How to Catch a Fish with Your Bare Hands

How to Catch a Fish with Your Bare Hands

Catching fish with your bare hands is not as hard as it seems but then you might wonder why catch one with your bare hands. After all, there are now fishing rods for you to use so utilize them. There are many reasons why someone might want to attempt this, such as a challenge, you want to see if you can, survival, etc. Catching a fish with your hands takes time and patience. You have to have the ability to be perfectly still to not disturb the fish and spook them away. You also need to have quick reflexes.

Catching a Fish With Your Bare Hands

One of the first things you should not do is wade into the water. Most of the streams and creeks, which are where you should try to catch fish with your bare hands, have cold running water. It takes time to use your bare hands to catch fish so if you stand in a chilly stream motionless for hours, you are risking developing hypothermia. Instead, find a shady bank that is hanging over a slow-moving deep flow of water. Lie down and dip your arm in the water until it is bicep deep. Be prepared to wait as there is no time table on when a fish might swim by and give you a chance to grab them with your bare hand. If you are new to this way of fishing, it could take you several tries before you catch one.

Stay Still

Keep your arm in the water and let it adjust to the different temperature. Fish will not come near a foreign object if it is warmer than their underwater surroundings. This is another reason you need to have patience as it takes time for your hand and arm to reach the temperature of the water for a fish to approach it. This can take 10-15 minutes. Once your arm has cooled down, the fish will have no trouble telling the difference between your arm and the vegetation and rocks. Do not let your arm stay in the warm so long that you have a chance of hypothermia or frostbite.

Make Your Finger Appear Like a Worm

Use your index finger, moving to around like you are gesturing it to come to you. This motion also mimics struggling insects, luring the fish toward you.

Catching the Fish

When the fish is close to your hand, you have to be quick to grab them. Do not aim for the torso or the tail. Instead, you should try to get your fingers under the gills where the bone and hard cartilage is to make it easier for you to grab it. You can also try to cup your hand under the fish and quickly toss the fish onto the bank.


Catching fish with your bare hands has many different names and noodling is one of them. Many in the southern part of the United States associate noodling with fishing for catfish with your bare hands. The one that is fishing for the catfish, called the noodler, will put their hand inside a catfish hole and then pull the fish out with their hand inside the catfish’s mouth. During the spawning season, they will either dig or enter a hole under a structure that is submerged in the water.

The one doing the fishing will go under the water from a few feet to as many as 20-feet and will put their hand in the hold. If there is a catfish in the hole, they will swim toward the hand and latch onto it as a defensive maneuver. The noodler will then pull the fish out of the water. Most that are doing this will have someone that will help them get the catfish to shower as these catfish can weigh as much as 40 pounds. When doing this, there is a good chance that the noodler will have minor wounds and superficial cuts so it is advised if you decide to try this that you wear protective clothing and gloves.

Tips to Help Ensure Success Catching Fish With Your Hands

how to catch a fish with your bare hands

Hand fishing does require patience, precision, and making calculated moves. Here are some tips to help you successfully do this.

  • When you approach the fish to catch them, make sure that you do it from behind as the strike to catch it will be unexpected.
  • When you first place your hand in the water, do it nice and slow so you do not startle the fish.
  • When choosing your place to try to catch a fish with your hand, look for rocks and holes along the bank as that is where the fish are most likely to hide.


One important thing to remember before you try to catch a fish with your bare hands is that this is still fishing, even if you are not using any equipment so you have to have a license if you are above the age that requires a license. Catching fish with your bare hands is not hard but if you are someone that cannot be quiet and patient, then you should stick with using a fishing pole.

Trying to catch a fish with your bare hands is a survival technique that everyone should learn how to do because there may come a day where you might have to learn to survive outdoors without a fishing pole.

Catching fish with your hands is recommended as something you should only do for survival although some may do it just to see if they can or as a friendly competitive bet. Always make sure that you are wearing shoes and to help protect your hands, wear gloves. When you attempt to catch fish with your bare hands and the fish bite you, you can get an infection so make sure if you do this, you check for any cuts or scratches and take care of them. If you want to catch fish with your bare hands, this is how you do it but remember to do it safely.

Learn How to Make a Fishing Pole Cast Further.

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