing reels in the first place: keeping all that monofilament untangled and squared away, while storing it in an easy position to unwind, is a very, very “reel” pain.

So, I’ve found that using a boating cleat tends to work wonders, because it not only gives you a place to keep the fishing line in an accessible spot on the unit, but it also does an OK job at preventing bird nests. Simply select one that’s small enough to fit on the side of your container, while also big enough to support your desired yardage of monofilament. Now, here’s how we attach our cleat to the PVC fishing kit container…

  1. Pre-drill small diameter pilot holes into PVC pipe.
  2. Apply pipe dope or Teflon tape to the properly sized screws (or the ones that came with your cleat. Just make sure that they’re not too long). This retains the unit’s waterproofing.
  3. Fasten the cleat to your fishing kit by threading the screws into the pre-drilled holes.

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Once that’s done, all that’s left to do is for us to get our fishing kit stocked with the essentials.

3. Stock It With Yer Fishin’ Stuff

This is one part of our DIY kit that I would have to say, there really isn’t a “right” or “wrong” list of items or quantities to put inside it. However, this list might be able to start you off with an idea on what you’ll need …

  • At least 100 yards of monofilament
  • Assorted hooks
  • Assorted weights
  • Small bobbers
  • Small “scissor-style” tweezers
  • Jigs
  • Freshwater lures
  • Safety pins

Yes, I said “safety pins,” and there’s a reason for this.  It’s because we want to make this kit “makeshift fishing pole” compatible.

fishing lure -- cbsminnesota4. Attach Rod. Get Fishing.

Granted, this system will NOT work nearly as well as your rod-n’-reel from Cabela’s; however, it will still work better than most other improvised, lightweight systems that I’ve tried. All you need to do is to wind your monofilament around your boating cleat, and make sure that it’s tied down and not able to suddenly unwind in your pocket. Now, here’s how we get your kit ready to fish…

  • First, you’ll want to take your 550 paracord (or even duct tape), and lash it to a 4-5 foot long stick that you’re sure will be strong enough to support the weight of the largest fish that could possibly be swimming by your selected fishing spot.
  • Second, drive the sharp points of two safety pins into the stick, at halfway, and on the very end. Make sure that they’re sticking out on the same side of the pole as where your reel is fixed. Where the safety pin’s wire forms a circle, is where you thread your monofilament.
  • Third, attach your tackle (hook, jig, bobber, weights, lures, etc.) to the end of the line, and you’re ready to go.


For when you want to cast, what I’d do is pinch the line at the point where you’ve got about a foot from your bobber to the end of the pole.

The tricky part (and where you gain a sudden appreciation for manufactured fishing reels) is that you’ll need to unwind the fishing line from your cleat, a bit like you would do for fly fishing.  You’ll need to be super careful in these moments, because this is going to be a very high-chance moment of getting your line into a knotted bird’s nest.  But once you have enough line, dangling below your reel, then give a cast and release the line from your pinch.

In order to reel it in, simply wind the fishing line around your cleat and repeat until you’ve hooked a beauty … say, a catfish, largemouth bass, or something small that could be bait for your traps or trotline setup.

Not bad, for something under $10 that fits in a pocket.

What “survival fishing advice” would you add? Share it in the section below:

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