Hand Line Fishing – Top 5 Hand Line Fishing Reels Reviewed

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You never know what’s around the corner, especially in the mountains and forests. While you’re camping, hiking, or even just taking a stroll through the great outdoors, it’s vital that you’re prepared for anything. You may get yourself lost or run into some other issues that may require you to hunker down until you can safely find your way back.

This is a worst-case scenario unless you’re purposely exposing yourself to the elements for survival training. In either case, you should always carry a hand line fishing reel with you for hand line fishing. You can use this to catch your dinner or breakfast to keep yourself nourished.

What Exactly Is Hand line Fishing?

What is hand line fishing, you ask? Hand line fishing has been done for centuries. It traces back to the Ancient Hawaiians, and it’s unbelievably simple to do. All it involves is a small reel-type device. No rod necessary. You simply place your weight on the line, bait on the hook, and drop.

Some of these reels are small enough to fit in your pocket. Many avid outdoorsmen carry around these small gadgets for those “just in case” moments. They are prepared for anything, even catching fish with nothing but a reel and some string. There are even some reels that can be anchored to an object, and they catch the fish for you. Either one you use, you should know how to use it and where you can use it.


What Can You Catch With A Hand Line Reel?

Some may think that you can only catch tiny fish with a hand line reel. This is where I tell you that you can catch a meal fit for a king if you have the proper knowledge and training. Using only a hand line fishing reel, you can catch the following freshwater fish:

  • Walleyes
  • Panfish
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Bass
  • Pike
  • Trout
  • Other freshwater small game fish

If you’re near the ocean, you can use your hand line reel to catch the following saltwater fish:

  • Groundfish
  • Squid
  • Tuna
  • Billfish
  • Sauries
  • Ocean sunfish
  • Other ocean fish

Remember, these are not the only kinds of fish you can catch. There are many other fish in fresh and saltwater environments that are edible. Fish that should not be eaten include:

  • Freshwater eel
  • Carp
  • Skipjack shad

These fish, amongst many others, maybe poisonous or just plain disgusting to eat, so it’s best to avoid eating them.

How To Use A Hand Line Reel

Okay, so we’ve gone over what hand line fishing is, why you would need it, and what you can and can’t eat that you may catch. Now it’s time to go over how to actually use a hand line reel.

To use the reel, you simply place your fingers in the holes and let your line go after baiting it, of course. Unfortunately, with this method, you need some killer upper body strength and much patience. You don’t have that handle to help you as a fishing pole does. You need a strong grip to reel in a fish, especially ones that can swim fast, like a Wahoo. They can swim up to 70 mph! Check out this YouTube video of how to properly hand line fish.

Hand line fishing is about as hands-on that you can get. It’s simple to learn and easy to master with enough practice. It also allows you to challenge yourself. You can keep it simple and use it to fish for small games in freshwater, or you can take it to the ocean and try for bigger fish.

If you think you’re ready to add the hand line fishing reel to your pack of survival gear, check out this list we made of the top 5 hand line fishing reels every outdoorsman or survivalist should try.

Top 5 Hand Line Fishing Reels

1. Yoyito Aluminum Handline Reel *OUR PICK*

Whether you’re a survivalist, hiker, outdoorsman, or just a fisherman, the Yoyito Aluminum Hand line Reel is an ideal tool to have. It is small enough to keep in your tacklebox, back pocket, backpack, and other small spaces. You simply pull it out, attach the bait, and throw it in the water.

The Yoyito is made from nickel and measures 3.5 inches in diameter and only an inch thick. It has perfectly placed finger holes for a secure enough grip to land a nice-sized fresh or saltwater fish. It comes with a 30-pound clear line. This clear line is tournament grade, meaning if you aren’t using it in a last-minute effort to survive, you can use it to catch tourney fish. You will also get 4 medium barrel swivels, one 1oz bank sinker, two oz bank sinkers, one 1oz egg sinker, and two ¼ oz egg sinkers. You will also get two small, medium, and large circle hooks. You will also get two small, medium, and large J hooks. If you happen to get yourself in a pickle and have no hooks, you could use a stick with thorns on it.

Lastly, if you watch the show Naked and Afraid, you may have seen this reel used in the episode “Worlds Collide.” It was used by Melissa Miller to catch a piranha. She had actually caught dozens of them, but only one was shown on the show. This just goes to show that this particular hand line reel can be a huge asset to your survival.


  • Rounded edges for comfort
  • Tournament-strength line
  • Small and lightweight
  • Superior quality


  • Poor value

2. Vagabond Venture Handline Fishing Kit

The Vagabond Venture Hand line Fishing Kit is a kit that serves many purposes. Not only can you hand line fish with it, but it has a 500 paracord grip that can be removed for an emergency. It comes with a 12-pound multipurpose fishing line and a canvas pouch for secure storage and carrying.

