At the time of this writing, Thanksgiving is less than a week away and that brings to mind a couple of projects that I’ve done in the past: wishbone fish hooks (the subject of this article) and wing bone turkey calls. You may be a part of the kitchen crew this Thanksgiving and if not why not volunteer to help clean up after the meal so that you can acquire various bones to make primitive/traditional tools of the past. The cooked bones become hardened and after cleaning off the meat and fat I let them dry out for about a week.
I used my Leatherman Wave to do the work in fashioning a hook. The walls of the wishbone are thin but usually one side of the bone is a little thicker so you will want to favor that side when cutting away the material to form the point of the hook. Although the portion where the two sides meet is important for strength, it needs to be reduced in size to slip bait over it in order to be secured to the hook.
In order to fasten cordage to the hook I ruffed up the upper shank area to produce some friction on the smooth bone surface. I use plain dental floss as the cordage to fasten to the hook using a whipping knot normally used to secure rope ends. This knot provides a lot of surface area on the roughened area and is very tight and secure.
As with conventional fishing hooks it’s important to match the appropriate size to the type of fish that you are angling for. I have made hooks from chicken bones for use with smaller fish. When I mount the worm bait I skewer it lengthwise past the hook’s bend then poke the point through the the side and pull the pierced area down to the middle of the hook. For other bait I poke the hook through the side and slide it down to the bend.
Although you can use a fishing pole I like to hold the line in my hand when fishing off of a dock. There’s something unique and exciting about hand fishing. Because the hook is barb-less you need to know when to pull the line to keep tension long enough to land the fish on the dock or the bank. A barb could be fashioned but I question the structural integrity of the bone’s point and its subsequent durability.
If you haven’t made a hook in the past, now is a good time to try. If the bone should break, you can always use it for a fish gorge… that works too!