How to Make Banklines

When I couldn’t find my banklines this year, I decided it was an “opportunity” to make a better set. Making the banklines only took a couple of hours (spread over a weekend). My apologies with the grammar, tense, and rotated photos. I think I fixed all of them, but gave up on trying to correct them after a while. BTW, the fact that I found the previous set after I finished the new ones should not be mistaken for anything other than coincidence.

Supplies – enough to make 8 sets with 2 hooks each

  • Setline Cord – This is 330 lb setline from Walmart (personally I would prefer this to be tarred, but my store doesn’t carry it). I put about 30 feet (5 arm spans or fathoms) on each set. Longer would be better, but this is about the longest cord I can toss. So total required is about 240 feet, which is one 300 ft roll.
    Supply Setline
  • Dropline Cord – This 113 lb tarred dropline from Walmart. Each dropline takes about 2 feet, and there are 3 droplines per set (two with hooks and one with a weight). So total required is 48 feet, which is one 249 ft roll (and a lot left over).
    Supply Dropline
  • Hooks – Ended up using two different types of hooks. I started with size 4/0 O’Shaughnessy hooks. On a later shopping trip I found some size 7/0 Circle hooks. I had never tried these before, but they should be superior on a setline due to the fact that you don’t need to set the hook. To work properly, the circle hook needs to be a larger size than the o’shaughnessy. So far, I haven’t found any information on suggested sizes or equivalents. Both types of hooks can be picked up at Walmart, but I think I bought the o’shaughnessy hooks from Gander Mountain. Whichever you go with, you will need 16 total.
    Supply OSH Hook Supply circle hook
  • Weights – These are pretty standard 2.5 oz bank sinkers. I suspect that a slightly heavier weight would work better, but this is what they had at Walmart at the time. You will only need eight of these, but I suspect you will have to buy three bags of 3.
    Supply Bank Sinker
  • Clips – This is my first time of trying trotline clips. No one on my side of the family ever uses setlines and my father-in-law, who taught me this method of fishing, hated them. But I think this will work better for me than the hook sheaths he used to use. You will need 24 of these, or 1 bag from Walmart.
    Supply Trotline Clip
  • Swivels – Supposedly these help to keep the fish from tangling up the line. I don’t know if that is really an issue, but internet research seems to back this up. I use the size 1 barrel swivels from Walmart. I don’t know if the brass ones or steel ones are any better. All total you need 16 of these, so two bags of twelve.
    Supply Barrel Swivel
  • PVC Pipe – I think this was a 6 ft section of 1-1/2” pipe that was left over from another project.
  • Dog Tags – My state requires that all setlines have the owners identification on them. In the past I have just used a permanent marker. But my handwriting isn’t really legible and I was concerned that the marker would rub off of the PVC. So I splurged and bought 4 sets of dog tags from Besides being one of the cheapest places I could find, the offered them in both brass and steel. Besides being able to see how each of the different metals lasts, it also helps me to tell what bait is rigged up on what set when I am trying a comparison.
    Supply dog tag
  • 550 Cord – A hundred and one uses, now one hundred and two. One of the issues I had with the last set of banklines that I made was that I had to use the setline to tie them to structure. Experience has shown that this can make securing them a pain, so this time I decided to use a separate cord for tying off. You should always have this on hand at all times, but in case you need to buy some you will need between 16 to 20 ft all total.

Knots to Know Nothing fancy here. The simpler knots just work better.


Dropline Construction. You will need to make 24 droplines: eight with sinkers and sixteen with hooks.

  1. I started by connecting the trotline clips to one side of swivels. This is pretty straight forward, but required a screwdriver at several places to spread the spring part of the clip just far enough apart to get swivel down.
    Dropline Swivel attached
  2. Next is to measure, cut, and knot the tarred line for the droplines. I use my foot to measure out a two foot hunk of line. This is doubled over and the ends joined to make an overhand loop. Just make a single overhand knot with both ends of the line.
    Dropline tied
  3. Now the loop is connected to the swivel with a girth hitch. Pull a small loop of the overhand loop thru the unused eye of the swivel. Push the clip and other end of the swivel thru the loop. Pull the loop tight, pushing the “ears” down as you do. (I seem to have photographed how to do this in the next step, and not here.)
    Dropline attached
  4. The final step for the dropline is to attach either a hook or sinker at the other end of the dropline from the swivel. These are also attached with a girth hitch, in the same fashion as the swivels.
    Dropline hook attach 1Dropline hook attach 2 Dropline hook attach 3
  5. At this point, the droplines should go into a racking box for safety and to prevent tangles. I use a modified 5 gallon bucket for mine. Also, hook sheaths are nice if you can find them. All of mine are hand-me-downs from my father-in-law, I have never seen them for sale.
    Dropline complete


  1. I cut the PVC pipe into eight (mostly) equal lengths. These were somewhere around 6” to 8” long. The ends are smoothed out with a pair of pliers, but a file or a knife would work also.
  2. Each end had a hole drilled thru both walls, about 3/8” to ½” from the end. The set of holes on one end need to be large enough to thread the bankline thru, about 7/32” dia. On the other end the hole needs to be large enough to thread the 550 cord thru, about 5/16” dia.

Bankline and Final Assembly

  1. At the first end of the bankline I make a 1″ to 2″ overhand loop. This just serves to keep the line from unraveling right now, but will eventually be used to attach a dropline.
  2. Next I cut off 5 fathoms of line. This is measured out by taking one end of the line in your left, letting the other end run loose in your right hand, and spreading your arms wide. Count one fathom and then grasp the rope in your right hand with your left hand. Repeat as needed.
  3. The end that has just been cut needed to be fed thru the smaller pair of holes in the spool. This can be a pain depending on how you cut the line. I got tired of trying to “thread the needle” and just pushed the loose end of the tarred dropline thru the hole, tied it to the bank line with a sheetbend, and pulled the dropline back thru the hole.
  4. The end of the bankline that just got threaded thru the spool holes was finished of with a pretty small overhand loop. It needs to be smaller than half the circumference of the spool and large enough for the rest of the line to feed thru. I found that between 1/2″ and 1″ worked fine.
    Bankline attached
  5. Now I fed the larger loop at the other end thru the smaller loop. Once you pull it tight, the line should lay flat around one half of the spool’s circumference. It will be loose if you tied them too big. It’s probably not a big deal, but my OCD made me re-tie the knots until they fit.
  6. Most of the excess line was wrapped around the spool to get it out-of-the-way. I just needed a fathom at the end to work with.
  7. From the loose end of the bankline, I measured up a yard and tied an overhand loop, then measured up another yard and tied another overhand loop. This distance between loops helps to keep the droplines from getting tangled up by leaving about a foot between the dropline ends. This isn’t an issue with trotlines because of the way they are set. Banklines tend to be tossed out with the hooks attached and can become a tangled mess very easy. If for some reason you decide to make longer droplines, then I would suggest that the distance between loops be increased.
    Bankline loops
  8. The last step is to attach the tie-offs and dog tags. The tie-offs were just a 2′ to 3′ length of 550 cord that I ran thru one of the large spool holes and then tied with an overhand knot so that the spool is in the loop, the ends are mostly equal length, and the knot is as close to the spool as possible. The dog tags were attached to the other large spool hole using either the short chain that comes with them or cutting down the longer chain and using it.
    Bankline complete

Now you have a set consisting of a bankline, two hooked droplines, and one weighted dropline. If you know what you are doing, go out and have fun. If not, I will try to write-up another post on how I typically use them.

Posted in Fishing, Projects

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May 2016
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