These Colors Don't Run - Remember 9.11.2001 Equipped To Survive
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Food Procurement


Food is the least of your worries, but it doesn't hurt to be able to procure it, if you are able and have sufficient water supplies (never eat without adequate water). Fishing equipment - line, hooks, weights, lures, etc., doesn't weigh much at all and could be very valuable in some circumstances, so why not bring it along? Remember that a small hook will catch a large fish, but a large hook won't catch a small fish. Small treble hooks work very well for birds as well.

A good fishing kit should include a fair amount of line, no less than 30 ft. and more is better, since it easily damaged and lost. It should be at least 15 lb. test, not because you are likely to catch that large a fish, but because it makes it less likely to break and lose the hook and makes it more capable for other uses you might put it to. For raft kits, include heavier line, and lots more of it. No less than 100 ft. total, including at least half that of higher test, 40 lb. or greater. For raft use, be sure to include wire leaders as many ocean fish will bite through monofilament or nylon leaders.

Many small and cheap pre-assembled fishing kits have only a short piece of lightweight line and one or two hooks. Considering how little fish hooks they are, and how inexpensive, this is really being penny wise and pound foolish -- the word "stupid" comes to mind. Hooks are easily lost. Carry a fairly large assortment and plenty of them. A couple dozen would not be too many. If space allows, some basic lures would also be valuable, but nothing too fancy. An assortment of swivels and leaders will also make you more productive.

SpeedhookA "speedhook" (manufactured by Speedhook Specialties) uses a tensioning device to set the hook and is so effective it is outlawed in some areas. In other words, it is perfect for survival use. These are available separately or in a mil-spec "fishing and trapping kit, emergency" (NSN 4220-01-379-5598) which also includes some dehydrated artificial bait, line and instructions. Typical of the military, only a single hook is included, so don't depend upon this as your sole fishing resource. It is a great accessory, well worth having, but not by itself.

The best of the compact pre-assembled fishing kits is a mil-spec unit designated "Fishing Kit, Survival MIL-F-6218." The original style comes in a plastic container with a clear top and included flies. A later version (C suffix) comes in an aluminum container and does not have any flies. There are a few other minor differences, but those are the only ones of significance. Either is an excellent choice, if you don't want to go through the trouble of putting it together yourself. You can also add more hooks and such if desired, there is plenty of room.

A gill net isn't very sporting either, but who cares if you're in a survival situation. They are extremely effective, weigh little, and don't require the survivor to be present, so you can be off accomplishing other things at the same time. They can also be effective against birds when weighted and thrown.

A lightweight fishing spear or spear head (a 3 or 4 tine frogging spearhead works better than a single barb) with something to secure it to an improvised shaft can also help procure a nice meal. A very large fish hook can be attached to a shaft and will work well as a gaff to catch or land fish.

For hunting animals you have a choice of a gun, which is heavy and requires considerable skill to use effectively, a sling shot, which also requires considerable skill and snares, which require only a modicum of skill and a fair amount of patience. In other words, don't bother with the gun or sling shot unless you are willing to practice and become proficient.

Snares can be very effective when deployed correctly, as illustrated in most survival manuals, but stick to the most basic snares. Leave the fancy ones to those with experience and more skill. Carry plenty of snare wire, not just a few feet as I've seen in some kits. Remember that each snare will generally take a foot or two of wire, for most purposes, and in most cases you can expect about a 10% return on your snare investment, unless you've considerable experience. In other words, carry plenty of snare wire. It isn't bulky or terribly heavy, so 20 ft. is the bare minimum you should carry. I carry 50 ft. and consider that a reasonable amount.

I recommend you avoid the pre-made snares which typically come in sets of two or three. While they work just fine, to be effective you generally need to set out a lot of snares, not just a couple or three, and that would require a quantity of snare sets. So, snare wire, which enables you to make as many as you need, within the limits of how much wire you carry, is a much better choice when space or weight is limited. In addition, the wire has numerous other uses, sometimes much more important than for procuring food.

Almost any type of thin, flexible wire will work, though as with most things, some types are better than others. Avoid wire which will rust. Most snare wire you get from survival equipment suppliers is brass. Easy to work with and moderately priced, but not the best choice. Brass has low test strength, breaks relatively easily when bent, is nicked easily, weakening it even more, and it also reportedly retains odor which can be counterproductive. The best snare wire is stainless steel. That designed for use as fishing leader (for deep sea fishing) is an excellent choice, as is safety wire used by aircraft mechanics, though it is slightly less flexible. As for size, something in the range of .025 inches seems to work best.

Note that while brass wire can be easily cut with a good knife, stainless will be more difficult. A multi-tool with wire cutter can be very useful under such circumstances.

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