The 6 Best Survival Fishing Kits For Any Scenario
Fishing is one of my all-time favorite hobbies. It’s fun and relaxing, and it’s a great way to commune with nature. It’s also one of my favorite ways to get delicious, wild fish for the dinner table.
But in a survival situation, fishing is also one of the best ways to provide much-needed calories and energy. Whether you’re in a true SHTF scenario or you’re just lost on a hike, a good survival fishing kit can be a literal lifesaver.
That’s why I’ve put together this list of the best survival fishing kits for any scenario. It includes compact, bug-out bag options, as well as bigger and more thorough kits. I’ve also included tips on how to choose a kit, what to look for in a good one, and even how to make your own DIY survival fishing kit.
Why You Need A Survival Fishing Kit
There are plenty of essential survival gear items, but a good survival fishing kit is one of the most often overlooked.
The fact is that even the most well-prepared folks can only pack so much extra food. Food is heavy, bulky, and prone to spoiling. If you’re going to be truly prepared, you need a reliable way to provide fresh food for as long as you have to.
That’s where a survival fishing kit comes in. Fishing is one of the easiest and most reliable methods of catching your own dinner. Almost anywhere you find yourself will have some sort of lake, river, or stream nearby, and almost all of them support fish. That means a survival fishing kit will be useful in most (if not all) survival situations.
Fishing can also be passive, freeing your time up to do other important tasks. And though trapping and hunting are options, too, catching fish has the highest chance of being successful.
Any solid survival kit should at least include some fishing gear, but having the right gear is just as important as having any at all.
What Should Be In An Emergency Fishing Kit?
If you’re going to catch fish, you need the right gear. Plenty of survival fishing kits boast their number of pieces or include weird gadgets, but the best survival fishing kits all share a few things. Even a basic survival fishing kit will be useful as long as it provides value, versatility, quality/durability, and enough of the right items.
Essential Fishing Supplies
There are plenty of bonus items that can be useful, but every emergency fishing kit includes a useful amount of all of these items:
- Hooks (at least 10, no matter the size of the kit)
- Line (I consider 50 feet to be the absolute minimum)
- Lures/Bait (At least 5 options)
- Sinkers (minimum of 10)
Then there are bonus items. These might not be found in a compact survival fishing kit, but they provide extra utility when you can afford the space and weight. Some of these include:
- Bobbers or floats
- Hand reels
- Automatic reels
- Self-snagging rigs (check local regulations before using)
- Gill-net (rarely legal, so use in survival situations only!)
- Collapsible fishing rod
- Survival knife
The value of these bonus items depends on how much space you have or the weight you want to carry. Collapsible fishing poles or gill nets are too heavy for backpacking, but might be great additions to your vehicle’s survival kit.
Versatility is arguably the most important part of any survival fishing kit. You never know where you’ll end up or what fish will be available, so your kit needs to work for every fish species and location.
Good kits will have an assortment of supplies for many different species. Multiple hook sizes, line weights, lures and baits, and sinkers are essential.
Hooks need to range from small #8 panfish hooks all the way up to at least #2 hooks for bigger fish. There should also be a few baitholders and a few circle hooks (because they set themselves).
A variety of line tests is ideal, with some 10-15 pound line for smaller fish like yellow perch, and something heavier for bigger fish like pike or bass. I like kits that have monofilament for wary fish, and some heavy braided line for passive fishing.
Lures and bait selection vary a lot from species to species, so the best kits have a selection of different colors and styles. Small rubber jigs are a must, and small spoons will catch just about anything. If the kit comes with bait (like salmon eggs or fake worms), then all the better.
For sinkers, split shot is the most useful option. But a good kit should have at least a couple of bullet sinkers or egg sinkers for passive bottom fishing rigs, too.
Having the right gear means nothing if it breaks when you use it. The best survival fishing kits use quality materials from reputable manufacturers. They also take steps to make sure it doesn’t degrade in your bug-out bag.
At the absolute minimum, your kit needs to be in a watertight package. Even a small amount of moisture will rust hooks and degrade fishing line. Heavy plastic works best, but some metal tins can be great, too. Desiccant packets are a great bonus, which helps to eliminate any moisture that might get in.
Then there’s the quality of the gear itself. This can be hard to assess, but if the kit lists manufacturers, you can bet they’re good ones. Stainless steel hooks are less prone to rust, braided line is more durable than monofilament, and metal lures last longer than rubber ones.
That doesn’t mean that less durable options aren’t useful or that everything needs to be bomb-proof. But the more durable your gear is, the better it will serve you in a survival situation.
