how to catch fish without a hook

Just imagine you become stranded on a desert island with only some string or fishing line and the clothes on your back. How are you going to survive?

Here at Survival Jar we look into the life-saving techniques that have been handed down from generation to generation since the beginning of time. One fishing technique that I have started practicing with is called the gorge hook.

How to fish without a hook

The American native Indians used a range of fishing tools like bone, stone, and wooden hooks. But the most amazing and nearly forgotten technique of using a wooden spike to gorge the mouth of fish. This is a 7000-year-old proven technology that’s simple yet effective.


how to make a gorge hook

How to make a gorge hook for fishing

Start by finding a small thin piece of wood. Any tree branch twig will work well depending on the size of the fish you need to catch. The thinner and sharper the better.

Use a survival knife to whittle down both ends to a sharp point hopefully its packed in your bug out bag kit. This is what will get caught in the mouth of the fish sideways. Now, grove out the middle all the way around the piece of wood. This is where the fishing line or string will be wrapped around. The gouge stops the line from slipping off.


How to measure a gorge hook for fishing

The size of the wooden hook is very dependant on the fishes mouth. Its no good to make a gorge hook that a fish cant swallow. It just won’t work. What we need is a twig that is small enough so the fish can swallow it but large enough so when the line is pulled the gorge turns and gets set in the mouth of the fish.

how to fish without a hook using wood bass mouth size

I like to estimate the width of the fishes mouth and then add an extra 1/4 to 1/2 inch in size to the gorge hook depending on the size of the fish we are trying to catch. This way when the gorge hook turns in the fishes mouth it gets wedged in good and tight.

I have caught freshwater bass, trout, minnows, catfish, perch and the pesky carp, on the gorge hook. It may be a primitive fishing tool but it sure does work. As a prepper knowing that I can now make my own wooden gorge hooks to catch a feed of fish for my family has greatly increased my survivability.

These gorge hooks along with a survival compound bow make perfect fishing tools. Actually, the bow can be used with a hand line to shoot arrows at the fish once you bearly them up with some food scraps.

How to put bait on a wooden gorge hook.

This is where it starts to get messy. Think of the natural resources of what the fish would eat in your area. Is it insects, other smaller fish, or worms? Picking the right bait will guarantee you have more success.

Often I will use the good old fat garden worm or a grasshopper. These are easy to find and catch in my area. Start by laying the gorge hook parallel to the line. What we are now going to do is thread the bait onto the sharp wooden point and push it all the way so it covers the entire piece of wood.

We cant have any exposed wood as this will scare off the fish. The fish needs to be able the swallow the whole bait and not feel anything.

Setting the wooden gorge hook

Once I am confident that the bait has been eaten I like to let the fish run for a second or two. Then I strick fast and hard. It’s important to always provide tension on your line so that the gorge can’t shake free. There are no barbs on this hook so it will come out very easily without tension.

If you find that the hook is coming out and you are losing fish it could be because of 2 reasons.

  • The gorge hook is either too big or too small.

If the wedge is too small it will just pop out of the fishes mouth when it turns. While if it’s too big you will find that the fish won’t eat the bait but just nibble on the edges.

If you are stranded and don’t have any line check if you have any dental floss. It is a high breaking strain fishing line that works really well. DIY fishing products have never been so much fun.

How to make a wood branch fish trap

Since we are going to stick with the theme of using wood to catch fish I thought its best to show you how to make a wooden fish trap. These baskets are designed to catch fish as they love to check out enclosed spaces.

Fish naturally feel safe in a small wooden woven basket as it replicates their natural environment like a hollowed out log.

To make the survival fish trap you will need to cut down some green tree branches, roots, willow shoots or pull out some water reeds. The longer the better. Lay the 10 or so vines into the ground and make a star which needs to be tied in the middle. The bigger you want to make your fish trap the more reeds and vines you will need. Fresh green branches are better as they will bend rather than dried out branches.

Bend the branches up into the air and cut one leg off. This is because we need an odd number or upright branches to do the under/over weaving. Begin weaving using a smaller vine to achieve the shape you require.

Whenever you need to add in a new spoke vine or reed leave enough of a tail inside of the basket and continue to use the figure 8 under over method that is shown in the video below. Once you have made the vase shape its time to now make the cone top.

Purpose of the cone top funnel.

The main reason for the cone top funnel is threefold. It funnels the fish into the reed trap basket and stops them coming back out due to the sharpened spikes at the funnel entrance.

Once your fish are trapped all that you need to do is pull out the funnel and pour all of the fish out.

Make the funnel with the same technique shown above making sure that the funnel fits inside of your reed fish trap. Be sure to sharpen the funnel sticks to a sharp point to distract the fish from trying to escape.



Modern fishing has come along way but getting back to ancient times with primitive technology using wood is a real experience and fun. It’s man vs nature and we often win.

These two methods on how to catch fish without a hook using wood are proven and work well. If you a stranded near the ocean or a river these techniques will save your life. They take a bit of planning and work but once they are made they will last for years.

If you are storing your wooden fish-catching devices for a while remember to fully dry them out in the sun so the wood doesn’t rot out.

All the best with catching some fish to eat using ancient technology. Let us know in the comments your favorite methods to catch fish without a metal hook.

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