Oct 30 2020

Toe Bone Hooks (Different Style)

Published by at 6:19 pm under Animal Materials,Bone and Antler

Brown trout (Salmo trutta) is one of the main staples of my food supply. It is exceedingly common in this area and a greatly underused resource. Although I mostly fish with nets, during a period in the summer it is very difficult to catch enough this way, due to the bright nights. It would be even more true if using traditional nets. We have a few alternative methods that we do successfully use on occasion, but they are sporadic. During that time hook fishing is the main way of catching them. Fishing with worms is most effective in late May and June, but can be used with success during the whole summer and to a lesser extent throughout the year.

This particular type of bone hook is a bit larger than what I commonly would use, but it would work. I have had success with smaller ones, which will be in a different tutorial. It is worth noting that these hooks are untested as of yet, but they are strong enough and will allow for threading a worm on, which should be enough for them to work.

The bones that are used for this particular set are the toe bones right before the actual hooves on the European roe deer (Capreolus capreolus). Any deer species can probably be used, but size of the hook will be according to the size of the bones. There are 8 on each deer and you will get 16 hooks from it.

A common way of producing toe bone hooks is to grind both sides of the toe bone until the marrow is exposed, then carving out the hook from this ring. The advantages of toe bone hooks is that you get round grain at the bottom of the hook, allowing you to make a thinner base. This is very useful when threading worms on. Other types can not be threaded with worms, but are more suited for tying on bait.

These particular bones get rather weak if ground from either side, because the centre portion is very thin. There are bones which work well for this method, but I will cover them in a later tutorial. Another disadvantage is the work involved with grinding rather large bones from either side. It takes A LOT of time. Additionally, in the method I will show you get 2 hooks from one bone, rather than 1.

You start by grinding the break surface until it is flat and maybe a bit more. You want to remove most of the flimsy areas. Next you score around the bone with a flint saw/burin. It is not very far to the marrow on these bones so fairly soon you will be able to split it without any irregularities. With some training it will take you 10-30 minutes, of course depending on the size of the bone. If you want to you can of course use a hacksaw, but I have bad experiences with using hacksaws on bone because it is so easy to torque the saw a bit, causing unexpected breakage. I prefer to use a modern knife and a small file, and a flint saw as well. That combines the best of the two worlds for the fastest results.

Next you remove the marrow and drill a hole in the bulbous end and preferably one in the other end (optional, both shown). Then you score approximately as suggested in the picture.

When that has been done well enough you can gently break out the piece you are not using and then start cleaning up and thinning it with a sharp flake or knife/file. At this point you can also make a barb if that is desired.

And that it is. The whole process probably takes 1-2 hours and it can potentially catch you a lot of fish. 16 of those and you can probably catch enough to feed yourself during the hard summer months.

Interestingly the result is remarkably similar to the right one of these hooks. I would not be surprised if it is made from the same type of bone with similar techniques.



Get my book "Traditional Trout Fishing: Fishing for Survival in the North (Volume 1)

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