10 Awesome Primitive Fishing Techniques


Before seafood joints, prehistoric folks get their iodine fix through primitive fishing. In a survival situation, this old-school hack could be your lifeline.

So, get your fish and chips ready as you learn new tricks that could save your life someday.

RELATED: Survival Fishing | Unconventional Methods To Catch Fish

Primitive Fishing Hacks That Will Keep You Alive

Angler is fishing with carp fishing technique-primitive fishing

1. Primitive Fishing Using Your Hand

Open-mouthed large pike with drops of running water in the fisherman's hand-primitive fishing

This is deemed as one of the most primitive fishing techniques. A backcountry fishing trick, hand fishing perfect in rivers and lakes.

It is an efficient way to catch catfish without the aid of any tool.

Hand Fishing in 3 Steps:

Step 1. Locate Your Target.

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Catfish usually hunt in dark areas like holes and hollow logs.

Step 2. Set the Bait.

In this case, the bait is your fingers which you will move to imitate worms.

Step 3. Grab the Target.

When the fish bites your hand, just grab, hold, and pull.

Note: The catfish’s spiky barbells could wound your hands. As soon as you secure it on the shore, release your grip.

2. Primitive Fishing Using a Spear

man fishes with a spear in a lake-primitive fishing

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Another one earliest primitive fishing methods, the use of spear requires skill. Spears are easy to craft yet it takes training to master them for catching fish.

Aside from this, spears are only effective on specific fish types. You also have to consider the fishing environment.

The best spot to catch fish using a spear is in shallow water where there is good cover. This allows you to eyeball your target without being seen first.

3. Primitive Fishing Using Hooks

Underwater shot of the fisherman holding the fish-primitive fishing

Using hooks to catch fish was first discovered in the Neolithic age. Hooks are easy to fashion from available materials in their environment.

These include wood, bone, and even thorns from plants like cactus. The ideal condition for this primitive fishing technique requires banks with heavy cover.

It is also crucial that the water is deep dropping just down near the bank. This will allow you to easily cast your cordage and hook to lure catch.

Two Main Methods to Catch Fish Using Hooks:

The hook and fishing line is attached to a bamboo or wooden pole.

From an elevated position, a handheld line is lowered into deep water.

Pro Tip: Primitive fishing hooks don’t have barbs. The trick is to hook the catch in the lip then flip it out of the water as fast you can.

4. Primitive Fishing Using Fish Traps

Bamboo fish trap-primitive fishing

Employing traps is the way to go if you need a less labor-intensive fishing method. This primitive fishing technique is also effective in catching lobsters and crabs.

It is a preferred option for those who fish on narrow parts of a river or any running body of water. This fishing method is also suitable for catching salmons and other bottom-feeders.

You can make fish traps from any available materials such as bamboo, twigs, and tree barks. You leave the contraption on the chosen spot and come back a few hours or overnight for the catch.

5. Primitive Fishing by Striking

fishing in an unusual way-primitive fishing

In situations where tools are not available, use this primitive fishing technique instead. No need to use spears, hooks, or anything.

Grab a huge rock or a heavy wooden club and you’re good to go. It is crude yet works best in catching huge fish in shallow waters.

As you do with spearfishing though, it will take a lot of practice in getting the technique right. It is a necessary skill that you need when there is no other option to survive.

6. Primitive Fishing by Stunning

dead fish floated near the river-primitive fishing techniques

It is illegal in some places fishing with poisons is one of the most primitive means to catch fish. Our ancestors used natural toxic extracts to stun their catch.

They use various types of fruits, leaves, seeds, and roots to make poison. Once applied to still water, the poison stun fishes where they float and are free for the taking.

The two common natural ingredients to make poison are mullein seeds and black walnut. But there are more native plants in North America for this purpose.

Two Important Considerations in Stun Fishing:

Since this practice is illegal in many places, check the laws first in the area where you plan to fish.

Make sure that you clean the fish well to remove toxins before cooking.

RELATED: Fishing Basics: What Equipment To Start With

7. Primitive Fishing Using a Net

Silhouette Fisherman Fishing Nets on the boat-primitive fishing techniques

The Greeks in ancient times raved on how nets would fish for men while they slept. Like trapping, this primitive fishing method requires less specialized skills.

Unlike spearfishing, for instance, this method doesn’t take time to master. You only need to cast the net in the water and you’re set.

The hard part is pinpointing the exact location suitable for fishing. Sometimes you even have to swim and dive the fish to the net.

This technique is best suited in shallow waters. Though a single person could fish with a net, larger quantities of catch need more hands.

8. Primitive Fishing Using Kites

Kite fishing may sound weird to most people but this method dates back to Ancient Polynesia. This primitive fishing technique was born out of necessity.

Since treacherous reefs riddle the Polynesian islands, normal fishing is unfavorable. Local fishermen had to invent an ingenious means to fish.

Kite fishing requires a simple contraption with sails and fishing lines. The sails and fishing lines are made from banana leaves and spiderwebs.

Fishermen would just keep the contraption floating in the water. The baits attached to it would sink beneath the surface to lure fish.

9. Primitive Fishing in Ice

Happy fisherman on a lake at winter sunny day with fish-primitive fishing techniques

No exact records show when ice fishing was first developed. North Americans though developed this primitive fishing method.

Like kite fishing, this technique was also invented due to necessity. People living in sub-zero conditions learned to punch a hole in the ice to fish.

Three Main Ice Fishing Techniques:

Fishermen dig holes on ice and lower a fishing rod with jigs or lures.

A wooden contraption with bait and hook is placed over the ice hole.

Same as traditional spearfishing but fishermen use decoy fish to lure real catch.

Pro Tip: This fishing method is dangerous since the thickness of ice is not the same everywhere. Before getting into it, you must first survey the frozen topography.

10. Primitive Fishing Using Otters

Giant Otter eating fish in the water-primitive fishing techniques

This is no doubt the most unconventional primitive fishing technique on the list. Notorious for their savage behavior, otters when tamed are great assets for fishing.

As early as the sixth century AD, humans have employed these mammals to catch fish. And catch they did. The modus work by using a bevy of otters to drive fish to traps.

The trick is to keep most of them on a leash so others would follow. In some areas in Bangladesh, otter fishing is still a common practice.

Need more primitive fishing videos? Check out this amazing post by Chad Zuber:



As the future further swims in a sea of uncertainty, we need to develop our basic survival skills to survive. Learning these primitive fishing skills is a practical way to prepare for the worst. Knowledge is power!

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