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How To Use A Fish Stringer With Technique

Written by: Pete Danylewycz
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Do you like to wade for flounder? Or spend a Saturday morning on your kayak pulling bluegill from the local lake? Or do you hunt smallmouth from a canoe, getting into the shallow stretches that motorized boats just can’t reach?

If you’re anything like me, there are plenty of times a cooler or live-well just isn’t an option, and in situations like these, a stringer is an angler’s best friend!

If you’ve never used a stringer before, you may not know how to keep your fish on one. And if you’re an old hand at the stringer game, do you know the technique that keeps your fish alive and swimming the longest? Read on to learn how to use a fish string!

Related: Top Rated Fishing Pliers For Fresh and Saltwater, Top Fish Scales To Weigh Your Catch

Fish Stringers Explained

how to use a fish stringer

A stringer is a simple tool for keeping your fish alive while they remain secured. Essentially, it turns the water around you into a live well, keeping your catch fresh and kicking as you continue to fish.

Types of Stringers

Ranging in design from the simple to the complex, stringers come in a variety of shapes and sizes suited to different species.

Rope Or Poly Stringers

At their simplest, stringers can be nothing more than a length of tough line like paracord with a spike at one end and a ring on the other. This version from Paracord Planet is tough, no-nonsense, and useful for everything from trout to flounder.

By adding a lanyard and float, ForEverlast takes that simple design to the next level, and if you like to wade, it’s hard to beat this product. The float and lanyard keep your hands free and your fish where they belong!

Chain Stringer

For kayakers and canoers, Eagle Claw’s chain stringer is a great option, offering nine clips and unbeatable security for panfish. The final clip--separated by a bit more chain--is just fastened directly to your boat or a quick knot of paracord, providing a secure connection for up to eight fish.

And for larger species like reds, Rogue Endeavor’s got you covered with a massive stringer that’s strong enough for whatever you’d be willing to attach to your kayak!

Whichever design suits your needs, they all function pretty much the same. You’ll find some device for passing through your fish.

The only trick is how this is done.

How To Use A Fish String

The right way to use a stringer is surprisingly simple--and it keeps your fish alive longer than the alternatives.

Whatever design you’ve chosen, you pass the sharp end into the fish’s mouth, down through the thin membrane, and out the underside of its mouth.

That orients the fish more vertically in the water and doesn’t risk damage to its delicate gills. The result is that it breathes more easily and lives longer, keeping your catch fresh until you’re ready to clean it.

This gentleman has it right!

Unfortunately, many anglers see the gills as a ready-made entrance for the stringer, passing it through these easily-damaged structures and out through the mouth.

If you like dead fish, this is an excellent technique!

Don’t do this!

Worse still, you’ll see people who think that stringers are for holding their catch clear from the water! Dead fish and lots of flies and yellow jackets are the common result.

Don’t be this angler!

Final Thoughts

As easy to use as they are essential, stringers deserve a place in every angler’s arsenal. And with the right know-how, you’ll keep your catch alive and kicking longer.

I hope that this article has helped you learn to use a stringer correctly, and I’d love to hear from you if it has!

Please leave a comment below.

About The Author
Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Pete grew up fishing on the Great Lakes. Whether he's casting a line in a quiet freshwater stream or battling a monster bass, fishing is his true passion.
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1 year ago

I fish in colder waters here in Western Canada. On a typical summer day, we will use a stringer for walleye or large northern pike. These typically range in size from 3lb walleye to over 25lb northern pike, sometimes larger.
Our typical summer temperatures range from 55F (12C) to 95F (35C). Water temperatures vary from mid 50F to 70F.
We typically kill our fish before putting them on the stringer. We insert the "gill prod" into the gill and out the mouth. We keep them in the water, over the side of the boat, to keep them cold and fresh for filleting later in the day. We find that if we don't kill them, they will make a tangled mess of the stringer.
I have developed a heavy duty stringer for these fish that will easily hold a dozen or more of them..

Cher Anderson
Cher Anderson
1 year ago

How do you put more than one trout on the stringer - the poly line type?

Jason Ellis
Jason Ellis
2 years ago

THANKS Pete! I had one of these nylon guys in a tackle kit and had no idea what it was for, was trying to find a fish storage solution for my kayak and you came through.

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