Fishing Food Survival

How to Make a Primitive Fishing Spear

While modern-day spearfishermen use many different styles of hi-tech, metal-edged gigs, or pneumatically powered spears, spearfishing itself is a primitive practice that dates back to the early days of civilization. Actually, fishing with a spear may even predate civilization. Images of men fishing with barbed spears were found painted on cave walls in the famed Cosquer cave of France, which would make spearfishing somewhere around 16,000 years old.

Whether you are choosing to put your primitive survival skills to the test, or truly in a situation where food must be acquired because lives depend upon it, a fishing spear is both practical and effective.

Creating a primitive fishing spear is easier than you think it is. The process requires only a knife and some cordage.

Knife and Cord

The knife you use, if possible, should be a large fixed-blade model. There is nothing wrong with using folding-blade knives, however blade size and durability are key when it comes to constructing a primitive spear.

Paracord is a solid go-to cordage when it comes to almost anything in a survival situation. Other good choices for cordage are jute twine or braided fishing line.

Measure stick

Picking a proper branch is essential to building a sturdy and functional spear. Make sure to choose a branch that is 2-inches in diameter. Younger trees with slender trunks work best. It is also important to choose a branch that is as straight as possible, the structural integrity of the spear depends on this.


Using your knife, rotate the blade around the thick end of the branch. Doing this allows you to have a visible and structural cutting point. Shave the branch from the outward edge of the ring. This weakens the branch enough for you to cut from there.


After cutting your branch, carefully brace the knife. Then, using a stick that is as about as thick as your forearm, smack the knife blade into the wood, creating a solid cut the spans the entire face of the cut branch.

Rotate, and do the same. Make the second cut perpendicular to the first. This should create the image of a cross. Split the branch but not too far down. Keep in mind that the deeper you split the branch, the more you damage the structural integrity of your spear.

Cord wrap

Use cordage to lash the spear just below the bottom of your four-way split.


Find two short twigs that are as thick as the branch. Slide the twigs down the four-way cut until they are as close to the lashings as possible. Then, lash the twigs to the main stem of the branch.


Now, sharpen the four prongs on the spear, slowly. Remember to be patient as you whittle the edges down.

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