Introduction: Fish, Haul & Play Net Bag
Paracord is an extremely versatile tool. I like to use it to make useful things like this multipurpose mesh net/bag. You can use it to catch fish in a shallow stream to feed yourself. You can protect your food and yourself by using it as a bear bag while camping. You can use it as a hobo bag for wet clothes or gathering supplies. You can leave the bottom open and you have a basketball net (in the woods or at home) to entertain your fellow campers. Of course, it also functions as a snare net for hunting small game. All you need to create this project is a knife, a paracord bracelet, and the woods.
Step 1: Gather Your Supplies, Make the Frame.
You'll need to bring a paracord bracelet and a knife. Find a long flexible switch or a length of flexible vine, look on the ground or in the trees and scrub. Almost any vine or switch will work, just make sure it is strong enough to hold a little weight (fish or wet clothes) and flexible enough to curve into a circle. One caveat; if your vine has "leaves of three, let it be" because you don't want to be working with poison ivy or poison oak.
When you have a suitable switch/vine curl it into a circle. If the thick end is split, run the other end of the vine through it to help anchor it and then wrap the overlapping vine around the ring to create a circle. It should be sturdy but it doesn't have to be rock solid. The net will help hold the ringed vine in place.
Step 2: Prep Your Paracord to Create String
Now it's time to unwind your paracord bracelet into one long strand, mine is about 10 ft long. Set the clips aside for another use. Paracord is very strong because it is made by winding 7 strands of string together and then covering it with a mesh sheath. We are going to use the strands inside the paracord to create the net.
First, fold the paracord in half two times to create four equal strands. Cut the ends to create 4 equal separate strands. Take your knife and carefully slice open the mesh at the end of the paracord approximately 1/2"-1" to expose the inner strands. Grasp the inner strands and pull them out of the mesh, set the mesh aside for later use. Do this for all four pieces of paracord, you should end up with 28 inner strands.
If you have a lot of mesh tubing left over see BlackBanana's project here.
Step 3: Create the Net
Take the strands and tie them together two at a time to create 14 long strands. Take each strand and attach it to the ring frame with a lark's head knot (see the picture). The knot the you created earlier to tie the two strands together will give you traction on the frame. Make sure the strands are evenly placed around the ring.
When the strands are all attached to the ring frame, start to tie them into a net by taking a single string from neighboring strands and tying them together. Tie the neighboring strings all the way around the frame, this is the first row of the net.
At this point, you may find it useful to take the mesh sheaths you set aside earlier and tie it to opposite sides of the frame. You can use the mesh to hang the frame on a branch or the inside of your tent to hold the frame up. This will allow the frame to hang leaving you with both hands free to continue tying strings all the way around the frame.
Keep moving from strand to strand all the way around the ring tying neighbor to neighbor. This will create the net. You can adjust the size of the openings in the net by tying the strands in shorter or longer lengths. A tighter mesh will enable you to catch smaller fish or game without letting your catch slip through. A tighter mesh takes longer to tie but it is worth the effort to create a more effective net.
Continue tying the net row by row until you are approximately 4" from the bottom of the strands. You can leave the bottom of the net open if you are using it for basketball. If you are using the net as a bag/snare/fishing net you'll need to gather all of the strands and create one large knot at the end of the net to tie it off.
Step 4: Multiple Uses for Your Net
There are two good fishing methods that use this bag. The first method involves placing the net on the bottom of a stream in still water. Use silt to cover/disguise the net minus the colorful mesh string tied to one side of the frame. When a fish comes to investigate the colorful string yank on the mesh strap to snare the fish. This method takes patience and still or slow clear water. If the water is cloudy you can still randomly yank the bag to see if you've caught something but it is random and can be frustrating.
The second method is called log-jamming. In a shallow moving stream, place large rocks across both sides of the stream to create a narrow path to channel the fish. Submerge the net in the opening and place rocks around the frame to hold it firmly in place. the stream water will flow through but the fish will be caught. This method is "set and leave" fishing. If there aren't many fish it allows you to leave the net for longer periods while you do other jobs around camp. If fish are plentiful do not leave the net unattended. An overly full net can tear or be swept downstream, that can also be frustrating. This method can provide really easy fishing, but be sure that the stream is relatively free from debris or it will clog your net. A clogged net plus a log-jam formation can lead to flooded banks so be aware of the topography of the area.
If you are using the bag as a bear bag make sure to gather your food and place it in the bag a very generous distance from your camp. Place the bag up in a tree. Use a shirt, plastic bag, or any other layer you have to wrap up and protect your food inside of the bag.
If you are using the bag as a haul bag to carry wet items, you can use the paracord mesh sheath to tie a long branch to the frame to carry it hobo style. This is valuable when you are hauling wet clothes or supplies. It holds the wet items away from you and your dry items while you are on the move, preserving precious body heat. Alternatively, if you are hauling dry items you can use the mesh sheath to make a strap to carry the bag like a purse or backpack.
For a basketball net, hang the net from a tree or use the mesh sheath to tie it to the trunk of a tree. If you make two nets you can play no dribble basketball in the woods (pine cones work really well). This is a great way to keep an energetic group entertained and busy.
You now have a very versatile tool that can feed you, protect you, help you, or entertain you. Isn't paracord great?