A trotline is nothing more than a fishing line with baited hooks attached to it at intervals by means of branch/drop lines. The branch line is a short length of line which is attached to the main line using a swivel, with a hook at the other end. A trotline can be set so it covers the width of a river or stream and can be left unattended. During a survival situation prioritizing your activities will be critical, so If you can place a trotline or make a fish trap you could be catching food while you’re doing other chores. Trotlines are illegal in many states, so make sure you check your local fish and game regulations where you live.
Here is what you will need to make a paracord trotline.
550 Paracord – has an outer nylon shell and seven filaments of nylon thread. Each filament has a tensile strength of about 35 pounds and can easily work as fishing line. The outer shell has a tensile strength of about 250 lbs.
Hooks – Hook size will depend on the type of fish you are going after.
Swivels – Swivels add strength and make it a little easier to attach the hooks to the main line, but they are not needed.
Weight – A weight is needed to attach to one end of the main line, a rock can easily be used for this.
Step 1. Remove the inner strands from the paracord that you are going to use to make the trotline, then singe the ends of the outer nylon shell.
Step 2. Slide your swivels onto the outer nylon shell. I made this one about 3 feet apart from each swivel.
Step 3. Tie an overhand knot on each side of the swivel. This will keep your swivels in place.
Step 4. Make your drop lines. If you want a 1 foot drop line use a 2 foot piece of one of the inner strands, fold the 2 foot piece in half and tie the ends together using an overhand knot. Make sure to singe the ends of your inner strands too.
Step 5. Thread your hook onto the drop line that you just tied off. Once you have a loop like the first picture above pass the knotted end of the drop line through the loop and pull through to secure the hook.
Step 6. Secure the drop line to the swivel using the same method you used for the hook. Slide the knotted end of the drop line through the swivel then pass the hook through the loop. If you don’t have swivels you can tie overhand loops like the picture below and just attach the drop line the same way you did to the swivel.
Step 7. To use the trotline tie one end to a tree and the other end to a weight or rock. You can place the trotline deep pools, river bends and across smaller rivers. Remember this is illegal in many places and should only be used in survival situations.