Survival is something to take seriously. Whether you get lost on a long hike, get turned around in the woods while hunting, or find yourself without power or a grocery store after a hurricane, being prepared matters.
Fishing is among the most energy-efficient ways to feed yourself in the wild, and a good survival fishing kit is an element of every serious bug-out bag.
But if you’re not sure where to start, you need the advice of real fishermen.
Why? Most of the kits available online are toys, at best.
That’s why we’re here to help. Below, you’ll find reviews of some of our favorites, a few points to consider when selecting a survival fishing kit, and instructions for building your own:
Table of Contents (clickable)
You may initially balk at the relative price of Uncle Flint’s kit, but that extra money buys quality and forethought, two things that make any survival situation a lot easier.
Like the Best Glide ASE kit, this one comes packed in a sturdy tin, a very good start for a fishing kit that you’ll need to depend on.
The quality of this kit’s contents is clear.
And right away, you’ll notice that you’re provided a wide range of hook sizes as well as two trebles. That’s exactly what you’re looking for to allow you to match hook size to fish (and bait) size, and these hooks have you covered from panfish to catfish and croakers to blues.
Three colorful jig heads of various weights, an inline spinner, a spoon, and a fly offer plenty of lure options, and the kit even includes a number of plastic, curly-tailed grubs for the jig heads.
The only problem with the spinner and spoon is that without a reel, you can’t pull these through the water properly. Could they catch fish anyway? Maybe, but I wouldn’t count on it.
Even with that reservation, this is as good as it gets among available survival kits, and you’ve got as many options as are reasonable in a small, stowable tin.
Four swivel-tipped bite-proof leaders, plenty of additional swivels, two small bobbers, and some lead split shot round out the useful fishing gear, and these are all items an experienced angler would include, no question about it.
Uncle Flint has even thought to include some heavy-duty aluminum foil and knot-tying instructions, both of which can be game-changers. The foil can allow you to cook your catch, capture rainwater, waterproof a shelter, and do any number of things beyond fishing. And if you’re unfamiliar with fishing knots and think a Granny knot will do, you’ll be really glad for the instructions.
50 feet of 40-pound test and 50 feet of 20-pound test round out this kit, and here we’re a bit less impressed. We get why they opted for heavier line - you may need to do something else with this “cordage” - but for small fish and small hooks, 20-pound test is a no-go.
They’ll see this line and never come near your hook, decreasing the odds that you’ll be feeding yourself on trout or panfish - both of which are plentiful.
That said, 20-pound test and a medium-sized hook will get a lot done on a beach - but 50 feet isn’t enough line to work with. Connecting the two lines is a good start, especially if you know the Double Uni Knot, which is ideal for joining dissimilar line diameters like these.
Overall, this is a capable kit, and with a few minor adjustments, it’s one I’d pack myself.
BCB’s International Survival Fishing Kit is a popular option with preppers and others who want a light, tiny, packable emergency option for feeding themselves in the wild.
Unfortunately, it’s not a great real-world option.
This kit is small, but it doesn’t offer many real-world options.
One thing that anglers discover quickly is that hooks are not “one size fits all.” Typically, smaller fish demand diminutive hooks, though there are exceptions like the crappie.
In this case, BCB offers four hooks of equal size, all of which are on the large end for anything smaller than largemouth bass. In saltwater, these may be acceptable as all-arounders for anything from flounder to croaker or perhaps something a bit bigger.
The two “lures” are of such low quality that enticing a fish with them will be far more work than it should be. Possible, yes; but likely? No.
Additionally, their weight is so low that casting them any distance at all will be next to impossible. Attaching one of the two lead sinkers will certainly increase that distance, but even then, neither lure will be very effective.
But should you manage to hook a reasonable fish with this kit, your trouble will really begin.
The included line is approximately 8- to 10-pound test, but it’s very poorly made. That leads to kinks, breakage, and a lot of hassle when you finally try to use it. The only good news is that there’s lots of it.
For size, weight, and cost, this kit is a good choice.
For actually feeding yourself in an emergency, you can do much better.
Best Glide’s ASE Survival Fishing Kit comes packed in a sturdy, water-resistant can - a good start, frankly, since the can is also a useful item for survival.
For its intended purpose, this survival fishing kit offers acceptable performance, and it’s clear that someone who’s actually fished helped select the included items.
There’s some good stuff here.
Six “baitholder” hooks of various sizes are offered, and for those of you who might not know that term, this means that the shank of the hook has tiny barbs that help hold worms, crickets, and other bait items in place, making them far more effective in the water.
That’s a nice touch, as is the varying size of these hooks. Two cigar-style floats can keep your live bait off the bottom, and the lead sinkers can help you rig them in a variety of effective styles.
You’ll also find two lead jig heads armed with plastic lures. The weight of those jigs make casting possible, and both the white and chartreuse green are colors that work in the real world, so again, count us as impressed.
They’ve included a length of wire leader, too, which prevents toothsome species like pike or bluefish from tearing through your line.
You get 50 feet of 12-pound test - not a lot for actual fishing - an almost useless hand reel, and a small pack of “salmon eggs” that can be added to your hook as an attractant.
These are the weaker aspects of this kit, and whether you’re trying to feed yourself on a lake, river, stream, pond, or beach, 50 feet of line is not nearly enough.
