Introduction: How to Make a Minnow Trap Out of Soda Bottles

Picture of How to Make a Minnow Trap Out of Soda Bottles

In this Instructable, i am going to show you how to make a minnow trap out of soda bottles. this method of catching minnows is the on the cheap consisting of things youll just find laying around the house. The next step will highlight these!

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

The materials needed are quite simple:

1) 2 Litre Bottles X 2
2) 10' Rope (I used Para Cord (550 Cord as its better kown as) BUT anything works well so long as its synthetic as ropes such as hemp, cotton, etc. will likely rot or mildew easier which weakens the rope and inccreases the chance of your hard work getting washed down the river)
3) Scissors
4) A Black Sharpie
5) Matches
6) Something REALLY Pointy

Step 2: Starting the Project

Picture of Starting the Project

After gathering the things necessary to build the trap, you need to take the label off the bottle. to eliminate having to put another picture up here, i just started with the label already stripped off the bottle.

Now your going to punch holes in one of the bottles down where the bottom is. I personally used the little seam like line at the bottom of the bottle as a guide and punched 8 holes perpendicular to each other about 1/4" from the seam. I then cut the bottom off the bottle using the same seam to punch the holes as a guide to cut off the bottom.

NOTE: Heating up the object your using to puch the holes just enough to melt the plastic works wonders and kinda saves a little time.

Step 3: Making the Inside of the Trap

Picture of Making the Inside of the Trap

Now take the second bottle and fit it inside the first bottle as shown. Now you have two options...Use the marker to mark where the holes in the first bottle are then remove the second bottle and punch the holes then refit the second bottle, OR heat up the sharp object you are using and punch the holes with heat.

After you punch the holes HEAT PUNCH a starter hole to insert your scissors and cut the top of the second bottle FLUSH with the bottom of the first bottle.

Before anyone out there comments an insult to me about the cap being on the second bottles top, I KNOW ITS STILL ON...ITS JUST IN THERE FOR ILLUSTRATION PURPOSES!!

Step 4: Securing the Parts of the Trap

Picture of Securing the Parts of the Trap

Now cut 12" of 550 Cord and pull the 7 inner strands out (i know paracord also uses only 5 inner strands but most contains7).  Singe one of the ends of the inner strands and then fish (pardon the pun) the strand through the holes and tie a surgical stitch (i used only 3 square knots to attain this) to secure the two parts together...also not mentioned in the supplies, if this method dont work for you, then it IS ok to use wire (of course it will be more secure and would be the more favored option).

Then weld the knot to set it in and keep it from coming apart.

Step 5: Final Touches

Picture of Final Touches

Now your going to tie 550 cord to your trap to secure it to the river bank (or lake shore).

Take 48" of 550 cord and cut it in half. take the insividual halfs, and tie an overhand loop in each of them. Then take the remaining rope and tie the two halfs to it using an Archer's knot (really any loop knot works, BUT this is what i prefer).

Now heat punch 4 perpendicular holes in the bottom of the trap about as big in diameter as the rope your my case its 550 cord. Then your going to tie the four ends of the halfed cord through the holes. I used the two half hitches knot.

Step 6: Enjoy the Fruits (erm...i :D) of Your Labor

Picture of Enjoy the Fruits (erm...i :D) of Your Labor

The title of this last step implies, it is time to enjoy the effort you put into catching your minnows. Really from here anything and everything is your decision...Where to put the trap, what to bait it with, how long to leave it in the water...its all you from here...however, i would like to make some suggestions:

It is best to put the trap i the more shallow water that the minnows prefer (at least thats where i have seen ALOT of minnows) however it really depends on the body of water. Minnows will frequent the shoreline in most rivers, creeks, and streams because the water doesnt flow as fast. Lakes they may frequent deeper water.

Bait is a little tricky...i dont know how many species of minnow are out there but i DO know that there are too many species for me to really care...BUT i am pretty sure they will eat anything. i remember as a kid, i would wade into the lake and soon after i got all settled, BAM!!! there they were trying to eat the hair off my legs. Point is im pretty sure each species prefers different baits, so if one bait isnt producing results then put something else in the trap. Trial and error here.

