Make a Plastic Bottle Fishing Trap

In a survival situation, every little bit of food you can capture adds to your chances of staying alive. If you’re in an area with fish, one of these small pop bottle funnel traps can be a great way to catch small minnows for either bait, or food if conditions are really bad.

I’ve been using these types of minnow traps for as long as I can remember. They are a great way to catch bait, and are really easy to make. They’re also pretty much free, and a great way to recycle those old water bottles.

Instructions fo making a plastic bottle fish trap

How to make the Plastic Bottle Fish Trap

  • With a Sharp Knife, carefully cut off the top of the pop bottle (as shown above). You can use pretty much any kind of plastic water bottle to make this type of trap.
  • Shove the head or cone of the bottle into the body of the bottle. To further secure the head, you can poke a couple holes through the cone and use a bit of fishing line to tie the sections together.
  • Throw in a couple small rocks to anchor the bottle to the bottom, poke a couple small holes in the bottle, and then add some small scraps of bait or small insects to attract the fish.
  • Place the bottle in some shallow water, and secure it with some line. Once the fish swim through the funnel, they will not be able to swim back out.
  • The more of these you can set, the better chances you have of catching something substantial enough to sustain you.

 Examples of Plastic Bottle Fishing Traps

Plastic Bottle Fishing Trap with Bait inside

Plastic bottle fish trap with flap
Plastic Fish Trap with a quick flap cut into the top for releasing the fish after they’re caught


  1. December 8, 2008 at 7:23 am

    Interesting idea. It might be worth experimenting with bottles that have somewhat larger mouths, like juice bottles. Of course, they need to be shaped in such a way that the cut off top will fit neatly into the rest of the bottle, as with the pop bottle.


  2. I read the story about fish trap with pop bottle that was so easy it’s brilliant trap you can find or bring plastic bottle with you thanks I will try that this year thanks again,Jeff, from michigan***

  3. Bob
    September 12, 2009 at 7:39 am

    Kool i will try it at a nearby creek and release the fish after just to see if it works

  4. Eddie
    October 11, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    Sounds a good idea but i to think the hole is to small,hav u caught any in this trap

    Cheers Eddie

  5. October 11, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    Hey Eddie,

    I used these kinds of traps to catch minnows when I was a kid. They are great for catching small fish and minnows

    • agus
      January 17, 2012 at 3:05 pm

      I used these kinds of traps to catch fresh water prawns (?) I use it for live bait

  6. I will have to show this to my son… he loves trying this kind of thing. My kids know more about survival techniques than I do most of the time!

  7. Glen
    December 13, 2010 at 11:33 am

    If one wishes to catch larger fish just cut the “spout” part of the bottle off and give yourself a larger hole. make the cut in a zig-zag pattern for a more effective trap.

  8. tyler
    March 30, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    how do ya keep the water out of do bottle and if ya dont my bad, but i think it would be better to attch thorns so once they swim in they cant swim out, and cut a v shaped notch.

  9. Jim
    June 10, 2011 at 10:49 am

    Great idea! I have been designing and building traps for years with common articles at hand, but this never occurred to me. It strikes me as being a good way to catch bait for larger traps and larger prey, or for fishing with a hook and line.

  10. Thanks for the cool tip! I passed it along. ^MM

    • Off Grid Survival
      June 20, 2011 at 11:15 pm

      Thanks Mike

      • jenngirl
        April 9, 2012 at 7:28 am

        off Grid,
        I was wondering does it really work the way you and other people say it does, and how can you get them off with out messing things up? and do you keep the trap after it’s been use or do you throw it away?

        • Off Grid Survival
          April 9, 2012 at 3:07 pm

          It’s worked every time I’ve used it. and Yes it can be used multiple times.

          Paul’s suggestion below about using the swivels is also a good add-on.

  11. Paul Logan
    August 20, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    Been making these traps for nearly 30 years always work.I would suggest poking holes in the bottle to help it sink.Connect the cone to the bottom half with fishing swivels to make it easier to remove the catch and bait.With a piece of bacon works good on crawdads to. HAPPY TRAPPING!!!

  12. Jimmy
    August 27, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    This makes a great fly catcher as well. We used them in Afghanistan where flys are a big problen on our FOB. Pour a little soda, juice or sugar water in the bottom and it will catch tons of flys.

    • jenngirl
      April 9, 2012 at 6:37 am

      I was wondering if that would work for wasps and other flying things?

      • artytheaquaboy
        August 6, 2012 at 1:54 am

        It does — I’ve used the same basic design for a number of different purposes; small hole and juice or soda for flies (like Jimmy, while deployed) and wasps (in the backyard at home), larger holes and bacon (like Paul says above) for fish and crawdads. It’s a very useful and versatile design with readily scrounged materials that can be adapted to a lot of different purposes. I’ve even used it on land to catch frogs and lizards (tilt the spout up so they can follow a ramp in and it’s hard for them to get out; sometimes they still do, but it’s worked more often than not).

    • Barack
      January 8, 2014 at 3:12 pm

      Thanks for your service.

  13. jennifer Russell
    November 24, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    well…guess what i have mad a lot of minnow traps and i have cought a lot of minnows but i don’t use them for bait,i just put them in my fish tanks and watch them grow then i will let them go if they get too big for my tanks.I have at least 5 or more of these minnow traps and they really do work,I’ve use dog food and that really works too even bacon does too,but so does dog food and other things like that. I cought a lot of them by use all kinds of bait.well better let you all go now.
    happy trapping to you all.

