How to Make a Fish Hook Out of a Can Tab for Survival

In this article, I will show you exactly how to make a fish hook out of a can tab.

So you’re out in the wilderness near a body of water, and you remember bringing the beer, but you forgot the food and fishing gear. A possible solution: catch a few fish by turning a beer can tab into a fish hook and making some string out of plastic bags or dead plants! 

If you’re on the run trying to escape from Darth Vader’s army, or you’ve forgotten the hooks or fishing pole on your weekly fishing trip, don’t panic. This good trick with only a sharp tool (a multi-tool would be ideal) can turn any aluminum beverage into a fish hook worthy of catching a small fish. 

You could even catch bigger fish with this type of primitive fish hook. If you are trying to make this fish hook project at home, a nail filer will help you hone the hook to a perfect, sharp point. 

It’s one of those DIY fish hooks that will come in very handy in emergency situations because It’s pretty common to see garbage littered in places that shouldn’t be. Although it is a scary sight, when you’re in a survival situation, rummaging through such waste could very well save your life. 

Think about how often you come across discarded soda cans in your daily travels. You’ll see at least one of them every day because sodas are popular drinks. One of those discarded soda cans may also give you a useful tool to catch a small fish because they can actually be used for hooks.

pile of soda tabs

1.can tab

2.file (or a rough surface) 

3.wire cutters/multi-tool/scissors (or a sharp tool that can cut through metal) string (optional) 

5.marker (optional) 


Step 2: Shaping the Hooks

Instructions for how to cut the soda tabs

The best way to remove the tab from the can with the loop/eyelet attached is to rotate the tab 180 degrees and push it up, forcing it to pull over the fastener that holds it in place. This allows you to make a much nicer-looking hook. 

The final hook should look like a “J” shape. If you have a pen, you should mark a slant of where you are going to cut in the bottom hole of the tab. 

Once you have the slant marked, you should start cutting with your sharp object. (if you are doing this project at home, you should make sure to wear safety goggle or safety glasses to avoid any flying parts that may hit your eye) 

Then, start to cut as much aluminum off of the tab as you can all around the hook. You need to make sure you leave some space on the hook so that you can attach the string later. Lastly, you want to use a file or another object to smoothen out the hook to a smooth “J” shape.

Completed DIY fish hooks

Step 3: The Back of the Hooks

aluminum drink tab fish hook

Next, flip the tab around. You want to twist the hole on the tab so that the hole is facing upwards. The hole that you have just twisted is where you’re going to tie the line to the hook. (If you don’t have a hole in the tab already, you can make one using a sharp object to puncture a hole in the tab) 

Once you have finished twisting the hole around, you want to file the sharp edges in the hole to make them smooth. This is to prevent the line from getting cut when it is rubbing against the hole in the tab.

The next thing you want to twist is the hook itself. You should twist the hook slightly so that it isn’t perfectly straight in order to catch fish easier. The other way to make the hook is to leave the hole untouched. Which will make the hook like:

Other way to make a fish hook

The hook is also foldable so that the bent part can be twisted back into a working position allowing for re-use instead of having to go through the hassle of making many hooks over and over again. This is very useful because it can save you resources in survival situations.

Where to find and make some fishing string

Effective ways to attain natural fiber sources for rope

The next problem may be finding fiber for strings. Dead plants are the greatest natural fiber sources, although animal fur is also an option. (I once saw a lady spinning a thread directly with an angora rabbit)

 Grabbing the inner bark of certain trees is a novel idea because it is an excellent source of string if you can gather enough. The trick is to find broken leaves or dead trees with bark dangling. Cedar, white basswood, and tulip trees are the best fiber trees. Tulip trees are quite popular well. Tree-based fiber is strong, but it’s rough. 

If you want to know more about the best trees for survival, in our 20 Best Trees For Survival, we go over the best trees that can help you survive in the wilderness.

