Looking for a fishing kit to include in your pack or emergency kit? Woods Monkey takes a look at two survival fishing kits from Best Glide that just might be the answer.
Right up there with baseball and BBQ, fishing has got to be one of America’s favorite pastimes. I’ve been fishing all my life. With no exaggeration, I grew up doing it. I’ve had fishing trips where 100 fish a day were not out of the norm. And I love doing it. I’ve pulled thousands of fish out of the water, using nearly every imaginable means, and still get excited on the hook up. So you can imagine my interest when Best Glide sent in two of their Survival Fishing Kits for review. I intended to give the kits a thorough work out and really evaluate these in a real world scenario. I even caught a few!
Best Glide was kind enough to send their smallest and largest kits. I’ll start with the smallest kit and work my way up from there. The small kit, called the Compact Survival Fishing Kit, is an emergency kit packed light and thin but that still contains a sufficient amount of equipment to keep you alive. The Compact kit is not packaged in a tin. Instead, the Compact kit is sold in a heavy 6mil ziplock style pouch that measures about 3”x4”. A kit packaged in this manner is especially light and comfortable to carry. The 6mil plastic is thick enough to keep you from being poked with any contents when you slip the kit into a pocket.
The contents of the compact kit are (1) Styrofoam style bobber, 50 ft of 12lb line, assorted hooks and sinkers, (1) yellow Sally fly, (1) wire leader, (4) salmon egg type baits, and several jigs and jig heads. In my opinion, to have a successful fishing kit, you need plenty of line and hooks. The rest is extra. The Compact kit, with its 50ft of line and 6 hooks gives the survivor plenty to work with. Even the occasional fisherman knows that part of fishing is losing line and hooks. Should you have the misfortune to lose half of what you started with, the remaining kit would still give you a good chance of putting fish over the fire. An impressive note, the Compact Kit meets the Alaska and Canada over flight requirements for emergency survival supplies.
The large kit that Best Glide sent for review is their Standard Emergency Survival Fishing Kit. The standard version is packaged in a stout tin measuring 4.5”x3”x1”. The tin is larger than a typical Altoids tin, but still fits in a blue jeans back pocket or cargo pocket. It’s also not hinged, which I find advantageous. You can remove the lid and get at the inside contents without the tin wanting to tip over from the weight of the open lid. The tin is also easy to get into with cold, slippery, or fish slime covered hands. The Standard kit includes a well-written pamphlet with tips on how to use the kit, tie fishing knots, and best areas to fish. I have to admit for something that’s often an afterthought in kits like this the pamphlet is well done. I think a novice could easily use it, along with the kit, and successfully catch fish to keep them alive. The pamphlet also stresses an important aspect of survival: that food should be down the list from shelter and water, and most likely fire. Best Glide also recommends that the fishing kits be used as a supplement to a comprehensive survival kit.
The contents of the Standard kit are downright impressive. The kit contains plenty of components, and in a survival situation more is always better. The kit contains (9) hooks of various size, (2) large treble hooks, (2) flys, (8) of the Salmon egg bait, (3) assorted jigs with jig heads, (1) ¼ oz silver spoon, (8) split shot sinkers, (4) leaders, and plenty of line. The line is divided into 50ft of 12lb line, and 25ft of 30lb line separated into three sections. One section of the 12lb line comes in what Best Glide calls a “Ready” line, meaning it’s ready to use with hook, sinker, and bobber already attached. This is especially nice because a pre-rigged line lets you get to the business of fishing quickly. Once the ready line is in the water, you can go about fixing up other line as the situation dictates. Also included in the Standard kit is a blaze orange handled folding razor knife from Derma-Safe. These small knives are negligible in weight, hair popping sharp, and surprisingly useful. I had never handled one before, and I like it. It will cut and trim fishing line, and open up a fish for easy removal of the insides. The Derma-Safe knife is a great addition to any kit that needs a light use blade. The Standard kit exceeds the Alaska and Canada over flight requirements, should you ever find yourself in a bush plane traveling over that part of the world.