  14. jennifer Russell
    November 24, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    oh….one more thing,HAPPY THANKS GIVING TO ALL TOO.

  15. jennifer Russell
    December 5, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    Dear friend,
    How would you be able to keep the fish in the trap with out sawing it together? and how would you be able to get the fish out of the trap with out having to have to cut the string with some kind of sharp thing? and be for you put the trap in the water how would you be able to keep it there with out something taking off with it? and you really just can’t just stand there and watch the minnows go in to your trap, they can see you you know? and they won’t be going in it while you are stand there watching them and waiting for them to go in, and how long do you think it will take be for you find out that you don’t have any minnow in there because the top isn’t fastened on to the bottle? did you ever think of how you will be able to keep the minnows in your neat trap? hope that it does work.
    hope it does.
    well better let you go now.
    a good friend\

  16. Jeremiah R
    January 24, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    I have been making these since i was a kid….I have found the clear bottles work much better than the colored bottles… Its a simple thing thats great for catching bait..and as always be responsible and dont leave your traps behind..

  17. really interesting and easy to make..have to test it out!

  18. Eric Pinola
    March 23, 2012 at 11:25 am

    These work great; flip it and cut the bottom off and then you can get the “fish / bait” out by unscrewing the original cap and just tipping and draining. This keeps you from having to rebuild the trap every time.

    Eric Pinola

    • jennifer Russell
      March 23, 2012 at 3:08 pm

      how are you suppose to keep the top with out it coming off or falling adn your bait or small fish disappear and you don’t have any more bait just the trap, then what do you do? if you loose all your bait?then what?

  19. jennifer Russell
    March 23, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    Hay Eddie!
    I have question for you?how do you get the top to stay on while you are fish and all so how do you keep the fish in the pop bottle while the river water is running? and how do you get the fish out of the pop bottle after you have cought them? and what if you don’t want to use them for bait? can you just keep them in a fish tank and watch them grow and them set them free, and then catch more,or do you have to use them for bait,Because i don’t like using small fish for bait?i use other things for bait. hope to hear from you soon.
    Jennifer Russell

  20. eddedd
    April 5, 2012 at 11:04 am

    punch hole and tie strings

  21. jennifer Russell
    April 9, 2012 at 7:18 am

    how are you suppose to keep the minnow in the tap with out the top coming off and you loose all your bait? then what do you do?

  22. Randy Rose
    April 28, 2012 at 9:14 am

    I have used these for several years, have a couple in the garage now. They work great for bait fish, around the end fitted togather, you need to poke a couple holes and I use fishing swivals to hold them together and tie a rope to, also add some small rock so it will sink, and if someone steals it, it’s no big loss, it’s free.

  23. Jimmy
    August 1, 2012 at 2:21 am

    Crawdads… the fresh water lobster is all I have to say. They also make good bait so putting in some bacon or something like that to attract them is a good idea. As for keeping the top on, use your heads people. Poke some holes in it and tie it on.

    Placement, place the bottom of the bottle facing up stream and hold the bottle down with rocks. Fish swim against the current for the most part. As for the fish staying in the bottle, they have to find that little hole to swim back out of and that is nearly impossible for them to do. Unless you are starving, don’t worry about some getting away.

  24. mommalee
    September 26, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    WOW,,, Thats all I can say.. Good Idea. May have to try this next time we go fishing.

  25. Harry
    December 21, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    My jaw just dropped. I used to make these as a boy to catch minnows for bait for larger fish. I taught lots of people how. Damn that was 20 years ago.

  26. BashkimiKombtar
    December 26, 2012 at 7:10 am

    I just tested it this weekend with my son, and it works great…
    I have some experience with traps but this is a NEW and effective way of catching bait for larger fish.

  27. David Murphy
    April 5, 2013 at 12:26 am

    Is this for catching bait? :)

  28. RJ
    April 10, 2013 at 9:16 am

    I make this trap when I take my son camping he loves this idea and the fact that no matter how bad the fishing is we always catch something in the bottle trap. It’s a good way to start kids out slow and it’s exciting to them and keeps them interested

  29. Joseph Koempel
    May 31, 2013 at 10:52 pm

    I’m Going To try a 2 Litter Bottle and Also A3 Liter Bottle This weekend When I Take My Son fishing.I Put Out Minnow Traps And I’ve Had 3 Stolen So Far This Year.How Can Someone Steal A Trap.Are Times That Ruff That Someone Steal A Kids Minnow Trap 3 Different Times From 3 Different Locations.I Mean If You Steal The Bottle Traps Carma Will Get Them.I’ll Keep You Posted Of My Catch Of Minnows And Fish From My Bottle Traps And Hopefully I’ll Catch The Person Who Stole My Traps.

  30. Julian
    June 28, 2013 at 2:41 am

    Another note is that for this to be most effective, you need to find a little eddy where the current is less strong than the rest of the river or even flowing in the other direction (even better if there is weeds or other structure in the area). This is where the flow is less strong and the minnow can hide from predators and take shelter.

  31. MagicDave
    November 30, 2013 at 2:31 am

    I’ve used this, with success, to catch our corn snake when it had escaped.

  32. _SnS_
    May 5, 2014 at 10:36 am

    Thanks for the tip, I tried it out and it worked really well. Caught some small fish good for bait.

  33. Felix
    May 25, 2014 at 2:25 am

    We used old tires for cat fish back in 1950’s they like to hide in them just tie a rope or cable strong enought to pull it back out of the water fine a good place leave it for a few days pull it out of the water lots of times you will have a large cat fish in it;

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