I’ve looked at tons of survival fishing kits that try to mark up their price based on stats like the number of pieces, special equipment, and even social media marketing hype. But hype doesn’t catch fish, and the best kits don’t need to be expensive.
The kits with the best value are well-thought-out and include only things that you’ll actually use. Small instruction booklets also provide a ton of extra value, because even experienced anglers might not know survival fishing tactics.
With all that said, a good survival fishing kit shouldn’t cost more than 30 or 40 dollars. If you’re spending more than that, it’s safe to say you’re spending too much.
The Best Survival Fishing Kits For Every Situation
Without further ado, here are the best survival fishing kits. Every fishing kit on this list is worth the money, but I’ve organized them by what they’re best for to help you decide which one you need.
Best Overall: Vigilant Trails Survival Fishing Kit Stage 3
If I had to pick one, do-it-all survival fishing kit, the Vigilant Trails Stage 3 would be my pick. It has just enough of all the essential items to catch fish, plus a couple of bonus pieces for true passive fishing. Here are the specs:
- MSRP: $31.88
- Essential Contents: 8 hooks of various sizes (plus 2 jighead hooks), 9 soft plastic lures, 10 sinkers (two 1/2 ounce bank sinkers and eight BB split shot), 50 feet of 20-pound monofilament line, 2 coated wire leaders, 1 clip-on bobber, 3 soft bait corn kernels
- Bonus Fishing Gear: Hand reel, self-snag hook, yo-yo automatic reel with line
- Tools/Extras: Small lock-back knife, hook remover, small line-cutter, high-vis paracord, first-aid kit, instruction booklet
Why It’s The Best Survival Fishing Kit
This kit is the best overall because it strikes the perfect balance of just enough essential contents, packability, and a few bonus features for passive fishing.
There are enough hooks in different sizes to catch any fish (with backups), and the provided line works for just about anything. The lure selection is phenomenal, with large worms in various colors, a few grubs for panfish, and jighead hooks for versatility. It’s all quality gear, too, and the watertight package will keep it that way.
I also love that it includes a detailed instruction booklet. There’s a page for tying knots and basic fishing rigs, as well as a page for tactics. It even gives you tips on catching fish in every season, time of day, and water body. These tips could be crucial to making sure your fishing rig is ideal for your situation.
The best feature of this kit is its emphasis on passive fishing. The self-snag rig will set the hook on a fish, ensuring that you land every fish that bites. And the automatic yo-yo reel is capable of pulling even medium-sized fish all the way to the bank. You can set and forget it, and still guarantee you’ll catch dinner.
The only drawback to this kit is that it includes a couple of items that you might already carry. You’ll likely already have a knife, and paracord should be in every bug-out bag already. These add a little weight and bulk that might be unnecessary for some people.
If it’s going to be your main survival kit, though, these extra pieces are useful and add to the kit’s versatility.
Most Thorough: Stanford Outdoor Supply B.O.S.S Fishing Kit
When weight and bulk aren’t an issue, the B.O.S.S kit is hands-down the most thorough option on the market. It has tons of gear (127 pieces, to be exact), but none of it is fluff. Everything that comes in this kit is genuinely useful, and the amount of backup gear is great for a longer-term, SHTF scenario.
Here are the specs:
- MSRP: $34.99
- Weight: .61 lbs
- Essential Contents: 30 baitholder hooks, 4 jig heads, 25 sinkers, 100 yards of 8-pound fishing line, 20 feet of 50-pound line, 10 soft plastic lures, 5 salmon eggs, 2 foam floats
- Bonus Fishing Gear: yo-yo automatic fishing reel, 20 swivels, 1 stringer
- Tools/Extras: multi-tool, slingshot band, slingshot ammo, zip ties, snare wire, razor blade, survival instruction booklet
Why It Made The List
There are plenty of survival kits out there that are loaded with stuff you’ll never use. But this very thorough kit only has solid, multi-use survival supplies, and plenty of them. It has more hooks, line, and lures than any other kit on the list, so if you need a TEOTWAWKI survival fishing kit, then this is the one for you.
There’s no one “best feature,” on this kit. Its best feature is its ample backup gear and multi-use tools for any scenario. And it’s not just a fishing kit; it even has some trapping and hunting gear for some more food-gathering options.
Though this kit is comprehensive, it includes stuff that some people might not have the skills to use. If you prefer simplicity, then the other kits on this list will save you some weight and space.
