How to Make a Minnow Trap


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You’re ready for fishing. You’ve got everything … but bait. And no cash to buy any. Well, forget throwing money at minnows. Gather your own! It’s simple with this easy-to make trap. Here’s how:


  • Two plastic soda pop bottles. The three-liter size is best, but two-liter will do.
  • One woodworking nail, about 6-penny size (the exact size is unimportant).
  • Some twine, kite string or something similar.
  • Adult permission and/or help.

For tools, scrounge up a pair of sturdy scissors and locking pliers (such as Vise-Grip) or common slip-joint pliers. A utility knife can help with initial cuts but isn’t necessary. You’ll also need a controllable flame source — the kitchen stove is perfect.



STEP 1: Label one bottle “A” and the other “B.” Cut off the bottom one-third of bottle A and put in your home recycling bin. Leave the bottle cap on.



STEP 2: On B, cut off the neck & shoulders, close to the top of the bottle label. It should be cut just below — maybe a half inch or so — where the sides begin to straighten out. Toss the bottom and spare bottle cap in the recycling bin.



STEP 3: The remaining steps should be done near your flame source, with the pliers and nail handy. Keep a bowl with cold water nearby also. Fit funnelshaped piece (B) into the bottom of A so it points toward A’s remaining bottle cap. It should now form a nice little “cave.”



STEP 4: Holding the two bottles together firmly in your weak hand (left hand if you’re right-handed, right if you’re left-handed), turn on the flame with the other hand. Pick up the pliers with your free hand and firmly grasp the nail near its head with the pliers. Carefully hold the nail over the flame so that it gets good and hot.



STEP 5: Keeping your grip on both the A and B bottle parts and the hot nail in the pliers, push the nail point through both the funnel and bottle, in 10 to 12 spots around the lip of the “cave” that we mentioned. Drop the hot nail into the cold water.



STEP 6: Using your string or twine, sew the two bottle parts together. Alternately, simply cut the string into short pieces, using the same number of pieces as there are holes, and individually tie each hole up so that the two plastic parts A and B don’t come apart.


STEP 7: Reheat the nail as in Step 4, and put a bunch of holes all over the sides of the bottle (A). A couple of dozen should do it.


To use your trap, add some bread or cracker bits through the funnel (B). Sink the trap in your favorite pond or lake for a few hours, preferably overnight. Tie it securely to a dock or tree. The minnows will go in the trap but aren’t smart enough to get out. Next morning, simply open the bottle cap and pour the minnows into your bait bucket. You’re all set for a day of fishing!


  1. tried it at a creek behind my house, got several3-4 inch long ones!! (big minnows down there I’ve seen 5″)

    • Easiest: fill bottle with water up to where you want to cut, sit bottle on a flat surface to level the water, and mark the outside of the bottle at the water line. Puncture bottle with utility knife, finish with scissors.

      If you’re working on something you can’t fill with liquid:
      Try putting a thin rubber band around the bottle. Straighten it a bit, and make a line with a permanent marker, using the band as a guide. Better – use a tailors tape measure – flexible, and wider than a rubber band, so easier to get straight. Hold it on with a small piece of tape or the rubber band.

  2. Normally minnows do not fall off the hook unsels the cast is abruptly stopped. This will cause the hook to tear through the skin and the minnow to go flying.You can fish the minnow under a bobber or float and this will indicate the bite you’ve been waiting to get. As stated, you can hook the minnow through the lips or through the back behind the dorsal fin with both methods working well for the fish you are after. Just don’t use too large of a hook size so the minnow can swim around. leave the minnow out for 10 to 15 minutes and if you do not get any bites reel in and cast somewhere else. Try and cast near some form of cover as fish like to hang around and use cover for feeding. Tight lines! Flounder Bytes Pro Staff

  3. What happened to the little plastic tops, funnel shaped, with a hole at the bottom of the funnel. They clipped over a jam jar. ?
    String was tied round and a length left to tie a float to. Had so much fun catching minnows in the lake district as a kid.

  4. why cant you just use 1 bottle cut the opening part off turn it around and do the sewing ,hey you would get more minnows that way.

  5. Minnow doesn’t enter in a 2l bottle but they simply swim outside not recognizing the entrance i tried it several times

    • Carnivorous Minnows
      Some carnivorous minnows such as the suckermouth minnow found in Iowa eat primarily insect larvae and adult insects. Others, such as the spotted minnow from Australia, feed on insects, crustaceans and small animals found in the water.

      Omnivorous Minnows
      Some species of minnows will eat a variety of plants and animals. For example, the brassy minnow found in Iowa and the freshwater minnow from China eat algae, brine shrimp, zooplankton, small crustaceans and insect larvae.

      Pet Minnows
      Most of the minnows kept as pets, such as the red horse minnow, European minnow, fathead minnow and white cloud mountain minnow (pictured above), are omnivores. This makes them easy to feed, because they tend to eat any fish food offered.

  6. I am going to use this at a misquote fish infested creek by my new house. Has anyone used them as bait? I can’t find any roach and my pet green sunfish loves them.

  7. How long will it take to catch some minnows? Also, will it catch a snake? there is a Water Moccasin in my pond.

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