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They take up very little space and weigh next to nothing, but can be a fair amount of labor upfront to get correctly setup.

You need to know about bank lines because they are efficient! People commonly drop off these fishing rigs in the morning and pick them up at night or the next day, thus you can be off getting other things done while the lines do the fishing for you. Keep in mind, however, that depending on the presentation, many trot lines and bank lines end up getting stolen by other anglers. This is why I suggest a bank line rather than a trot line—keep the rig low profile.

One end of the bank line is tied to a tree, but sometimes people will bury a PVC pipe in the mud and tie the line to the PVC pipe to make everything as invisible as possible. The other end is weighted and put/thrown out as far as possible with the drop lines spaced two to three feet apart. If you were in a fairly remote location hiding the bank line isn’t too much of an issue, but if you were a survival situation where many people were looking for food, hiding your bank line is a must. When checking/putting out your bank line make sure nobody is around and watching you.

Depending on the area you live in, bank lines can draw up many different kinds of fish—most prominently catfish in the south. People usually use them on creeks or rivers. Fish can sometimes be fairly discriminating pertaining to the bait used on a drop line. In the true spirit of efficiency, I think bugs or small seeds/fruits found around the body of water would work best as bait. Scrap meat from another meal would work as well. In general, the more rotten the bait, the better. Stinky, rotten bait broadcasts scent in the water and brings fish in from further away.

If you aren’t catching anything, the fish either aren’t there or they do not like the bait. Experiment with some different baits on the line to ascertain which they prefer. If they aren’t taking any of the baits, the fish probably aren’t around—move the bank line to another safe location. If you don’t know where to put the line in the first place, find a place that has some deep water and looks like an “active” area. By active, I mean an area that has a fair amount of wildlife around—birds, bugs, frogs, minnows, usually when there are these organisms around, the larger fish are never far away.

In conclusion, a survivalist scenario requires you to cover all your bases because you never know what will happen. Perhaps you get an injury which prevents you from going out to and forage/hunt for food—bank lining is a good alternative. While bank lining can be easily done with the right supplies, it doesn’t hurt to have things sorted out ahead of time. Depending on your situation, it may even be worth it to stake out some areas ahead of time in order to figure out the best or most easily hidden places to put out your line(s). In terms of saving calories and remaining time efficient, bank lines represent one of the most effective survival strategies out there.

Trotline Fishing Tips

Trotline fishing is relatively simple in theory.  A trotline is basically a length of line stretched with the use of a boat, across a section of water and fastened secure at both ends.  On this line every three or four feet a hook is dangled from a drop line, essentially making it impossible for a catfish to swim by the line without being tempted by one of the baited hooks.  Once “set out” the trotline is left unattended for a few hours until the trotline is checked, fish removed, and re-baited.  Trotline fishing for catfish is most effective after dark because many species of fish which would rob the trotline hook’s of their bait during day light hours often hide at night while the catfish is very efficient at feeding in the dark.  Darkness also adds an element of anticipation to this type of fishing which is hard to explain.  

attached to the main stretch line.  The drop lines, which are often smaller in diameter, must be attached so it can not slip, or slide up and down the main stretch line.  Many trotline styles accomplish this by fastening the drop lines to the main line between synthetic clamps or hand tied simple knots.  This can become a little tedious and time consuming, but is effective. Making a trotline does just that by using only one size nylon braided line, sturdy snap swivels and quality hooks.  Utilizing line of at least two hundred pound test, make forearm long loops along the length of the line using a simple knot.  All loops are spaced a full arm’s length apart with the first and last loop being about 10 feet from the ends.

These loops are the drop lines, simply attach a snap swivel using a half hitch knot then add a hook to each swivel to complete the trotline.  The snap swivels are essential because catfish are notorious for twisting off a hook.  Hook size may vary depending on the targeted fish generally between a 2/0 and 6/0.  Also any drop line can be left unhooked and used as a weight point to fish the trotline deeper.