Cordage to show how to turn paracords into fishing line

Additionally, plastic bags are also great. They’re all over! Shred them “long-wise,” that is, in the direction of the polymers. (Note the direction in which they rip most easily.) 

Regular dental floss is also amazing as a replacement for some string. Just take one long strand and fold it or cut a few strands and put them together. In our Survival Uses For Floss You Never Could’ve Guessed article, we go over many super useful things that regular dental floss can do. 

The inner lines of paracord are also perfect for fishing. 

Once you have finished making the string, you want to tie a survival knot around the hole in the bottle tab you have just made.

How to get the bait

If you don’t have extra lures, or if you don’t have grocery stores near you, bait can be found everywhere, such as underneath an old, fallen log- Earthworms like dim, moist areas. Many critters and insects also like these areas. 

Crickets, for example, usually lie lower underneath things that provide cover. Even a debris pile is likely to offer you some creatures for bait if you look through it. If everything else fails, search with your hands for worms that are submerged beneath the soil surface.

What to do next in a survival situation

Man catching a couple of fish while fishing in the lake

Once you have secured the bait on your hook and line, put it in the water, relax, and potentially reflect on life. Although the fishing pole we mentioned isn’t the ideal means of catching bigger fish, this method is definitely a simple way to make a fishing pole using a beer can and will lead to small fish for meals if you’re patient. 

Heck, the couple of fish that you catch might even become your main source of food if you are lost or stranded. The main flaw of these fishing hooks is that they are indeed made of aluminum, so they aren’t the strongest. They can bend, but if you are stuck in a life-or-death situation and you desperately need a fishing hook and line to get food, these tips will definitely help you out. 

Once you have caught a fish, the next step is to make a fire in the wild. We explain seven different techniques on how to start a fire in the wilderness in our How To Start a Fire in the Wild article. In case you don’t like to eat fish much, check out our How to Hunt with a Slingshot and Spearfishing for beginners articles to learn more about how to catch other kinds of animals in the wilderness.


Is there any way to know what food to pack so that I can prepare for an emergency situation so that I don’t have to use the DIY fish hooks even if it’s the last resort?

In our Survival Food List: Essential Foods To Hoard article, we go over the most important foods and supplies that can help you can short-term and long-term emergencies. It explains what foods will be necessary to pack and survive for a long time.

1. What if I can’t find any aluminum cans because I am very deep in the forest?

Best ways and most effective ways to create fishing hooks out in the wilderness

If you are very deep in the forest, you should see if you have a paper clip or bobby pin of some sort. If you don’t have either, try to look for any metal. If you can’t seem to find either of those, you can make a fishing hook out of wood. We will make an article about it in the future so stay tuned!

2. Once I’ve caught some fish and eaten to my heart’s content, my next main priority should be getting rescued and seen. I know you explained ways to make a fire in one of your articles, but what are some waterproof/windproof lighters that I can just pack and create a fire to cook that way?

Man creates smoke signals in the forest

In our 5 Best Survival Lighters: 2021 Buyers Guide, we go over reliable survival lighters that are windproof and waterproof in case of extreme conditions. Having one of the lighters in your backpack when you go out into the wilderness will save time when trying to create a fire and will light up wood no matter the condition to help you create warmth and call for help in emergencies.

3. If I’m a vegetarian and I’m stranded and lost in the forest, how could I find things to eat without having to eat meat?

Realistically, you might have to just eat meat if it’s a life-or-death situation. If you are lucky enough, you might be able to find Agarikon Mushrooms in the wild. In our Agarikon Mushroom Benefits and More article, we explain the benefits of Agarikon mushrooms and how to identify them in the wild. If you are lucky enough to find these in the wild, you might be able to stay vegetarian and not have to resort to eating fish or hunt other creatures.

Final Thoughts

Best wishes on building your fishing hooks and fishing poles we talked about! 

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1 thought on “How to Make a Fish Hook Out of a Can Tab for Survival”

  1. Nice blog! However, it needs to be noted that the hook should be thinner and sharper so that you can capture the fish more easily while setting the hook.


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