Make a fishing limb line or jug line float from a foam noodle, a couple of washers and some PVC pipe.
It's spring time, the ice is finally gone from the lakes and ponds and it's time for some fishing. When I was a kid, my grandfather and I used to set trot lines and limb lines along the banks of local rivers and lakes in the pursuit of big catfish. The floats for these lines were normally old plastic milk jugs or bleach bottles. This is an updated version of that tried and true fishing tackle.
Step 1: Gather Your Material & Tools
You'll need the following:
1 Foam Pool Noodle Hacksaw
10' Stick of 1/2" PVC Pipe Hammer
2 PVC Caps Punch
PVC Glue & Primer Sharp Knife
2 Galvanized Washers- 7/8" Tape Measure
2 #8 Swivel Snaps Electric Drill
1 #8/0 Fish Hook 1/4" Drill Bit
90 Lb Test Nylon Fishing Line Marker or Pen/Pencil
Step 2: Material Selection
The noodles I had on hand were left over from summers past. They had a hole of approximately 3/4" in diameter down the length of the tube. Therefore,1/2" PVC was the best fit. Different noodles may have different diameter holes in the tube. You will have to match the PVC piping to the hole in your noodle and the washers to the pipe. As in most projects, you'll have to adapt to the available materials.
Step 3: Measure & Cut Your Noodle
The foam noodle cuts very easily with a sharp kitchen knife. The noodles I had were 60" long. So I cut them into four 15" sections. The dimension was determined more by the length of the noodle than by any floatation or buoyancy calculation.
Step 4: Measure & Cut the PVC Pipe
Measure & cut your PVC so it will protrude beyond the ends of the noodle section with enough exposed pipe to allow installation of the washers and caps. I cut mine in 18" sections and it worked out fine.
Step 5: Drill Holes in the Washers
Use the hammer and punch to mark the hole location in the washer. The "dent" left by the punch will help keep the drill bit from skating on the washer when you start the drill. I used my drill press to drill the hole in the washer. For safety, I secured the washer to a 1"x6"x12" piece of scrap lumber with 2 flat head screws. I then secured the board to the drill press table with two C-clamps. You could just as easily lock the washer in a vise and use a hand drill. I used a 1/4" drill bit, but just about any size would work. When using any power tools always wear the proper safety equipment and keep loose clothing away from moving parts.
Step 6: Put the Swivel Snaps on the Washers
Use a file or sand paper to smooth out the holes, then put the swivel snaps on the washers. I started using swivels because sometimes the sharp edge of the hole would cut my line when a large fish got hooked. I use #8 snaps as they are rated for 90 lbs. You never know when the big one might bite. Using swivel snaps will also make it quick and easy to replace frayed tie-off lines and leaders.
Step 7: Begin the Assembly
Start by applying primer to one end of the pipe and one cap. Then apply the glue to both pieces. Place the glued cap onto the end of the pipe and push the cap down until it seats, then make a quarter turn to evenly distribute the adhesive. Wipe off the excess glue with a paper towel or rag. The caps are what will hold the washers in place so you want to make sure they are glued very well.
Step 8: Slide on the Washers and the Noodle
Slide one of the washers over the pipe and down to the cap. Then slide the foam noodle section onto the pipe and add the second washer to the open end. Apply the primer and glue to the pipe and cap as you did on the first end, then place the cap on the open end. Press firmly to seat the cap as before. The assembled float should look like the one in the last photo with a washer on each end.
Step 9: Attach the Lines and Hook
Attach about 5 of 6 feet of heavy nylon fishing line to each swivel. I normally use 90 to 100 pound test line. Then tie a hook to the one of lines. I favor a #8/0 O'Shaughnesy style hook, but you can use whatever you prefer.
Step 10: Time to Go Fishing
To deploy this type of setup, tie the loose-ended line to a supple limb overhanging a river bank or lake shore. It's important that the limb you choose be strong but flexible. If the limb doesn't bend or give when the fish strikes, the line may snap. Apply the bait of your choice to the hook and drop it in the water. Adjust the line length to meet your desired fishing depth. The beauty of this type of fishing is that you can have several lines in the water at the same time. It allows you to do other things and still catch fish. And it also increases your odds of a catch or multiple catches. In my part of the country the primary target species is catfish, but the size and type of hook, the bait and the fishing depth can be tailored to just about any species in your area. Please do not exceed your catch and possession limit per species.
I think this updated version of the venerable jug line offers several of advantages. First, the noodles come in a variety of colors so you'll be able to identify and locate your sets easily. Second, the shape of this set up makes it easy to tell if you have a fish on the line as the end tends to tip up when you have a fish. Third, this shape takes up less space in the boat. They also store and travel better than milk jugs or bleach bottles. Plus, I think they just look cool.
One very important note: please make sure that this type of set-up is legal where you intend to use it. Some areas may not allow unattended fishing lines. Most states limit the number of these that you can set at one time and require that they are checked at least once a day. Most states also require that you permanently affix your name and address to each setup. I use a brass or copper trap tag that I get from a trappers supply store. You can also make your own. All states limit the species and number of fish that can be caught in a day and/or held in possession. Please obey all applicable laws and regulations, be responsible, be safe and enjoy.