Indian Fishing Tools

Fishing has been a staple of nourishment for thousands of years. Native Americans used fish for food and trade, which helped the villages thrive. All of the tools were handmade using stones, wood and bone. Most of the fishing tools used today are based off of the designs used during early civilization.

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  1. Spears

    • One of the main tools Native Americans used for fishing was spears. They would carve large sticks into the shape of a spear base. The speed and force of the spear was largely dependent on the length and thickness of the handle. They used large rocks to chip stone or bone into the shape of a spearhead. They used this tool year round since it was efficient and could be made in large quantities.


    • Indians made early fishing lures from wood or bone to resemble bait such as minnows. They used basswood fiber yarn to dangle the lure in the water. This was especially useful during the winter when the water would freeze. Since it was almost impossible to see the fish through the ice, the Native Americans would saw a hole into the ice and drop the lure to entice fish. They used th lure method along with the spear.


    • American Indians used nets made from hemp, bark or hair to catch large quantities of fish at one time. They would use a method known as cordage (twisting fibers to make rope). When using bark or any other tough fiber, they would soak it in hot water and then pound it to soften the material. They would then twist and knot the material together to create a strong, long-lasting fishing net.


    • Used like a bow and arrow, harpoons made fishing easier for most Native Americans. Using the cordage technique, they would twist strong fibers together to create a long rope. They would then tie one end of the rope to an arrow and the other end to the bow. This method made catching fish more efficient by targeting and reeling in fish with one simple maneuver.

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