The bottom line? Best Glide’s ASE Survival Fishing Kit is a tremendous improvement over the BCB, but it’s still not something I’d want to rely on when I’m hungry, cold, and alone.
As an all-arounder for both hunting and fishing, Off Grid Tools’ survival kit is hard to beat. It comes stored in a resealable, heavy-duty plastic pouch, and while not quite as useful as a tin, it can still perform double-duty as a rain catcher and water holder in a pinch.
I’ll be leaving the hunting items to the side in this review and focusing on the fishing equipment it provides.
Hooks are generally irreplaceable in the wild, and one thing I really like about this kit is that you get 30 of them, including jig heads. That’s nice, and they vary in size enough to be useful for a variety of species.
You’ll also find a small package of curly-tailed grubs, an excellent lure option, and some “salmon eggs” that you can add to a hook as an attractant.
You could do a lot worse than this kit.
You’ll also have 20 swivels at your disposal, 100 yards of 8-pound test, and 20 feet of 50-pound test for tough, but relatively clear, leaders.
Those swivels are accessories you’ll need to prevent line twist, and you’ll be glad to have them if you use this kit when it’s just you against hunger.
The lighter line provides plenty of practical length, and in truth, 8-pound test is fine for anything you’ll be catching with a hand line.
Off Grid Tools also includes a “yo-yo” reel, but you’re probably better off finding another use for this item. It’s much easier to cast by hand and retrieve by winding your line around a discarded plastic bottle or branch.
And a nice touch: they’ve given you a 6-foot stringer for your catch!
If I were stuck in the wilderness for a few days and relying on a kit to feed myself, this would be a good place to start.
Overall, though, I think I’d rather have the kit from Uncle Flint.
Too many of the survival options you’ll find are little more than gimmicks, and almost all of them will leave you hard-pressed to catch any fish.
To give yourself the best chance to catch much-needed food, you’ll want to keep the following considerations in mind.
Poorly made hooks and line simply break, leaving you with less raw survival material than you had before.
You should be looking for line that can hold its rated test strength for a start. But there’s more to quality line than that.
Monofilament fishing line is made from nylon, and when it’s wound tightly around a small object, it “remembers” that shape and forms tight spirals. These impair casting distance, invite tangles, and generally just work less well than limp, straight line.
The best kits will leave the line in larger spools, and any kit - including one you assemble yourself - should leave the line in loops as large as its container can physically accommodate.
Hooks are never “one size fits all,” and though you’d think otherwise from most kits, you’re generally better served by smaller hooks.
Big fish can take and be caught on a small hook, but the reverse isn’t true. And as a general rule, there are far more small fish than big ones, especially close to the shore where you’ll be fishing with a hand line.
I like to see a few hooks of various sizes, and options like bait holders - which keep live bait on your hook - are always a nice thing to find.
Options like jig heads that can be tipped with plastic baits or worms, insects, fish guts, or other live bait are supremely useful.
They cast nicely without any additional weight being added, and they work surprisingly well.
I also like to have a variety of options. As any angler can tell you, fish can be finicky about what they take, and having more choices is always better than having fewer.
Fishing line can do a lot more than fight a meal, so it makes sense to include some heavy-weight options.
But for actual fishing, heavy thick line is very visible in the water, and plenty of species are “line shy,” meaning that they won’t go near a hook that’s held by line they can see.
Add to that the abundance of smaller fish, and you can see why I look for line in the 8- to 10-pound range - and plenty of it!
50 feet of line sounds like a lot until you realize that a normal spool holds hundreds of yards of line. You need length for casting, length for tying, and length for discarding when it inevitably gets damaged.
As you can see from our reviews, I can recommend the Uncle Flint survival fishing kit as a good option for a commercially available kit. It’s as good an option as you’ll find out there, and there’s plenty to say in its favor.
But you can probably assemble a superior kit for roughly the same price.
If that interests you, let’s start at the top.
You’ll want the following items:
So far, the ingredients in this kit come out to about $43, and there’s more than enough to make two full survival fishing kits here.
Not only are these better components than any commercially available kit, they’re overall a better buy, too.
Throw in some folded heavy-duty aluminum foil and a small Bic lighter, and you’ve got a better kit than you can buy!
As you can see, though, I’ve elected not to include some staples of the commercial kits, and I’d like to explain why.
While bite-proof leaders can make sense when you’re fishing for species with a lot of teeth, that’s not as common as you’d think, especially in fresh or brackish water. Most of the time, you’ll be catching panfish, perch, trout, flounder, croaker, and the like, and a leader just isn’t necessary.
They also take up much-needed space and increase the cost of the kit.
I’ve also skipped flies and lure types that demand a reel - things like inline spinners and spoons. Yes, these are undeniably effective but also impossible to work without the right tackle - which you won’t have in your kit.
While most of the products available online are all but useless, the survival fishing kit from Uncle Flint is a good buy.
Yes, it’s a bit pricier than the competition, but those extra dollars buy quality, and from the line to the hooks, the lures to the swivels,the leaders to the floats, what you get will actually allow you to fish with a reasonable chance of success.
We like the hook and lure selection a lot, and the choice of two line strengths (or the option of connecting them together) is something you’ll really appreciate in the event you need to feed yourself with what you can catch.
The downside to all of these pre-made kits is that for a roughly equivalent price, you can put your own together, ending up with vastly better quality and a lot more of the essentials like line and hooks.