For the review of both kits, I packed them both, along with two Buck fishing knives I also received for review, and headed down to several ponds located on state Wildlife Management property. I know the area very well, as this is a favorite spot of mine for fishing and waterfowl hunting. The only fishing equipment that I brought with me was the two Best Glide kits. I started with the Ready line from the standard kit, and used the salmon egg bait. With about 25’ of line, I tied the end to a stick and jammed it in the mud right at the water’s edge. This gave me the most distance possible into the main lake. While casting a hand line can be a bit tricky, I was able to get a full distance cast with the stock set up. I left the Ready line and went about setting up other lines. The next part of kit I used was the Compact kits hook, line, and sinker. The bobber (or ‘cork’ as the southerners call it) is the type that needs to be threaded onto the line the pegged at the proper depth. If you tie your hook on first, you won’t have any way to get the bobber on the line. With the bobber, one of the medium hooks, and a sinker on the line, I went looking for bait. As a tip, split shot sinkers can be easily pinched on a line by pushing it closed with two rocks or hammer and anvil method.
I’ve never been a big fan of digging for bait. I’ve always had much better luck with rotten logs and brush piles. I went to where several large logs were laying and began breaking apart the rotten core with the smaller Buck knife. It wasn’t two minute before I found a worm working his way away from the commotion. With him in hand, I returned back to the pond. With the worm on the hook, I gave it a good cast into the water. I tied the end of the line to another stick and jammed it down into the mud. Within about two minutes, I had a fish on. Reeling a hand line in is about as tricky as it is getting it into the water, but the key is to keep steady pressure on the line. Doing this, I landed a small 6” trout. While that little fish won’t impress anyone, it would certainly put some protein in the survivor’s stomach. He was returned to the pond with most of the worm still in his stomach.
I went back to the same log and with more rooting around, I found a very fat, very yellow grub. Using about a 6’ stick to make an improvised cane pole, I tied the Compact kit rig on the end and cast it out with the grub on the hook. I stuck the end of the pole into the mud and angled it towards the center of the pond, gaining a few feet of distance in the process. About 10 minutes later, I had a nice sized perch on the hook, pulling the bobber way under. I got him on shore and managed to snap a picture of him amongst all the flopping around. Another trip to the log for bait, and back at the pond landed a fat little trout of about 11” in length. Not a legal keeper, he went back in the pond. Now these three fish won’t impress any fisherman I know, but like I said before, they’ll feed the survivor with minimal energy output to catch them.
The success you’ll have with the jigs and flys will be largely dependent on the location you’re in when you need them. If the ponds are small, or have large qualities of the various species of panfish, the jigs will serve you well. If you have experience with the flys, or are limited to small trout streams, the fly’s will be what you want to use. The large treble hooks will be excellent in catfish country or anywhere the fish are large and hungry. I found the salmon egg bait to be very unrealistic, and had no success with them. I know there’s plenty of trout in those ponds. But after several attempts in different locations, the salmon egg bait just didn’t get it done. Live bait gets the nod, as it usually does.
These two kits from Best Glide are pretty impressive. The Compact kit will serve the ultra-light backpacker in the event of an emergency when it’s necessary to focus on food. If weight is critical, with the 6mil pouch containing the Compact kit is the way to go. For a long trip, or when it may be necessary to support several people in an emergency, the Standard kit is an excellent choice. If you’re an avid boater, four wheel drive enthusiast, or otherwise not picky about the weight, the Standard kit could be used by multiple people, or divided up if necessary to help obtain food in a survival situation. The kits are especially nice if you’re not a fisherman and need to put together a fishing kit without having a tackle box to go rummage through.
Check out Best Glides site at www.bestglide.com. I think you’ll find it a refreshing take on outdoor and survival equipment. No hype, no overblown advertising, just fair prices and good gear that’s made for being used.