Primitive Smart Fishing




Hey guys!

This time we will go even deeper into the wilderness survival as we get in touch with our ancestor's living style, but we will do it the smart way ;)

Fishing has always been the most efficient way of getting the best out of the meat, as a smaller effort is required to catching fish than hunting for other types of meat, plus fish meat is easier to digest and has a lot of good nutrients.

However, as man's hunting skills evolved, different types of traps were developed to ease animal hunting.

So why not make fishing more efficient?! :D

In this instructable, I combined 3 different survival skills in a primitive smart fishing trap.

I only used materials that can easily be found in nature. Unfortunately, the weather and time worked against me. I would've loved to show you that not even the knifes that I used as tools to help me build this trap were needed. Maybe next time I will show you hot to do it with easy to find tools, like rocks. That would be awesome because this trap can be done without no previous man made tools.

Lets now see what this is all about!

Step 1: Picking Up the Materials

For this job I used two knifes, a bigger survival knife to cut the thicker wood and a pocket knife for the more delicate part of the job.

The first thing I did was getting my materials for the chordage. This can be achieved out of different plants, both dried and living plants. The difference is that you have to get the dried plants a bit wet/damp. The tree I choose was a small green linden if I'm not mistaken.

What you are looking for is the inner bark of the tree, the white one, not the outer green/brown one.

For this, I used the big knife to cut cut the bark all around the tree, making a closed circle, as you can see in the pics. Then I marked 3 thin strips to begin with and started peeling them off. As you can see in the pics, two different types of bark came out, but they have to be separated as only the white one is the one we need.

The lengths of stripes is not that important because I will show you how to bind them together one by one.

Step 2: Getting the Materials Ready for the Process

Now, the white bark has to be separated of the green/brown one. For this you will have to work the material a little bit, bending it with your fingers all the way on the length of the stripe, as you can see in the video. After this, I used the pocket knife to peel the outer bark off. It comes out easily, no big effort needed.

I know what you're thinking... I need to clip my nails! When working with raw materials, nails are a big help, you'll see! I cut them afterwards :P

Step 3: Making the Chordage (fishing Line)

This is the aprt that takes the most time and patience, but the result is soo worth it, as the chordage you can make is very strong. Depending on the intended purpose, you can obtain different thicknesses, but it's very hard to work with thick bark stripes. It's easier to work with thin stripes, make more thinner chordage and then weave them together to obtain a thicker chord.

Lets start making that chordage now!

First, you take a 0.5 cm (0.2 in) thick bark strip (we only work with the white, inner bark). The length is not really important but it should be at least 40 cm (15 in) to be efficient.

Bend the trip in 2, but let one part be longer than the other. It's easier to add strips as you go, one by'll see.

Hold the bent end with one hand and with the other hand take one part and start twisting it outwards (as you look at it). Give it about 5 twists, then twist both parts together in the opposite direction, like in the video no. 12. Sorry about the focusing problem of the's kinda hard doing all that at the same time (that's why I need a GoPRO cam :P)

Repeat the process until you are left with 5 cm (2 in) of the shorter part. Then add another strip along the length of the smaller part, twist them together and proceed as in the previous step. (see video 15)

In video 16 you can see that binding more strips together in order to get a long chordage does not affect it's strength. Belive me, it's very strong!

Now repeat the process until you get a chordage long enough for yourset purpose. I only made a 1.5 m (60 in) line.

When you get to the desired length, just make a simple knot at the end in order to secure your chordage. (see video 17).

Step 4: Trap Securing Mechanism

Now that you're finished with the making the chordage, let move on to the securing mechanism of the trap!

For this, you will need to cut two Y like branches, with one short arm and a longer one like shown in the pics.

The short arms of the two sticks must be cut oblique, not straight.

Stick 1: on the longer arm, you will have to make a notch in order to secure the chordage that will connect it to the spring (you'll see what the spring looks like in the following step).

Stick 2: the longer arm (long enough to ensure a good support in the ground - about 50 cm (20 in)) has to be sharpened so that it can be inserted into the ground.

