Crafting your own fish hooks can be done with readily available resources and a few small tools. Learning how to make DIY fish hooks is inexpensive and the hooks you make can perform similarly to store-bought products.
Making them yourself is easy and can replace any lost hooks on a fishing trip or give you the means to catch fish in a survival situation with no equipment.
Having a steady hand and a keen eye for small details is crucial for creating effective hooks.
If you’ve never made your own primitive hooks or need some new inspiration, this article will show you all of the different ways you can create your own.
What Can You Use To Make a Fish Hook?
Fish hooks can be fashioned out of metal, wood, and bone. You’ll need different tools depending on the type of fish hook you’re creating.
If you’re working with metal, using a pair of pliers, a multi-tool with wire cutters, and a heavy pair of scissors can make it a quick process.
Crafting wooden fish hooks requires a sharp knife and some twine. Some people choose to wear gloves to avoid cutting themselves while they work.
There are a variety of hook designs that you can make giving you flexibility based on the situation.
What hook you choose to make is heavily dependent on the size of the fish you want to catch. For example, smaller hooks won’t stay in a fish’s mouth and small fish can’t swallow larger hooks.
How Do You Make a Bone Hook?
A DIY bone hook is a simple design, utilizing a wishbone from a bird (or any thin bone with a “V” shape) and a sharp knife. If you want to catch larger fish then you’ll need a larger bone.
The natural hook shape formed from the “V” in the bone is sturdy once hooked in the fish’s mouth, keeping your catch on the line as you pull it in.
1. Start by breaking the wishbone on one side, leaving one side long and the other broken slightly above the “V”. You’ll want to do this carefully to not break the hook.
The idea is to create the letter “J” out of the wishbone before you sharpen the point.
2. Using your knife you want to whittle down the shorter point until it is pin sharp. At this time, you can take your knife underneath the point and carve out a small barb.
The barb is optional and helps keep the fish on the hook, however, there is a chance you can get it stuck in the fish’s mouth.
Trying to wrangle a barbed hook out of the fish’s mouth might cause your delicate bone hook to break.
3. Poke a hole through the top of the longer side of the wishbone so that you can feed your line through.
How Do You Make a Hook Out of a Safety Pin?
Using large safety pins will make a sturdy hook that will enable you to catch large fish.
You can fashion fish hooks out of smaller safety pins but they lack the strength to hold onto your catch as it struggles in the water. For this hook, you’ll need some pliers to help bend the metal point.
1. You have to open up the safety pin and bend the point away from the rest of the pin. Then you want to bend the pointed end at the bottom until it gives you a hook shape. You’ll be able to see the “J” shape with the loop at the top.
2. If your pliers have a cutting edge you can cut the remaining side of the safety pin off so you’re left with the “J” hook you made. Otherwise, just bend it back and forth until it breaks off.
3. Tie your fishing line through the hole at the top of the pin and secure it tightly. Using worms or heavier insects as bait is beneficial with these hooks since safety pins are lightweight and won’t sink.
How Do You Make a Metal Fishing Hook?
Metal beverage can tabs make great fish hooks with a couple of quick modifications. Use a very sharp knife to form the hook, use pliers if you don’t trust yourself with such intricate knife work.
1. Pull the tab from the beverage can, being sure to twist it so that it pulls freely away.
2. Take your knife or pliers and cut a small part of the tab away to create the hook. Snip the hook part on an angle to create a sharper piece.
3. For more effective hooks you can take the process a little further, and take out the middle rib and the majority of one side of the tab to make a more pronounced hook. Be sure to adjust the hook to widen its mouth:
Instead of attaching your line to the loop in the tab, you will have to tie it around the top of the fish hook itself.
Can You Make a Fish Hook Out of Wood?
Carving a fish hook out of wood can be done using a small stick, a knife, and some cordage. You can use the inner part of some paracord or fishing line to hold the hook together.
This design can be modified to catch different sizes of fish just by getting a smaller stick. Choosing a hardwood will ensure a sturdier hook for securing fish. Alternatively, you can use bone to make the spike for your hook.
