Introduction: Minnow Net From a Freezer Pop Net Bag (Crawdad/Crawfish Too!)
How to make a minnow net from a Freezer Pop net bag.
This can also be used for catching crawdads (crayfish) or frogs.
1 Plastic Freezer Pop net bag, or a produce net bag would work as well.
2 Wire coat hangers
1 foot of 3/16 inch diameter heat shrink tubing
4 inches of 3/8 inch diameter heat shrink tubing
2 1/2 foot section of 1/2 inch PVC pipe
1 large curved or straight needle
5 feet (or so) of high strength fishing line, I prefer the braided kind.
4-5 clothes pins
a Drill with a small diameter bit
The wife and I were night fishing a few weeks ago. We put a propane lantern and hung it out over the water, which attracts the phytoplankton, which attracts the bait fish, which attracts the big fish. Well the water was just boiling with minnows and I was thinking if I just had a net I could scoop some up and use them for bait. Nothing better than free bait. Sure you can buy a big net at the store, but wheres the fun in that? I made this one for free, just using things I had laying around the house. Plus eating all the freezer-pops was a bonus!
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Step 1: Make Your Wire Hoop.
First we need to make a wire hoop to fasten the freezer pop net bag to. Take two wire coat hangers and straighten them the best you can. Then twist them together. I used two, three might have produced a more solid hoop but would have been more difficult to work with.
Then slide a piece of 3/16" heat shrink tubing onto the middle and the two ends. Use a soldering iron to shrink it up. This was so I knew where the middle was and to keep the coat hangers twisted together. I used some 5-6 inch sections of heat shrink tubing on both ends of the twisted wire clothes hangers.
Now with this piece, you want to make a hoop that will hold the bag open but not be too big or two small for the bag. I made a rough circle with the coat hangers, put it in the bag, then opened it up as best I could without the bag slipping off. It's best to have a second set of hands help you with this part. Mark the spot where the wires meet up, then bend them straight out. This is the part you will insert into the handle.
Take some 3/8" heat shrink tubing and shrink it around the two ends of the hoop to keep the two halves together.
I love heat shrink tubing as you can probably tell.
Step 2: Attach the Net Bag to the Hoop.
Place the wire hoop inside the bag and double the net bag over the inside of the hoop. Use clothes pins to keep it in place while you are working. Then with a large needle (something like an upholstery needle) thread it with fishing line. Loop the fishing line around the hoop in a spiral fashion to keep the net bag attached to it.
I picked up some heavy 75lb fishing line on clearance down at Walmart a while back. I sure as heck didn't know what I would use 75lb fishing line for when I bought it.
Step 3: Make the Handle
Make a notch in the end of the PVC pipe you will be using for your handle. This is to keep the net from spinning around in the handle. I used the saw on my Leatherman then used the knife to widen it up a bit.
Drill two holes 90 degrees from each other straight through the PVC pipe about 1/2 inch from the end. So you end up with 4 holes all together. We'll be using these holes to attach the wire hoop with net to the handle, in the next step.
Step 4: Attach the Wire Hoop to the Handle.
In order to get the needle through the holes and up through the top of the pvc pipe I had to bend it into a half circle. I used two Leatherman's to do this. Ok so I have a bit of a Leatherman problem, I have 5 of them. But it's not my fault, they keep coming out with newer better ones. The Charge TTI (Titanium...mmmmmmmm!) has me drooling so I'm saving up for it.
So anyway I used one Leatherman to hold the back of the needle (with the pliers), the other to slightly bend it. Then I slid both down a bit and repeated this process until I had a nice curve to it.
Once this was done I could thread the needle then stuck the needle through one of the holes in the PVC up through the top, then through the net, then back down the neck and through the opposite hole. I repeated this step several times until the net was secure to the handle and then tied off the fishing line.
And there you have a complete minnow net!
Step 5: Benefits!
So the wife and I took this little baby out fishing with us. With it we caught minnows for bait but the star of the show was using it to catch crayfish. The wife caught 3 dozen crayfish with it and it was a whole meal for us the next day! So saving some silly parts that you'd normally throw away paid for a whole gourmet meal! Now how cool is that??
The only problem was there was only one net. I'm going to have to make another one because the wife had it on her the whole time!
Step 6: The Mark 2
Ok the Mark 1 was good, so good in fact that my nephew was begging me to make one for him. So I gave him the Mark 1, he gave me another net-bag from freezer-pops (fair trade IMHO), and I started work on the Mark2.
Differences/Upgrades from the Mark 1:
1. Duct Tape plug to reduce/eliminate hoop waggle.
2. Increased the hoop to 3 wire coat hangers (from 2), to increase rigidity.
3. Neon Green duct tape on handle to increase visibility and traction.
The Duct Tape Plug:
Ok the original had just a bit of waggle in it, not enough to bother most people but it bugged me enough to remedy the situation in the Mark 2. To solve the issue, I simply wrapped a strip of Duct Tape around the wire base of the hoop until I had a cylindrical plug just big enough to snuggly fit in the pvc handle. This completely removed the waggle.
The Mark 1 had used two wire coat hangers straightened then twisted them together. On the Mark 2, I increased this to 3 wire hangers. At first I tried to braid them together, which I thought would be stronger, but it didn't work well and made the hoop harder to shape. So then I just re-straightened them and twisted them together. This time I covered the entire hoop with heat shrink tubing to keep them together and protect the wire hoop from corrosion.
The last upgrade to the Mark 2 was the addition of neon green duct tape spirally covering the handle. The duct tape is replaceable for when it wears out. The neon green color is to make it easier to see when you put it down. I did this instead of painting the handle because the duct tape was cheaper and easier than a can of spray paint and clear coat. Plus it's Duct Tape, come on! Maybe I can enter this project in a duct tape related contest in the future.
I actually also lengthened the handle on this one by about another foot.
Step 7: The Mark 3
I've already begun thinking about the Mark 3. In the next incarnation I'm thinking of making a smaller minnow/crawdad net but this time increase the complexity to making the hoop collapsible for easier storage.
UPDATE: Ok I found REALLY long cable ties at HomeDespot the other day. Which surprised the heck out of me because I couldn't find any online at all. I think they will work perfect for my intended use! Stay tuned!
The hollow handle has me wondering if it could be put to good use. I don't know what exactly but I could use it to store something useful.
I got this telescopic aluminum pole on SNEEZeBay from a Chinese vendor. It telescopes to a full 5 meters! One of the telescopic sections actually fits perfectly into the inside of the tube thereby giving me a 3 meter reach with this thing. Maybe if I made the handle with a thicker piece of PVC the entire telescopic pole would store inside of it then I'd just need a little adapter piece to attach the pole back to the handle of the net. Then I'd have a 6 meter reach with it. But I don't know why I'd need a 6 meter pole-net.