LASTLY...the length of time...again from what ive seen before, you could have a swarm in your trap as soon as it hits the water. OR you may get nothing at all for 2 hours. refer to the above paragraph if the latter is the case. If you leave the trap in the water too long, a predator (bird, rodent, fish, or other animal) could get a hold of the trap or its potential contents...of course depenting on your game of choice this could either help you or hurt you in the long could get a better bait such as crawfish and hook a huge Aligator Gar, or frogs and hook a Bluegill.

None the less, i hope Yall have enjoyed this Instructable as much as i have enjoyed making it!!


ArchGrafiX (author)2016-06-25

If you use drilled-out plastic pickle (or other large-top) jars, you can affix a cone of screen or from a three-liter plastic bottle into the larger jar lid (with a cut-out hole) with tape or a glue gun. To get your minnows, just unscrew the big lid and dump them into your minnow/crawfish bucket. Glue some rocks onto the big lid or jar side and that will let it sink faster. Just make sure it doesn't sit on the bottom with the coned top down.

Lifecraft7 (author)2016-03-26

Thank you so much man you saved my fishing. ✌️?

ehorne1 (author)2015-05-25

do you drill any holes in the lid to allow water flow?

jenngirl (author)2015-02-16

how do u get the minnows out after the minnows are in the bottle?with out having to cut the bottle again.i've made an minnow catcher kinda the same way execpt i use 2 plastic bottles to make mine, and it all so works the same way but u have to undo the top with the lid on makes it a lot easier to get the minnow or crow fish out as well. at least i think so.

DaveM50 (author)jenngirl2015-02-16

I used twist ties to hold the tops in mine. Usually had to remove two to open the lid. It takes a minute or so but then you can just empty the entire contents into a minnow bucket or whatever you're using.

I caught a fair number of crayfish in my traps, even without widening the openings. Indeed, I stopped trapping in one area because crayfish were getting in and eating most of the minnows (and on one occasion, a snapping turtle smashed the trap getting the crayfish!). They ran the gamut as far as size--I was surprised some could get into the traps.

DaveM50 (author)2014-06-27

I've made these by cutting the top off a pop bottle, removing the cap, reversing the cut-off section into the bottom half, etc. Works just find and you get one trap out of each bottle.

jenngirl (author)DaveM502015-02-16

i use 2 bottles and it all so works out the same way as yours does.

jblackburn6 (author)2014-12-07

had my webelos do it. They love it

merlehanna (author)2013-02-05

I love this design. to make it friendly for crawdads as well, I cut the top out of the bottle than goes in the bottom and hot glued some flaps made out of the leftover bottle. than way hopefully I can catch both,,,thanks a bunch,,great instructable..oh, and I used bread ties to attach the bottom to make it removable so I can get out what goes in ;-)

sokamiwohali (author)merlehanna2013-02-14

to eliminate some work you could also use gatorade or 3L bottles for crawdads since they have bigger holes

slingshotlover (author)2012-03-24

will this also work with cray fish 'cause im tired of gettin' pinched

if they are small yes...if not then no it wont. also you would have to wrestle the crayfish out of the bottle. good idea, but maby not practical. but still, a good idea.

Thanks for the info good thing i didnt try it before i had a chance to get on to see if anyone would answer back. worries with me...i usually answer rather quickly if i am able. i would love to see how your trap turns out!! post pics if you dont mind!! :)

I'll post pics if i can ever get the stuff to make it

ljrodgers209 (author)2012-02-07

These work well enough that I used them on my masters degree research project awhile back. If you replace the bottle cap with a piece of insect screen held on by a rubber band the fish inside will live longer. It allows oxygen into the bottle.

drilling holes large enough in the bottlecap, or in specific "strategic" locations on the outer bottle would work just as well, and save money. great idea though if you have insect screen just laying around somewhere thats not being occupied by a window already. If the idea is to keep the fish alive, than i guess this would work, but the trap is mainly short term as the minnows would be used for fishing.