Step 5: The Fishing Hook

For the fishing hook, I used a primitive gorge hook as it is the easiest to make. You can also make hooks from wood, bone, thorns. Don't get fooled by the simple looks of the hook, it's very efficient!

For this you will have to look for a piece of very hard wood. You wouldn't want it to break easily!

Using a knife, make the hook function of the fish you want to catch and the bait you want to attach.

Make it sharp on both ends but not to thin on the ends in order for them not to break!

When you're done, make a notch all around the middle of the hook. You will use that to secure it with the fishing line and help it not to slip. (see video 28)

Step 6: The Spring System

The spring consists in a long stick which is flexible enough not to break when bent over, but stiff enough to bounce back when the trigger is released.

If the stick is growing next tot he water you want to fish in, just leave it the and clean the branches and leaves off it. If not, you can put it deep enough into the ground to be fixed. The outside part should be at least 2 m ( 6 ft), depending on its thickness and flexibility/rigidity).

Use a strong inner bark strip or chordage (around 50 cm (20 in) long) to tie the top tip of the spring stick to the smaller Y stick (where you made the notch).

Tie the fishing line to it as shown in the pic.

Drive the longer Y stick into the ground, bend the spring stick lower enough to connect the two Y as shown in the pic.

Be very careful because it's a very sensitive mechanism and you can get hit by it if it's accidently released. Stay outside the reach length of the spring stick!

Step 7: Baiting

As you hold the fishing line in a vertical position, the bait you use should hold your hook in a vertical position, for the fish to be able to swallow it easily (like in the pic). I use bread only for the purpose of demonstrating the process, but you can use worms, crickets or other bait. (look under rocks or under the bark of dead trees)

When the fish swallows the bait and pulls back, the hook is pulled into a horizontal position and gets stuck in the throat of the fish.

Step 8: How It Works

When the fish bites and the hook gets stuck in the throat of the fish, the fish will tendt o pull on the fishing line and release the trigger.

At this point, the spring stick is let loose and pulls the fish out of the water! (see videos)

So, after you mounted the trap, you can go relax, work on your survival shelter or whatever you want! :D

I know for sure that, after I learned how to build this trap, I won't die of hunger if I'm in a survival situation and there is water around with fish in it!


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    8 Discussions


    3 months ago

    just wondering im in australia what country are you

    1 reply

    2 years ago

    I will definitely try this!


    2 years ago

    That was really well done and what's best is you used the inner bark for the cordage and made your own hook!

    I've wanted to do this for years now and you have motivated me to do so...

    Do you think barbs on the hook would be beneficial or is the hook you made sufficient?

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    I'm glad this instructable motivated you to try it. Just try to use materials in a wise way, by not damaging the nature too much as it's becoming more and more precious nowadays.
    In theory this hook should be quite efficient. I must admit, I haven't really tried it as I wanted only to test the mechanism. You can make different types of hooks out of barbs, but combining them would not be efficient I think because this hook is big enough and adding barbs to it would make it even more difficult to put the bait on. Plus, the gorge hook is intended to rotate when the fish bites so I can't see how adding barbs would help.


    2 years ago

    Is there any purpose to cutting all the way around the tree for cordage fibers? Doing so kills the tree so I wouldn't want to do that if there's an alternative that leaves it alive.

    2 replies

    Reply 2 years ago

    You're right mate. It was the first time I made chordage from tree bark so I wasn't sure exactly how much I would need. This process surely damages the tree, but I made sure I chose from a spot where a lot of small trees were next to another. They wouldn't have all grown up to be big trees.
    Preserving nature is one of my big concerns too, but try to see it as bonding with the nature, getting back to the roots, as you take no more than you need. Nature is destroyed by industrialization.
    These small projects really make me apprecuate nature even more.
    But, as I said, the same process can be done with inner bark from a dead tree as well. The only difference is that you have to get it wet.
    Thank you for writing, it makes me happy to see more and more people care about nature.


    Reply 2 years ago

    Thanks for the thoughtful response! I'm always glad to see more people interested in both survival skills and land stewardship.