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A fishing kit is a great addition to any backpack. It doesn’t matter if you are hiking, day camping, or staying out for more than a week in the backcountry.
The way we build this fishing kit is small and compact. It doesn’t take up much room in your backpack (so you have more room for other backpacking gear). Each of us have something similar in our backpacks. Just in case (and for the fun of it).
Supplies You Need
- container (shot shells, prescription bottle, etc.)
- dry bait
- strong fishing line
You can create this kit in a prescription bottle or in a couple of used shot shells that you have trimmed the crimped edges off of.
There is a little more space in the prescription bottle for larger lures. I also throw the line in the bottle.
When I make them with the shot shells, the line is wrapped around the outside and then covered with a piece of rubber tubing to hold it in place.
You can wrap regular fishing line for whichever kit you decide to build. I add this super strong Power Pro fishing line because it doesn’t tangle or crimp as bad. It can also be used for other survival situations if needed.
How to Set Up a Willow Stick
The kit is all made. You are ready to head out into the woods and do a little creek fishing. This is a great activity to get the kids involved in (or the wife). She spends way less time tangled in the weeds when she fishes with a willow stick.
Hopefully, you are already packing a multitool or a good pocket knife. You will need one to cut a willow stick as well as your stronger fishing line.
Pick a willow stick (or any other long straight stick that you can find) that is about as tall as you are. Maybe even a little taller. You won’t really be “casting” so you need the reach of a longer stick to get into the good fishing holes!
Once you have chosen a stick and have it cut, trim off all the branches. You want a smooth pole that your line won’t catch on.
Now that your willow stick is all cleaned off, it is time to add the fishing line and lures.
Find a place to work that you won’t be dropping little items into the grass and losing them (and definitely try not work over running water!).
Use your multitool or pocket knife and cut a couple shallow grooves toward the top of your stick (about 1/2 inch down). Make them as even as possible (opposite sides from each other on the stick).
This will be where you tie on the fishing line. They don’t have to be very deep. Just deep enough that the line won’t slip out of them and then slide off the end of the fishing pole.
Unwrap a little bit of line from your fishing kit. You only need about 6-8 inches loosened. Leave it connected to the kit. This is where you will start to tie the line on your fishing pole.
Wrap the line around the tip of the pole a few times. Inside the notches that you cut. After you have wrapped it 3 or four times, tie a square not (or a lure knot) to secure it in place. Trim the extra line off (the small piece).
Unspool or unwrap enough line to go past the length of the stick. Depending on how long your fishing pole is, you might need to unwind an additional 2 or 3 feet. On average around 7 or 8 feet of line should be good.
Cut the fishing line off of the fishing kit. You don’t need to tuck the end back into the rubber tubing. It can hang out a little so it is easier to grab when you need it the next time.
TIP: Keep the line on the larger shot shell if you are using this method for a fishing kit. Tuck it down toward the brass end so it doesn’t get caught when you are opening and closing the fishing kit.
Choosing the Bait for Your Fishing Pole
Decide what type of lure or bait you want to use for this fishing trip.
Spend some time watching the fish in the creek to see what they are feeding on.
If they are raising to the top and eating bugs, you probably want to use a dry fly.
Use a hook and live bait if they seem to be feeding closer to the bottom of the creek.
Mix it up a bit if nothing seems to be working. On this day, the fish loved the sinkers more than they loved anything on the hook. Super frustrating!
Add a few sinkers to your line if you need your bait to go underwater. The more sinkers you add the faster your line and lure will sink to the bottom.
A willow stick with a fishing kit is all you need for a full day of fishing fun. We spent a good 4 hours crawling all over these logs and chasing the fish around in this hole.
Landing a fish on a willow is a little different than using a regular fishing pole. You don’t have a reel or a way to ease the fish into the bank. Mrs. T managed to catch a few but lost them before she could get them up on the bank each time.
After fishing for a bit, she realized that when you feel them bite it is easier to just set the hook and then “whip” the fish up onto the bank. This also gives them less time to swallow the hook, so it makes catch and release easier too.
Build Your Own Fishing Pole
Building a fishing pole using this fishing kit is very simple. They also last a long time. Mrs. T has stashed her willow stick in a tree so she can continue to use it whenever we go hike in this spot.
It is easy enough to wrap the line around the willow stick and carry it up and down the stream while we explore. Each time a new fishing hole is discovered, the willow pole is right there with her. Ready to catch a fish (well maybe…she spends some time singing “here fishy, fishy”).