1. Find a Y-shaped stick as long as your index finger and fairly thin. If you want more of a grip while you carve, you can find a stick that’s longer. Cut the shorter and thinner branching fork to about 1 inch, while the other (thicker one) should be around 2 inches.
2. Strip off the bark to reveal the inner wood. You’ll want to take your knife and flatten out the shank of the stick by shaving away the materials. You want it smooth and flush one end of the Y stick at the bottom while sharpening the other end.
3. Make a notch with your knife into the longer and thicker end so you can attach the fishing line.
4. Sharpen the shorter end as much as you can:
5. Using twine or the inner strands of paracord you want to start to wrap the spike to the shank in a figure 8 pattern, going over and under each component until secure.
How To Make a Gorge Hook
A gorge is probably the most common DIY fish hook you can make. It is one of the earliest recorded fish hooks that is still used all over the world. Coincidentally, it is also one of the easiest examples of a fish hook you can make using either wood or bone.
It consists of a short piece of wood that has been sharpened at either end. It is tied to some line in the middle and cast into the water.
The idea is that the gorge gets caught in the fish’s mouth horizontally allowing you to reel in the fish without it falling out.
1. Cut a stick about ⅓ the thickness and length of your pinky. Most people will cut thicker ones if they want to catch bigger fish, otherwise smaller ones work for things like panfish.
2. Take off all the bark and use your knife to sharpen the points on each end. These points will be what lodges the hook inside the fish’s mouth so make sure they are sharp.
3. Cut a notch in the middle of your fish gorge that circles around the entire hook, you’ll be using this to attach your fishing line.
Making a Fish Hook Out of Plant Thorns
Much like a fish gorge, using a thick plant thorn as a hook can help you catch some smaller fish.
Hawthorn or Locust trees are a great choice for natural fish hooks but you can use the thorns on any tree or bush as long as they’re long enough.
This one is pretty easy to make, consisting of one step. Thorn hooks are best used in a survival situation if you have no other means to create one.
Find a suitable thorn and snap it off. Scrape away any bark and tie your line to a small notch you’ve carved with a knife.
Much like gorge hooks, attaching the bait to either of the pointed ends will help weigh it down. There are a few different ways to use a thorn for making hooks, check out this video below for another method.
Can You Make a Fish Hook Out of a Paper Clip?
A household paperclip can be used as a DIY fish hook using a set of pliers. If you want smaller hooks then a large paperclip can make a couple of them, the caveat being that you won’t be able to catch larger fish.
1. Bend the paperclip out straight. Try not to be too forceful or the paperclip may break.
2. Using your pliers, bend the top of the paperclip into a loop. This will be used to tie your line to the top of the hook:
3. Bend the bottom of the paperclip into a hook shape using the pliers.
4. Attach the inner strands of the paracord or some fishing line to the loop. The bait can be attached to the hook end.
How to Make a Fish Hook Out Of Wire
A wire fish hook is simply heavy gauge wire that is bent into a hook shape and then cut at a sharp angle.
Using different gauge wiring changes the size of the hook giving you options for small and large fish.
You’ll need some needle nose pliers, 18 gauge stainless steel wire, wire cutters, and a source of fire such as a lighter to temper the metal.
1. Use the wire cutters and cut a 2-inch section of wire:
2. Take the needle nose pliers, and make a small loop with the metal at the top of the wire. This is where your line will thread through.
3. Using the needle nose pliers, bend the bottom of the wire into a “U” shape.
4. After you bend it into a “U” shape you want to cut the end of the wire at a steep angle with the wire cutters to form the sharp hook:
5. Use a small file to sharpen the tip of the hook:
6. Heat the newly formed hook with a lighter until it is red-hot.
7. Plunge the hook into some cold water to effectively temper your hook. Tempering increases the strength and durability of the hook. Do not do this with galvanized steel or it will become brittle and break.
Perrin is an adventure guide and naturalist currently living a nomadic life in the Canadian wilderness. His education and expertise is in wilderness survival and wildlife tracking. He enjoys teaching people about the outdoors and has managed large groups on expeditions.
With several accredited certifications, including being a wilderness first responder and a leave no trace expert, Perrin believes it is important for all of us to reconnect with the natural world.