Best Ultralight: Uncle Flint’s Survival Fishing Kit
I don’t know who Uncle Flint is, but I do know that he makes a great fishing kit. Uncle Flint’s Survival Fishing Kit is the best around when it comes to what you get for space and weight. It’s a small kit with big value, and it has everything you need to catch any freshwater fish. Here are the specs:
- MSRP: $29.99
- Weight: 5.6 oz
- Essential Contents: 18 assorted hooks (plus two treble hooks), 3 floating head lures, 50 feet of 20-pound fishing line, 50 feet of 40-pound line, 4 wire leaders, 6 soft plastic grubs, 10 sinkers, 2 bobbers
- Bonus Fishing Gear: 8 assorted swivels, a spinner, a spoon, a fly lure
- Tools/Extras: knot tying instruction booklet, razor blade, 4 safety pins, aluminum foil
Why It Made The List
At 5.6 oz with 63 pieces of gear, this is the best light fishing kit you can buy. Kits in this weight class rarely have as many hooks or as much fishing line as this one, and treble hooks and a wide variety of lures make this kit super versatile. It’s designed for freshwater fishing, but the line and leaders are heavy enough for saltwater if you add some heavier weights to it.
The gear is also very high-quality, so you know it won’t let you down in the field.
The inclusion of a spoon lure (the most versatile fishing lure known to man) sets this kit apart from almost every other kit I’ve looked at. It’s a very active, highly productive lure, and gives you an extra option when passive fishing isn’t working.
This kit doesn’t include a hand reel, so you’ll need to find or make one to keep your line organized. The tin isn’t perfectly watertight either, which could lead to durability issues depending on how and where it’s stored.
Best Ultralight Runner-Up: Best Glide ASE Survival Fishing Kit (Standard)
I had to add the Best Glide ASE kit to the list because the “best ultralight” kit was such a close call. This kit is my runner-up because it’s a little light on hooks, sinkers, and lures, but it’s still a great ultralight kit.
- MSRP: $21.95
- Weight: 4.1 oz
- Essential Contents: 9 assorted hooks (plus two treble hooks), 3 jigs, 50 feet of 12-pound fishing line, 8 weights, 4 wire leaders, 1 bobber, tube of salmon eggs or crappie nibbles
- Bonus Fishing Gear: 25 feet of 30-pound pre-rigged “ready line”, 2 flies, 1 spoon
- Tools/Extras: 1 derma-safe utility knife, fishing instruction booklet
Why It Made The List
Though Uncle Flint’s barely beat Best Glide ASE for my favorite ultralight kit, this kit still deserves a spot on this list. It’s so small it could fit in a coat pocket, but it provides a ton of versatility for catching freshwater fish. With the option of using flies, jigs, spoons, and even salmon eggs for bait, you have a ton of options to up your odds of catching fish.
It’s also thoughtfully designed by survival specialists and is put together with high-quality gear.
The 30-pound “ready line” is hands-down the best feature in this kit. It’s 25 feet of line that’s pre-rigged with a hook, bobber, and sinker, so all you need to do is add bait and you’re ready to fish. This is amazing for beginners, or for quickly catching fish without having to set up a rig.
I would like to see more hooks, sinkers, and soft plastics, because this kit doesn’t leave much room for error. It’s a simple and small kit, so it shouldn’t be expected to provide weeks of food, but even a few more backup items would go a long way.
Honorable Mention: Rule The Wasteland Deluxe Survival Fishing Kit
The Rule The Wasteland survival fishing kit doesn’t exactly fit into my categories, but I like this kit a lot and think it deserves a spot on the list. It didn’t quite win any category because though it has a lot of gear, it’s a little lacking in true versatility. If you know what you’re doing, though, or you know it’s perfect for your area, this kit is a great value.
- MSRP: $32.95
- Essential Contents: 10 large hooks, 25 small hooks, 3 treble hooks, 1 jig head, 30 yards of 30-pound fishing line, 50 yards of 15-pound line, 8 grub lures, 1 minnow lure, 3 bobbers, 6 split shot sinkers, 3 egg sinkers, 3 wire leaders
- Bonus Fishing Gear: 1 fly lure, 12 bobber stoppers, 3 swivels
- Tools/Extras: 2 razor blades, 1 multi-tool
Why It Made The List
The Rule The Wasteland Deluxe Kit is great for anglers who already know what they’re doing. It comes with a ton of gear for its size, and the variety should catch many different fish species.
Most survival fishing kits skimp on hooks, but this one has plenty in every size imaginable. If you can gather your own live bait (like worms or grasshoppers), you’ll have enough hooks for weeks of fishing.