Takelababy (author)2012-01-30

This will work as a blow fly trap too. Add about two inches of water with a tsp of raw meat or fish. It really stinks so it's up to you to dump the smelly contents or just throw it out. Since I live out of town I'll dump the contents "in the bush" and let nature take care of all the dead flies.

sokamiwohali (author)Takelababy2012-01-30

thats another use for it. good idea. you can also use it to catch hornets, bees, wasps...just pour a sweet sticky food in it and you have a premium, hand made bug catcher.

warreng971 (author)2012-01-23

what do you do with the minnows? and can't they be used for bait?

sokamiwohali (author)warreng9712012-01-30

sorry for the late can do with the minnows whatever your heart them (if you can stand it...), use them in a captivity project, bait...anything really.

tstilwell (author)2011-12-21

This is just what I was looking for. Thanks I just made one. I used cable ties instead of cord to tie the 2 bottles. I also used a paper punch to make the holes in the bottles. It worked great. The punch I used was not the standard hole size. It was one with a much smaller hole in it. I also used Blinds cord to tie between the cable ties and this seems to work great.

sokamiwohali (author)tstilwell2011-12-21

i didnt have a teeny sized hole punch to punch the holes in mine. I also would have used cable (really it would have been safety wire) to tie the pieces together however i didnt have that either. But i figured someone would have used wire insteat of the inner strands of 550 cord. but as i mentioned in that step, wire is the best choice to make it more secure.

Congradulations on your build! and thank you for your feedback. this is what we need in the instructables community to better our projects. I am glad that this instructable worked out for you. Might you have any pictures? i would love to see how your project turned out!

tstilwell (author)sokamiwohali2011-12-21

I will send you a picture but the one I took was of poor quality. The lighting was to high for the clear bottles I used. I will retake them and send it in shortly.

sokamiwohali (author)tstilwell2011-12-21


Tumunga (author)2011-12-08

Uhm...did you know you left the cap on the inner bottle? How are the fish going to get in???

{snickers} jk

sokamiwohali (author)Tumunga2011-12-08

yes. but after i tied the first 3 surgeon's stitches i took it off.

Tumunga (author)sokamiwohali2011-12-09

I'm sorry. I was just joking after you stated,

"Before anyone out there comments an insult to me about the cap being on the second bottles top, I KNOW ITS STILL ON...ITS JUST IN THERE FOR ILLUSTRATION PURPOSES!!"

I'll just go sulkin the corner now...

sokamiwohali (author)Tumunga2011-12-09


yokozuna (author)2011-12-05

Nice instructable. I'm curious what you do with your trapped minnows? Also, it might be good to talk about using your trap (how long to leave, where to place, when to check, etc).

sokamiwohali (author)yokozuna2011-12-06

OK SOOOO...i looked into what you were talking about...on the final step as i was publishing it everything BUT the pictures for the last step had somehow gotten erased, however i will fix that. right now i just got back from a long trip and will fix this soon. thank you for your comment though. if it werent for ppl like you, mentioning this kind of stuff to our authors, there would be all kinds of insults thrown about (i know you know theres alot of ppl like that on this site) so thank you very much!! Youll b getting a patch for the help!

Lt.Greg (author)sokamiwohali2011-12-08

It'll work even better if you bait it with something. Why, you could even use a minnow!

bluelantern (author)Lt.Greg2011-12-09

Lol,a really pretty one... :)

sokamiwohali (author)Lt.Greg2011-12-08

thats what the last step was to highlight before the things got erased. work has been keeping me from updating it at the moment.

yokozuna (author)sokamiwohali2011-12-06

Hey, no problem. You should make it an Eagle Scout patch, as I got robbed of mine when my troop disbanded many years ago. :) Great project, I love the re-use aspect, specifically of plastic bottles (several of my projects use similar materials).

sokamiwohali (author)yokozuna2011-12-06

you got robbed of your Eagle rank? yeah honestly i wasnt thinking about the reuse part. but i was thinking about how practical the idea is for fisherman who really dont wanna spend any money to actually buy a trap OR minnow bucket. the plus with the project is that you spend virtually NO extra money for this build because most all of the materials are already in the house...EVERYONE buys something in a 2L bottle, rope is usually handy, for those who dont have 550 cord, wire (even from bread loaf bags) can be used in joining the two parts together, and there is a sharp object that can puncture holes almost everywhere you turn.

