How to Use a Fish Stringer? [Simple Explanation]

Knowing how to use a fish stringer correctly can keep your fish alive and fresh while in the waters. Getting your fish home fresh ensures it tastes delicious. There are just so many reasons to keep fish alive for a moment once you catch it.

Congratulations on your first catch! But is that all for the day? What if you get an even bigger catch? You might want to release the small catch and go home with a bigger fish. This just goes to show the importance of keeping a fish alive.

And to do that, you need to use a fish stringer. However, most people don’t know how to use a fish stringer correctly.

How to Use a Fish Stringer?

Using a fish stringer the right way can keep your fish for hours as you catch more. If you’re spending an entire day in the waters, keeping your fish alive makes sense.

How to Use a Fish Stringer

This is where a fish stringer comes in. It is a device that secures your fish and attaches to your boat. This way, you can keep fishing while still holding caught fish.

You need to know how to attach a fish stringer to the fish and your boat.

1. Fixing a Stringer on the Fish

However, how to use the stringer on the fish can be confusing. So, what is the best way to use a fish stringer? To use a fish stringer, pass the sharp end through the fish’s mouth and out through the thin membrane below.

Fixing a Stringer on the Fish

There is a thin membrane at the bottom of the mouth. Once the stringer is in the mouth, pierce the thin membrane and pass it there. This keeps your fish breathing normally while in the water.

When piercing the bottom membrane, make sure you do it centrally and not close to the fish’s mouth. You don’t want to end up damaging the fish’s mouth, especially if you’re going to release it.

If you perforate a hole close to the fish’s mouth, it might struggle and break away even with a torn lip. Overall, this is the right way to string a fish and one that is safe.

There is a second method of how to use a fish stringer but one that I don’t recommend. However, most anglers still use it. Instead of piercing a hole on the lower lips, most anglers simply pass the needle through the gills.

I can’t blame them because gills are an easy entrance. However, unless you want the fish dead, this method should be avoided. If you’re planning on releasing the fish back, then avoid this method.

Gills are among the most delicate parts of a fish’s body, and you don’t want to damage them.

2. Fixing a Stringer to the Boat

With the fish secured on a stringer, you still need to secure the stringer to the boat. Whether using a ship, a kayak, a canoe, or a boat, learning how to attach the stringer is important.

Fixing a Stringer to the Boat

Whether using a boat or a kayak, learning how to secure the stringer properly is essential. You want the fish fully submerged and breathing normally.

The stringer is secured using a metallic ring on the end of the stringer. Anglers just need to find a perfect place on their boats to secure the ring.

Can You Put Multiple Fish on a Stringer?

Yes, you can have as many fish on a stringer as you want. However, you want to make sure the fish are properly held and can breathe. The exact number of fish you can have on a stringer depends on the fish size and stringer type.

Can You Put Multiple Fish on a Stringer

You don’t want to have multiple fish and a simple rope stringer that might get loose. Remember, fish will always fight on the stringer to get loose. This is important, especially when you put the stringer through the gills.

I already cautioned you against this. A stringer on the gills might cause injury and even impede breathing.

Are there rules on the amount of fish you should take home? If you’re not allowed to carry more than three fish, don’t have more than three fish on the stringer.

To simply put it, you can have multiple fish on a stringer as you want. However, it’s essential to know why you’re holding the fish on the stringer in the first place. It’s to keep it alive. Make sure you pick the right stringer and use it correctly to avoid causing injuries.

How Long Do Fish Stay Alive on a Stringer?

There is no exact time a fish can stay alive on a stringer. The answer depends on the water conditions, how you string the fish and whether it’s an aggressive fish.

How Long Do Fish Stay Alive on a Stringer

In most cases, the fish can stay alive for a few hours. However, this can change drastically if the fish injures itself. Where you pass the stringer also has a huge impact on how long the fish stays alive.

For example, a fish stringer passing through the gills is likely to cause death faster than one passing through the lower lips. Gills are very delicate and easily damaged as the fish fights. In addition, this is where breathing takes place. Stringing through the gills can impede breathing and cause death faster.

If you can properly string fish through the lower lip, then you can be sure of keeping your fish alive until you’re done fishing. This can be in a few 3-4 hours or more.

However, if you’re using a basket as a stringer, then fish can survive for up to 2 days or even a week. If there is enough food around, the fish can even survive longer.

Pros and Cons of Using a Fish Stringer

You already know the biggest benefit of using a fish stringer is keeping your fish alive. However, there are still a few cons to using a fish stringer. Below are some of the pros and cons of using a fish stringer.

  • The first and obvious benefit is keeping your fish alive for tastier results. This is important, especially if you’re fishing for the entire day.
  • A fish stringer also comes in handy when fishing in places with regulations on the number of fish you can take home. It keeps your catch alive as you fish for bigger ones.
  • When on a kayak or a small boat, a fish stringer creates extra space onboard. Instead of coolers and ice buckets, a fish stringer holds your fish, saving you the space for coolers and ice buckets.
  • It is easy to keep a count of your fish when using a stringer. As you add more fish to the stringer, you can see the number.
  • This also motivates anglers to keep going. Seeing your catch dangling from the stringer is extra motivation to keep going.
  • Lastly, a fish stringer gets you to utilize natural water and save on the costs of coolers.
  • Despite the many benefits, a fish stringer can also slow you down. This happens when you have a lot of catches on a small boat. A stringer full of bass can drag your boat and make it slow.
  • Secondly, some stringer might harm your fish and even cause death. This happens when you string the fish improperly and impede its breathing. The last thing you want is to throw a dead fish back into the waters.
  • If the stringer is too rough, it can cause tears and damage the fish’s mouth. Unless you’re taking the fish home, returning an injured fish back into the water reduces its chances of survival.
  • Chain strippers can also be a nuisance making loud noises behind you. As your boat moves around, the banging noise against the boat can even scare other fish away.


Stringers are a great way to keep fish alive and fresh while in the waters. They are affordable and pretty easy to use. However, you should know how to string a fish correctly to stay alive. Make sure you pass the stringer through the mouth and out through the thin underside membrane as opposed through the gills.

There are different kinds of fish stringers out there. What works for you depends on the fish you’re catching and where you’re fishing. Get the right stringer and use it appropriately to preserve your catch.