How to use a fish stringer

As a fly fisherman, it is of great significance to keep your fish fresh before preparing them as a meal. This is where a stringer comes in. Stringers are a popular way used among many fly fishermen in keeping their fish alive. Of course, live wells or coolers are also used but stringers have proved to be the simplest and most effective option.

It is worth noting that the simple things are the easily said than done. We have seen fishermen that could not properly string their fish only to arrive at bay with dead fish. If you plan to eat your catch, it’s important to keep it fresh for long before you cook. On that note, here is how to use a fish stringer. Click here for instructions

There are different ways to string your fish:

How to Use A Fish Stringer (Rope/Poly)

This involves using a simple rope with a ring on one end and a needle on the other. Pass the needle through the gills and out through the mouth of the fish then pass it through the ring so to sew onto the stringer. This effectively holds the fish but you have to ensure to push the needle end firmly into the ground especially if you dealing with many fish. This prevents them from swimming off with the stringer. This kind of stringer is also good for large fish that might be too large to fit a regular stringer.  

Check Out These Great Fish Stringers

This method does not need any knots to keep your fish in place. You also don’t have to sew many rings, just slid down the string with the needle through the gills/mouth to the last fish. You can hook the string to your kayak and throw them inside water so they drag along as you move. Keeping the fish in water not only keeps your fish alive but also saves you a lot of space especially for kayak fishing where space is limited.

However, you must be careful while leaving fish in water as they might attract the wrong type of sharks that might escape with your catch or even attack you. Assuming this won’t be the case, your fish will stay alive until you dock. The length of your string will determine the number of fish it can hold so always consider this when you want to buy.

Perhaps a better way is to pass the needle through the lower jaw than going through the gills. Veteran fishermen have found that going through the gills and the armor plates runs the risk of puncturing the area. This, in turn, kills the fish on the string. Rather, pass the needle through the soft tissue on the lower jaw then through the mouth. This ensures that fish continues with normal breathing until you get back to your cleaning station.

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Lockable Snaps Stringers

Some stringers are modified with lockable snaps along the string. The snaps are essential for catching lots of fish. They are also quite easy to use. Just open the snap, insert the sharper end into the lower jaw from underneath and pull it out through the mouth of the fish. Then, close the snap. Each fish is locked to its own snap unlike the previous method where the string runs through all fish then locks at the end to hold them in place.

Most of these stringers will hold 6 to 10 fish. They are also made of steel chain or steel cable for durability.  This method has been around for years and it’s still preferred by many fishermen because it holds fish. But, there have been cases of the snaps opening up thus letting fish go. You can buy these stringers from any fishing gear store and they sell cheap. The stringer should be short enough to keep it away from the boat’s prop but long enough to keep the fish underwater and alive.

Paracord Fish Stringers

Most commercial fish stringers are made of paracord material. This material is gentle on fish, unlike the metal chains that can harm fish. It is free from rust and sturdy enough to hold even the most extremely large fish in place. It is also easy to tie a strong loop on one end through which to thread the needle end. These features make paracord an excellent option to use as a fish stringer.

The only downside with this material is that it can smell fishy after many uses. Consider washing it with hot soapy water to get rid of the nasty smell before you put it back in your pack.

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Making Your Own Fishing Stringer

In the event you don’t have a commercially made stringer, you can improvise a simple stringer to serve the purpose. Remember, a stringer goes a long way to hold your first fish while you work on catching more. You also don’t want your fish to get too warm or dry out. Your improvised stringer will provide you a way of securing them in water to stay cool. It will also allow you to transport them between your favorite fishing spots.

You will need a branch and a pocket knife to make one. The flexible and easy to cut branches will work incredibly well. Find a branch that has other small branches coming off it. It should be about 2-3 feet long. You can cut off any unnecessary branches so you remain with your desired size that is easy to carry. Trim the “insert ends” if need be to give it the needle-like look.

That’s it. You can now string the branch into the fish gills and out through its mouth then carry them along with you as you continue fishing. If you opt to keep them in water, just make sure to secure your catch by tying it to a rock. This method works great for fishing in shallow streams with slow currents and for smaller fish like trout. A large fish like tuna will just break away.


Stringing fish helps to keep them fresh until the time you want to convert them into a meal. It allows you to catch and confine fish so you can keep fishing until you have enough for your family and friends. Happy fishing!

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