yokozuna (author)sokamiwohali2011-12-07

Yep, I'm from a very small town, and as a Life Scout my troop disbanded. I had just got my service project approved, and if I recall correctly, had all the required merit badges. There were some "lone scout" things available, but I just ran out of time to get everything done. I worked with an Eagle Scout for a long time, and always threatened to steal the plaque he had on his desk. :)

sokamiwohali (author)yokozuna2011-12-07

wow...that stinks man. well, i tell you what. imma make you an honorary Eagle Scout (IDC whether or not i am allowed to do that). I am currently trying to figure out how to make a borderless patch (so the white background in the patch photo i downloaded doesnt show up). Sorry its taking so long to get your patch to you, but this is one of those things that makes me OCD (cause it has to be perfect but im not really OCD...HAHA). It will be well worth the wait tho. i promise that!!

sokamiwohali (author)yokozuna2011-12-05

use them for fishing mostly. there are those ppl who use them for other reasons such as feeding a predator type aquatic pet (turtle or an Oscar (which is agressive towards other tank fish so instead of constantly replacing your investments because of a grouchy fish, just get em for free from the river).

Now i didnt talk about using the trap cause its very simple. just secure it to the shoreline and throw it in with bait FOR MINNOWS and is up to the user as to how long to leave it...minnows are a curious animal so it wont take long to accumulate some in the trap. theoretically, you could leave it in the water for 15 min. and have enough minnows to last you the whole day.

All-in-all it is purely up to the user of how to use and operate the trap, as well as what to do with your little catch.

BUT it does make for a good science project for a science fair or a class project for xtra credit.

Buckbeak (author)2011-12-08

Poor minnows. :(

bluelantern (author)Buckbeak2011-12-09


Green Silver (author)2011-12-09

In summer this is also a superb wasp trap, you just need a dollop of jam or some fruit inside.

im going to test this. even though its cold here the hornets and wasps are still a flyin. i think the only issue it that because of the amount of space within this particular trap, they could still get out. if im not mistaken (which i could be cuz i dont study insects like wasps n bees n hornets) they leave a pheremone trail. this being said they could potentially get out. but im going to try this just to see if it does work. i know if one were to put a more sticky sweet bait in the trap, they would not get out.

but i will look into this.

wncranger (author)2011-12-08

Well done! I sent you a patch and am also following you. From one Eagle Scout to another I, too, enjoy the great outdoors. Congratulations on attaining Eagle. I received mine thirty-one years ago (wow, time flies!). Trust me, it is something you will treasure for a lifetime. Thank you for sharing! I look forward to seeing more of your work!

sokamiwohali (author)wncranger2011-12-08

Well thank you very much on patching me. your my first patch. I love being an Eagle. actually my Screen Name is Cherokee for Soaring Eagle. the Native name was given to me by some Native Cherokee dancers that performad @ my Eagle Scout Ceremony.

i love to see theres other Eagles on this site. its so exciting to know that our small percentage found its way to this site. I myself am trying to give back to the Boyscout program by becoming a Cubscout Packmaster for a pack that is about to loose its Cubmaster and desprately needs a new one. i just hope with work, i can put fourth the time to these young men and help them to the pedastal that we earned with so much sweat blood and tears!

Potroast (author)2011-12-08

This is very cool. I have used the same set up for a wasp/hornet trap with some bait (meat or apple) in the bottom. Do you use bread for minnows, or something different? Is there any trick to finding likely places to set the trap? Thanks for the instructable!

sokamiwohali (author)Potroast2011-12-08

Your Welcome! And thanks for the great feedback. i will have details on the final stepo soon.

skylane (author)2011-12-08

You can also, if needed, use some fishing line.
Some stores, like "The Dollar Store" carries 3L bottles... just a thought...
Now... to catch the big one!!

whiteoakart (author)2011-12-08

My kids are always wanting to catch minnows when we are vacationing. They try a little net and sometimes get a few. This will help them get a whole bunch of them. They are even old enough to help make the trap.

remotecontrolpete (author)2011-12-05

Very cool!

About This Instructable




Bio: I am an Eagle Scout. I love Hunting, Fishing, Camping, Ropework, Chain Mail, Making things in general, and i love my family.
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