Fish stringer – make your own

Go to nearly any sporting goods store (or sports department inside a ‘mart) and look at the fishing supplies.  You’ll find very few made in the USA.  Chinese made products flood the market, and in that flood are all kinds of outdoor gear, unfortunately.

Take the average fish stringer.  Please…  take it because it’s likely made in China.  If it isn’t, then you can probably stop reading this article.

There are two types of fish stringers:  chain and cord.  I’ve not seen either one made in the USA for decades.  The cheap ones work okay but there’s something cool about using quality equipment.  And when it’s not available, make your own, which is even cooler.

The pictures and descriptions below explain the process.  Make your own adjustments according to personal preference and available tools.

You’ll need a hammer, screwdriver, wire crimper, lineman pliers, a vise, and a couple of other shop tools.  If you don’t have these, then you’ll need to improvise.  Your supplies are simple:  USA-made cord and a brass tube the diameter of your cord.  A tight fit is best.

1.  Cut the tube to the length you want for the spike.  Pictured is a 3″ tube.  Use a Phillips driver as a chamfer tool to clean up the hole, giving it a very slight flare.  This will minimize the edge cutting into the cord when in use.  Deburr with a wire brush or fine file.  Be sure the hole edges are not sharp.


2.  Insert one end of your cord into the tube’s hole that you deburred.  Push it all the way to the other end.  The picture shows paracord being used in a 1/4″ brass tube.  In reality, a larger cord or smaller tube should be used so the fit is tight. 



3.  Crimp the cord in the brass tube, much like you would crimp a wire in a connector.  If you don’t have a crimping tool, use a blunt pointed punch (dull nail) and gently hammer a crimp.  Make two or three crimps (I use three:  Two on one side of the tube and one on the other side midway between the two opposing crimps.)


4.  Use a vise to flatten about 3/4″ of the tube (length is arbitrary).  This will pinch the cord in the tube giving it an extra level of holding strength so the two items do not separate.




5.  Adjust the vise to create a space just large enough to support the tube for the next step.  Place a screwdriver on top and tap a channel in the tube.




The channel should be deep enough to begin to fold the flattened end.


6.  Use the vise to flatten the grooved end.

If you don’t have a vise, carefully hammer the grooved end flat.




7.  Place the flattened end in the cutter of the lineman pliers.  Clamp the pliers in the vise so that when closed, the vise exerts force on the pliers which in turn severs the brass to form a point. 




This is also a good way to cut small cable.








8.  Deburr the point.





9.  If any of the cord is showing, simply use a flame to melt it away.





10.  The finished product.

As an option, you can provide one more feature that is found on cheap store-bought cord stringers…




11.  Add a steel ring to the other end of the cord.  This is a handy feature.  Even simpler is to tie a loop in the loose end of the cord stringer.




Here is a “modified” double bowline. A real double bowline would work equally well, maybe better.

12.  I’ve made three stringers so far.  The middle one is made from heavy cord and will be used to hold heavy fish.  The left stringer is my regular use “model” that I keep in my tackle box.  The right stringer is the one made above.




There is no greater fan of fly fishing than the worm.
~Patrick McManus — “Never Sniff a Gift Fish”