Fishing Tackle in Your Prep Kit
Fishing can be a very effective way to sustain yourself in a survival situation, and can take up very little space in a prep kit if you want it to. Although a full fishing setup is optimal, you can get away with the bare essentials if you need to. There are a couple of key things you will want to consider when packing your prep kit for survival.
1. Fishing Line - There is a plethora of different fishing lines out on the market. Monofilament fishing line is your standard fishing line. It has a couple attributes which are bad for prepping and fishing in general, the number one being, it has a shelf life of about 2 years, and can be much less depending on how much sun exposure it gets. It also floats, so if your bait/fly/lure doesn't sink, it will land on the meniscus of the water, and any light rays passing through your line will throw a shadow underneath which can spook some fish. And if it does sink, monofilament fishing line has a much different translucency than water. To a fish, it can look like a drinking straw is coming off your hook in the right conditions. The line you want is Fluorocarbon Fishing line. It lasts for hundreds of years, with or without sun exposure. It sinks without weight, and accurately matches the translucency of water. Pound for pound, it's much better than monofilament, but it cost about 3 times more. 8lb test is a good standard for most of North America, but a range of different lines is optimal. I know that's some techy shit just for fishing line, but every little bit matters when it comes to winning.
2. Hooks - Choose your hooks wisely. Gamakatsu fine wire octopus hooks in a size 12 will hook just about any fish besides pike and muskie. Bad hooks will corrode over time and use. Good hooks will last a long long time and allow you to re sharpen them. Your best pair of wire snips will not cut a good fishing hook. I've tried them all, Daiiche, Tiemco, MFC, Umpqua, Owner, Etc... Gamakatsu is by far the best. The Japanese really know their steel.
3. Knots - Knowing your knots is essential, not just for fishing, but survival in general. You can easily carry any purpose knots you know for fishing into a survival situation easily. For instance a Perfection loop used for rigging lines, is that same knot you would use for making a snare. The knots you use can also be detrimental to the quality or your fishing rig. A simple (double over hand knot) for instance, cuts the breaking strength of your line in half as opposed to a perfection loop which serves the same purpose but only cuts the breaking strength by 5%.
4. Rod/ Reel - What you need for this is going to depend on what you're fishing. If you're fishing a small stream or pond, hand lining is simple and effective. If you're fishing a river you will need a rod and reel of some sort for quick retrieval and corrections. And for a lake you will need distance, and a long rod comes in handy there. Poles and reels are things you can usually fashion out of stuff around you, but it's tough to beat having a real rod and reel when you need it. Obviously something that breaks down small is best, but most fishing rods break easily, and I think its necessary to understand how to get by without one. Taking a thin 6' Branch at fastening some kind of loop to the end of it will give you the lever needed to set the hook, and learning to use your hands in place of a reel with a drag will come quickly after practice. You can use an empty pop can as a reel spool in a pinch.
5. Bait - Bait is as important as everything else, I just thought of it last. Learn how to fly fish. Although it's not as simple as hand lining, and the technique is much more difficult than regular spin fishing, the Technology behind it is stone age. Yes, a Rapala or a Mepps will catch fish too, but a well versed Fly Fisherman that understands the basic entomology of lakes and rivers will catch more fish more places. These are the basic food types of freshwater fish of North America. Caddis, Mayflies, Stoneflies, Terrestrials, and other animals( mice, frogs, fish, crawdads, etc.). Knowing the life cycles of these bugs and how different kinds of environments effect them is a priceless piece of knowledge. And having some basic imitations for each one will ensure that you have the ability to catch a fish in any freshwater area. If you want to spin fish you can get yourself a water bobber which will get you the weight needed to cast tiny flies, and doubles as a bobber/indicator. You can almost always find grubs, worms, and other bugs in a pinch. Nothing beats knowledge.
Hope this helps a little,
-Montana Pike Hunter