Another great feature is its locking screw for extra waterproofing. That’s unusual in a tin kit, but it adds a lot to durability.
The lack of an instruction booklet makes this kit less usable for people who don’t already have angling skills. It also doesn’t have enough lures to match its hook count, so you’ll need to be able to gather bait to fully take advantage of it.
The Best Survival Fishing Kit: Build Your Own DIY Kit
There are a lot of great canned kits, but the best kit will always be one you build yourself. You can match contents to your exact needs, and make sure the size and weight are perfect. Not only that, but you can buy the highest quality gear for extra dependability.
This requires a little bit of angling knowledge to perfect, but here’s a quick rundown of what I put in my own survival fishing kit.
Build Your Own Kit: Packaging Options
The best fishing kits have durable, waterproof packaging, so I prefer to go with plastic. It doesn’t degrade like metal and it’s easier to get a good seal. Some of my favorite options include:
- a 4-6 inch length of 1″ PVC pipe, with endcaps
- Heavy-duty quart-sized freezer ziploc
- Pelican Marine Series waterproof phone pouch (truly watertight and floating)
You can explore options to fit your needs for durability, waterproofing, and size, but these three are great starting points.
Survival Fishing Essentials
My own survival fishing kit is of the SHTF variety, so I like to load it up with hooks, lures, and split shot. If your kit is for backpacking and you want it to be lighter, you can omit a few of each. Here’s roughly what I put in my kit:
- 30 hooks (5 #8 baitholders, 5 #4 baitholders, 5 #8 egg hooks, 5 #4 circle hooks, 5 #2 circle or octopus hooks, 5 #4 treble hooks)
- 5 1/8 oz jig heads
- 15-20 assorted split shot (a good variation from size B to size 5)
- 3-5 1/2 oz egg sinkers
- 100 yards of 30-pound braided fishing line (more durable than mono)
- 50 yards of 10-pound monofilament line (for leaders)
- 5-10 2-inch curly tail grubs (assorted colors)
- 5 Senko worm lures
- 1 small pack of salmon eggs (I like Atlas Mikes Sac Attack)
- 2 spoons (1/8 oz Kastmasters)
- 3 foam or cork bobbers (foam and cork can’t break like plastic)
- 4 20-pound wire leaders
There are tons of creative ways to store your gear. The important thing to think about when deciding how to organize your gear in your kit is how easy it will be to use and put away.
When it comes to fishing line, I like to wrap it around a small plastic sewing bobbin and secure it with tape. You could also wrap it around one of your cork bobbers to save space.
If I’m using a plastic bag for my kit, I’ll put anything sharp in a small pill bottle. That keeps the hooks from piercing the plastic bag. This includes my spoons, hooks, and any other lures I might add.
Hooks and sinkers can both go in their own small plastic jewelry bags. If you like to be super organized, you can secure your hooks into a small piece of cardboard and then place that in a small plastic bag.
Bait and lures can also go in small plastic jewelry bags. I like to take them out of their original packaging to save space.
The above contents cover the essentials, but there are a few things you can add to make your kit extremely effective. These all add weight and bulk, so you’ll have to decide if they’re worth it for your situation. But some of my favorites are:
- Yo-yo automatic reel
- Fishing pole (the Emmrod Packer pack rod is an incredible compact option)
- Ultralight spinning reel
- Hand reel (the Ka-bar backpacker is a great pre-made option)
- Slingshot caster (works best with heavier weights)
- Speedhook spring-loaded fish trap
- Knives, multi-tools, or extra cordage
The Emmrod pack rod is one of the most useful pieces of extra gear, because the coil spring lets you cast far with a tiny rod. It’s expensive and relatively heavy, though, so a small slingshot is another great way to cast farther.
Then passive options like the yo-yo reel or speedhook military fishing kit add versatility and free up your time. In an SHTF scenario, options that allow you to set and forget for a while can be huge time-savers.
Finally, there are knives, multi-tools, and extra cordage. I don’t put these with my fishing gear because they’re already in my survival kit, but if you don’t have them already then you should add them. Utility knives or razor blades are ultralight and compact, and these tiny multi-tools are strong and light options.
Of all the optional add-ons, I think an automatic yo-yo reel is probably the most useful. But it all depends on your needs, so think about where you’ll keep the kit and when you might need it before going all out.
Fishing is probably the best way to provide food in a survival situation. That’s why everyone needs a survival fishing kit, and none of the kits on this list will let you down.
And if you’re browsing for a survival fishing kit or building your own, then you should know exactly what to look for. Good luck and tight lines!