Every once in a while you will just be tooling along, minding your own business, and you will come upon something so simple and brilliant that you think, “why didn’t I think of that?” I was just running searches online the other day and came upon this site. The idea of using a smoothed stick to cast and reel fishing line has probably been explored in depth by many other people, but I have not been able to find any other sites that talk about fishing in this manner.

Anyone who has ever bought or assembled a survival kit has most likely included a length of fishing line, several hooks, and maybe a few sinkers as they are small, light, and take up little space. Many experts recommend fishing as perhaps the easiest source of animal protein (although any of us who have been skunked on a fishing trip might debate that), and its therapeutic nature could help to calm someone suffering from the shock of being lost and alone.

However, once you are out there with your hooks and line, how do you use them effectively? Hand lining would be an obvious choice. How much more primitive can you get than sitting beside a stream with a line in your hand. But how do you cast? Simply attempting to throw coiled line out of your hand will likely result in a tangled monofilament nightmare.

How about tying the end to a stick? Many millions of fish have been caught by people using nothing more than a length of bamboo, a string, a hook, and a worm. The down side is that you only will have a reach of a few feet unless you can rig some king of casting system.

I once had the trying experience of breaking my fishing rod on the first day of a canoe trip; a plight that I am sure many can relate. Here was my solution:


I took the handle from my broken rod and inserted a length peeled maple. At the tip end I used fishing line to lash on a three way swivel for use as a ferrule.  The 550 cord is there as a backing to strengthen the rod, similar to the way that the Inuit would back their bows with sinew cord. It worked, but I had the advantage of a reel and full tackle box a my disposal. I am sure that you could whip up a nifty rod using safety pins as ferrules and perhaps creating a reel of sorts out of scavenged materials, but I wanted something a little more foolproof for my needs.

Another method, and one that I learned back in my Boy Scout days, was “hobo fishing.” Ray Mears has a nice video for those of you not familiar with the concept. Basically, you wrap fishing line around something smooth like a soda can (I think I am the only Minnesotan who says “soda”), toss the weighted end to the fish, and reel the line in by wrapping it around the can. For a long time I had line wrapped around my survival kit tin for that purpose (I will post my survival kit at a later date), but the line eventually began to fall off of the tin and would wear against other things in my pocket, so I now I carry about 50′ of 8# fluorocarbon line on a sewing machine bobbin.

The hobo method is great, but it can be difficult to cast long distances with accuracy. Enter the casting stick. The casting stick applies the same principle as hobo fishing, but uses a length of stick to give you the leverage to cast more effectively. It is about the most simple device you could make, but if you are like me, you want pictures. So here we go…


All you need is a dry stick (a wet one might make the line coils stick), a knife or abrasive stone, some fishing line, a hook, and maybe a bobber (although a wooden one can be fashioned on site). For mine I am using a bobbin to hold extra line and a couple rings from an old inner tube (makes great rubber bands) to help keep things neat.

From there, just taper the end that you want to wrap the line on and smooth out the stick as much as possible. Any slivers or burrs might catch the line and mess up your cast. Here is the finished product:


fishing-stick-notchI also carved a bit of a notch in the end to facilitate casting. Just set the hook end of the line in the notch (the notch should be oriented up-and-down), leaving a foot or two to dangle, and it will keep the line from falling of the stick as you bring it up to cast.

I didn’t want to cut my fishing line so I used one of the rubber bands to hold the bobbin firmly on the pole. I pulled about 30 feet of line out and wrapped it around the stick, securing the hook with another rubber band. That’s it. Pretty simple.

I will admit that I have not actually fished with it yet, but I tried a couple of practice casts in my backyard and the line shot off perfectly. Hunting season is still wrapping up here (I don’t really feel like being shot) and it is way too early for ice fishing (and most successful ice fishermen find casting unnecessary anyway). Come spring I intend to give it a whirl, and I will let you know how it works.

Remember: if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach him to make a casting stick, his friends will think he is a dork… But a dork with fish!