This is a unique hand line fishing item. It is hand-crafted in the USA and constructed from the highest quality Marine-grade plywood; this gives the reel unbelievable durability in all conditions. Not only that, but it floats, whereas other reels may sink as they are made from a more substantial metal material.

With this hand line kit, you will receive a freshwater hook, weight set, and a lure. These are a great item to have with the kit because you won’t be pressured into having to find your hook in an area that may not have thorny bushes or branches.


  • Multipurpose
  • Floats
  • Comes in a variety of colors
  • Military-grade durability
  • Comes with a canvas pouch
  • Simple construction


  • Takes some practice to use

3. Cuban Yoyo Hand Fishing Reel with Line and Tackle

The Cuban Yoyo Hand Fishing Reel is a product that the whole family can use. This is perfect for going on family survivalist adventures. It is simple to use and universal. It has been crafted so that both experts and new fishermen can use it. Not only that, but even a child can use it. This is great for if you have a child who wants to learn how to be a survivalist as well.

The innovative design allows you to safely store the hook inside the storage slot. It also has a stainless steel line cutter, so you don’t have to pack any extra tools. It can be used right out of the box, and it includes 165 feet of line as well as a hook and sinker. So not only is it functional, but it’s simple to use. To use it, simply flip open the reel, tie a loop at the end, attach the tackle and bait, and cast. It is important to note that before each cast, you need to wet the line.

When you are done using it, you can simply fold it in half to store it safely. The flip reel also makes it easy to carry multiple with you in case you are with a group of survivalists. You can get it in a variety of colors, and they make fantastic gifts for your survivalist friends.


  • Folds in half for easy storage
  • Comes in a variety of color
  • Ready to use right out of the box
  • Can be used by the whole family
  • Comfortable grip


  • Folds in half for easy storage
  • Comes in a variety of color
  • Ready to use right out of the box
  • Can be used by the whole family
  • Comfortable grip

4. Survival Fishing Kit-Compact Kit for Campers/Hikers (10pc)

If you want to purchase a survival hand fishing kit to have just in case of an emergency, this is an ideal fit for you. The Survival Fishing Kit is a small hand line fishing kit. It only measures 3 inches x 5.25 inches and weighs in at 2.3 oz. It is compact enough to fit in your back pocket for easy access when you need it.

The kit comes equipped with a 118-foot line attached to a handgrip. The hand ensures you have a comfortable and firm grip while reeling in your catch. The handgrip also doubles as a winder to keep the line organized and tangle-free. You will also get two swivels, two hooks, two sinkers, and two lures.

There is also a carry pouch that keeps the reel safe from the elements. It is made from robust and durable plastic that can be resealed. All of the sharp accessories are also sealed for your protection. You’re already trying to catch fish to survive; you don’t need to worry about a cut to bandage as well.


  • Constructed of durable plastic
  • Comes with a durable carrying pouch
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Accessories included
  • Comfortable grip for good control


  • Poor quality
  • Hard to cast

5. Mechanical Fisher’s YoYo Fishing Reels (6pc)

They are technically hand line fishing reels, but you attach it to an object of your choice, and the reel does all of the work for you. You simply bait the hook, set your depth & trigger, and you’re ready to go. These are ideal for if you need to gather firewood or construct something to sleep in until morning. You can walk away and just wait for the reel to catch the fish.

This reel has a susceptible trigger mechanism that senses when the fish has taken the bait. It will then retract, bringing the fish to the surface. These are all pre-spooled with 9-12 feet of 60# test nylon line. They also have adjustable spring tension and are made from stainless steel, which is rust-proof. These come in multiple count packages so you can purchase as little as one or as many as 12.

These may not be the most traditional hand line fishing reels, but they are the most innovative. With these, you can do what you need to do while you are waiting for the fish. With other hand line reels, you can’t do that. You have to be in constant contact with the reel to catch your food. With these, it’s kind of like a mousetrap for fish. Set them, walk away, come back, and see what you got.

Note: This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause birth defects and reproductive issues; however, this is rare.


  • It does the fishing for you
  • Made from durable stainless steel and has a galvanized steel frame
  • Comes in multi-packs
  • Adjustable spring tension


  • Trigger is touchy


Being a survivalist isn’t always the easiest task, whether it’s accidental or on purpose. You need to have basic skills, such as hand line fishing, to survive. These hand line fishing devices make your outdoor experience much easier. Most of them are compact enough to fit in your pocket and can be used in either freshwater or saltwater all over the world.

Fish are an excellent source of protein and nutrients. They can help you stay alive if you find yourself in that predicament. Most of them are easy to cook over an open fire, and some can be eaten raw if you are in a dire situation.

I would definitely recommend the Yoyito Aluminum Hand line Reel to do the job. It gives you a stronger line, multiple hole sizes for small and large fingers, and it can be used in any kind of water. It’s the perfect tool for all outdoor expeditions, whether they are accidental or for fun.




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