Thursday, February 16, 2012

Ultralight Backpacking Fishing Kit

Fishing on the Fly

After reading Paul AYCE Nanian article, "Thru Hiking the John Muir Trail" I started to think about how often my hikes take me past fishable waters, and how much I would appreciate one in my stomach at the end of the day.  But I'm not a fisherman, and I'm picky about what goes in my pack, so IF I'm going to carry a fishing kit it has to be small, basic, but effective.  Although I want to eventually learn how to fly fish, I don't currently have the knowledge or experience, so a kit would have to be limited to the basic fishing essentials that I know how to use.

I had all but put the idea away when I stumbled across the the article at Brian's Backpacking Blog on soda pop cap capsules, which looked like a good candidate for a fishing kit container.  Waterproof, air tight, durable, and small.  The bonus is that the container doubles as a bobber and it only weighs 24 grams!

So lets get to it!  Brian's Backpacking Blog and JERMM's Outside already have full write ups on the making of the capsule, but I'll outline the basic steps with pictures as well, but be sure to check out their write ups as well.

1) Choosing the bottles.
Standard soda bottles work very well for small capsules.  They come in  many colors and in several different heights making for larger or smaller containers.  Usually you only have the choice between clear and green plastic, but maybe you can find something else if you look around.  One important thing to note is that its probably wise to pick two bottles from the same manufacture since there is occasionally a variance in the thread pitch and flange size between bottle manufactures may be different .  This isn't a life or death matter, but you want the best seal to keep the capsule air tight, and cross threaded or misfitting caps don't seal well.  If the threads are different for the two bottles that you choose, the likelihood of accidentally switching the caps is high, which could lead to frustration when your bobber sinks.  I chose to use red and white caps because its a common bobber color scheme, but you can get as creative as you want and if you choose to find other uses for these capsules then the color coding will help you to easily discern between your salt shaker and your fishing kit.

2) Cutting off the cap.
Remove the safety seal ring with an knife and use a hack saw to cut the bottle right below the flange, removing the whole threaded area plus the flange.  Make sure to cut as close to the flange as possible.  Once this is complete, use a file to remove any plastic lip that might remain below the flange.  (Special Note: I used a band saw to cut the bottles.  I was able to get VERY close to flush this way, but if you choose to do it this way, make sure to be safe) Use 320 grit, or somewhere thereabouts, to sand the rest smooth.  It is very important that the caps fit very flush so that the glue bonds well and a water tight seal is achieved.

3) Gluing the bottle tops together.
I used superglue, but there have been questions raised about this glue for food safety.  For my fishing kit, I didn't care and superglue was fast and cheap.  Various plastic epoxies exist as well as food safe adhesives if you want to take that route.  Now is also the time to decide if you want a divider or not.  For the fishing kit, I opted not to use a divider, but for my fire kit I used one to keep the vaseline soaked cotton balls separate from the other dry fire tools.

Place a bead of superglue on one flange, making sure that it covers the entire surface.  Line the two bottle tips up flange to flange, smear them together quickly, then align them.  I put mine in a vice for a few minutes until the glue had dried, but a clamp would work as well.  Allow to sit this way until the glue is completely cured (read the package for drying instructions).

Assembling the Kit

Putting everything together and what you choose to include is really a personal matter. I've seen emergency kits that include only a few hooks, swivels, weights, and 10ft of line.   That's fine, but I wanted a bit more.  When it all came together, 24g for a fishing kit is fine by me!

As soon as the glue has fully cured, use a very small drill bit to drill two holes on opposite sides of the flange.  this us where you will thread in your fishing line when using the capsule as a bobber, so chose a bit size that is close to the largest fishing line size that you will use.  Securing the bobber is as easy as threading the line through one side, wrapping it around the bobber several times, threading it out the other side, then pulling a little slack in one of the loops so that you can feed the end through (making a small knot).  This is similar to the PVC gadget that I use for hanging my bear bag PCT style.

The biggest problem that I saw with other DIY kits (other than being too large in size) is that they brought such a small amount of line and really didn't have a solid way of bundling it up so that it wouldn't tangle.  I think I've solved this by using a sewing machine bobbin as a spool.  I bought a pack of 12 clear plastic bobbins at Joanne Fabrics for under $5.  The #66 bobbins fit in the capsule with room to spare, I'm not sure about others.  If you're lucky, you may be able to wind the fishing line onto the bobbin with the sewing machine the same way you would wind thread onto one, but the bobbins that I used unfortunately did not work with my machine, but it wasn't too hard to wind it by hand.  I didn't measure the length of line that I spooled onto the bobbin, but I would guess that I used approx 10-15 yards of 6lb monofilament!  Keep it from unraveling by slapping on a small  ranger band (Make Ranger Bands).

I plan to use mostly live bait, but decided to bring a couple lures in case none is to be found or the live bait isn't hitting.  I chose a spinner and a crayfish, but you can chose whatever fits your style so long as it fits in the container.  I guess it counts as a lure, but i also threw in a small sheet of aluminum foil to wrap around the split shot weights as an attractant.  I got the idea from Intense Angler who puts that in his SUL emergency fishing kits.  I've have never tried this before, but decided to throw it into the kit anyway because a) I needed a packing material to keep everything organized, and b) it couldn't possibly hurt anything to try.

Hooks and Weights:
I'm not interested in bringing in the large channel cats or huge bass that big time anglers love to show off. For the purposes of this kit, I'm mostly interested little pan fish, maybe trout or small bass if i'm lucky.  Pan fish bite at everything, hang out right at the edge, are easy to cook, and taste great.  Because of that, I chose to include 5 small hooks in a couple sizes (#6 & #8).  I threw in 4 reusable split shot weights because i lose those things frequently.

If you look at the picture where everything is broken out onto the scale, you'll also see some eye screws.  These are for making the rod.  Basically, the eye screws are installed evenly spaced on a rod length stick.  The line is then threaded through these eye screws and tied off to the bottom of the rod or bottom eye screw.  Check out Intense Angler's video for more info on this and the casting process. The ranger bands wrapped around the outside of the capsule are for binding around your fingers so that you can get a better grip on the line as you reel it in.
All buttoned up and ready to go!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you! My 24 yo daughter and I are hiking up in the UP of Michigan this fall and plan to try out your fishing kit!