Here’s one more little trick with the trotline.  Instead of using a bulky racking box or wrapping the trotline around a coffee can, simply rolls the trotline up as if it was a ball of yarn.  This makes the trotline easy to handle and store.  If you like, the hooks can be removed before making the ball.

Although a trotline can be “set” in any place, some spots may prove more productive than others.  For example, a bend in a creek or river where the water is relatively deep, near an area where a slough or small tributary feeds a larger body of water, or if the trotline does not interfere with navigation, spanning it across a waterway.

Choose two anchor points along the water to stretch the trotline, anchor the first end to a tree limb, tree root, cypress knee, or anything that will hold the line secure.  Tie the line low to, or just under the water’s surface, that makes the trotline less noticeable to any passerby.  Move the boat to the next anchor point, allow the trotline to lay loosely on the water and tie off the other end.  Now that the trotline has been “set out”, it can be weighed and baited.

The trotline can be weighted with a large lead sinker, a brick, an old window counter weight or anything else found around the house that is heavy enough yet small enough to manage.

Almost any thing can be used as bait for trotline fishing.  Live bait works particularly well; shiners, minnows, crawfish, small bream or even earth worms.  Cut bait, a portion of blue crab, chicken livers, or man made stink bait can also be effective.  For the best results bait the trotline just before dark and if possible use a variety of bait.  Allow the trotline to fish two or three hours before checking for a catch, likewise replace any lost bait.  The trotline can be checked several times through out the night or left until morning.

A few safety tips on fishing trot lines are in order.  When “setting out” the line, check for critters.  Before tying the line off, check the area for a stray snake, or pesky wasp’s nest.

Although a trotline can be managed by one person we recommend that anglers don’t “go it alone”, especially after dark.  Keep a knife handy, a situation may arise in which a drop line (or even the main trotline) may need to be cut immediately.  If an angler is unfortunate enough to have a hook snag a hand this need becomes quite apparent.  Also, nothing can be more disappointing than losing a good size fish before it can be landed, so take a dip net.

An alternative to the trotline is the limb line.  Using the same gear used to make a trotline, the limb line is tied up as if it could be fished from the end of a pole with a single hook, snap swivel, and sinker.  Hang the limb line from a flexible limb that extends over a preferred fishing hole.  Several limb lines can sometimes be as effective as a trotline, however due to the distance between limb lines generally more travel is required.

Most states have regulations on trotline fishing so be sure to familiarize yourself with the state rules.  These rule may require the line not to be over a particular length or may limit the number of hooks on a line.  Some states may prohibit setting a trotline across navigable waterways.  Also, some state may limit the time period a trotline can be “set”, or may require name tags.  Still, trotline fishing is highly recommended and can be very productive.

Bank lines are a form of fishing similar to trot lines. For those that do not know about trot lines, they are a way to fish without being present watching the pole.

To make a bank line, all you need is some heavy fishing line (I recommend 100+ lb. test), swivels, and hooks. You will also need two anchors, one on land and another for the water. The water anchor can be a rock or branch, make sure the anchor isn’t too small or too large—you will need to throw it out as far as you can in order for this setup to work well. There are many custom things that can be done to a trotline, but at bare minimum you only need line, knot-making skills, swivels, and hooks. If you have the time and live in an area where fishing would be important in a survival situation, I suggest making an emergency bank line and/or trotline ahead of time.

Trotline fishing for catfish is a tradition in the South.  A weekend camping trip on the river or creek would not be complete without the excitement of slipping out on the water after dark to “run” a trotline and finding a catch of several catfish.  Catfish that by the end of the weekend will find their way into some hot grease.

Ready made trot lines fishing kits are available, complete with all the essentials.  These are good if you want to try trotline fishing for the first time or have doubts about how to build a trotline.  These kits provide a good understanding of how to rig up and set out a trotline and they are reasonably priced.  However, a trotline is relatively simple to build.  Although all trot lines are fundamentally the same, there are some differences in styles.  These differences in styles often relates to how the drop lines, which hold the hooks, are

Bank Line & Trot Line Fishing
Bank Line & Trot Line Fishing

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The way of the Long Hunter
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