IMPROVED Pop Bottle Minnow Trap

Hi all,

I wanted to make a cheap minnow trap (see the many instructables already done on the subject). But I incorporated a few tweaks; they seem a little too small, for one. I worry that I can't put enough bait, and that if I leave it out too long, the minnows will either die from lack of fresh water or escape.

As well, I thought it would be handy to use something with a handle, for easy carrying and to attach the leader / line to.

So I started with two bottles; a 3.78L (one gallon) bottle, in my case an Ocean Spray container; and a standard 2L pop bottle. (I like 7Up, they have a nice long funnel-shaped neck.)

Process: I cut most of the bottom of the large bottle out, leaving a hole the same diameter as the 2L bottle.

I also cut the neck of the 2L bottle off. I made little cuts in the large end of the funnel, to create tabs that can then be folded over.

Now, I don't like leaving the threaded portion on the funnel (if I were a minnow, I wouldn't swim through it!) So I put it in a vice and cut it off with a regular saw. If you wanted a larger hole (going after larger minnows), you can just cut a little higher up. I made my cut right behind the flange.

Then, just like the regular trap, I heated a needle held in vice-grips. I poked two holes through each tab, and into the bottle. Now, I've assembled other traps with nylon fishing line. This time I used baling wire (regular thin-gauge aluminum wire), curving it, pushing it down through one hole in each tab and back up through the other, then twisting and cutting off. It took a while and was a bit fussy, but it feels very secure, I'd do it this way again.

I heated the blade of a very small screwdriver and melted some holes in the lid as well. I still need to put some additional holes in the body of the trap (to allow it to sink quickly). Then I'll throw in some pebbles for ballast, add bait (dog food and cracker crumbs) and some nylon line tied to the handle, and it's ready to go! I'll try to update this instructible once I've used it a bit, to see if it works better than the 'standard' model. Hope you found this interesting!

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    9 Discussions

    I put some additional holes in the body of the trap (to allow it to sink quickly), and used twist-ties to attach a short length of metal pipe for ballast.

    I have now used it a bit, and it works better than the 'standard' model. The metal pipe is less messy than using rocks, and allows the trap to sink while remaining horizontal.

    Left overnight in a local pond / shallow lake, I caught about a dozen minnows, plus assorted polywogs and water bugs. I'll be making more traps along the same lines. Hope you found this interesting!


    1 year ago on Introduction

    Fish are curious. If you run out of bread-type bait, try using a styrofoam cup or parts of one. The fish will swim into the trap to check it out. Crazy.


    5 years ago

    I use to use one of the metal mesh traps like this when i was a kid. We always caught plenty of minnows without any bait whatsoever.

    Ray from RI

    7 years ago on Introduction

    Good idea!
    A better and larger trap could be made out of a large 5 gallon plastic water cooler bottle...!
    You could attach 2 or more 2 liter funnels, and find a way to block to opening of the 5 gal. container maybe with a home made wooden plug. Certainly the larger size would allow you to catch more minnows.
    Very creative.... have you ever caught any crayfish in this larger trap at all?Maybe by cutting off the upper tips of the funnel parts, which would make a larger diameter hole you could then use it for catching crayfish?

    3 replies

    Hi Ray,

    Yes, I actually tried a water cooler bottle; I found it far too large and heavy to use, particularly once filled with water!

    As to the crayfish; I haven't ever caught any in this trap. As mentioned, the opening of the cone has already been enlarged (by cutting the threads off) so I would think it's big enough.... But I always use crackers; I hear that they prefer meat and/or pet food!

    Thanks for writing!


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I watched ah guy in New Mexico tie old chicken to a tumble weed and throw it into a stream. After ah while he pulled it out with crayfish attached to the chicken parts.

    Ray from RI

    7 years ago on Introduction

    Well I'll try making your trap and this spring summer will use meat and see how well it catches crayfish. I'll try to let you know how well it works...!
    Thanks for the reply!