Eel Trap - Hinaki eel pot

Hinaki is the Maori word for eel trap or eel pot. Using a Hinaki to catch eels is a simple yet very effective. I don’t often use Hinaki, but if you want an easy way to catch eels then using a Hinaki is the way to go.

Hinaki, that we used were all made by my father, He made them using number 8 fencing wire for the frame and chicken wire mesh to cover the frame. I remember one time when he made a Hinaki out of Supple jack, another he made from Harakeke (Flax). The last Hinaki he ever made he called a Toru-Naki. The Toru-Naki had three uses, hence the name. It was made for catching Crabs, Crayfish and Eels. My father was always fiddling in his spare time. When I first showed him the Band Fishing Rig he took a real interest in the concept and after about five minutes he was telling me how it worked. This was before it had even seen water

Hinaki come in all shapes and sizes. It just depends on you, some are in a triangular shape or can be made in a square shape, but the most common is a circular cube shape. Some are made quite large and these are suited to the big rivers, the weight and size of these Hinaki gave them more stability in the faster currents. The ones we used were specially made, the mesh had a wider diameter, and the reason for this is so the smaller eels could escape. The entrance to the Hinaki had a small diameter to prevent big eels from entering. So as you may have gathered our Eel Trap or Hinaki were made for particular size eels. When the Dutch eel trap came out they were absolutely devastating on the eel population. These Eel nets had no mercy and would catch any eel in their path.

We counted 24 nets


These Net-Hinaki are Leathal on Eels if you know how to use them


We went out to one of our eeling spots to catch a few eels and what we saw, was absolutely disgusting. A commercial eel fisherman had set his eel traps along the creek, we counted 24 nets. When we came across the first one we checked it out, just out of curiosity but the thing is we couldn’t move it. The net was that full not another eel could fit in. All the eels were packed in that tight, the netting had cut into their backs. We managed to haul out onto the bank, there were 137 eels in that net and every one was dead. As you can probably guess what we did next. The 24 nets we did find was the same, they were full of dead eels. We collected all those nets and waited for this fisherman to show up, but he didn’t. We even went back the next day and the day after to catch this person but we never did. If you’re going to use an Eel Trap of this nature, make sure that you’re accountable because, in the right hands these traps are deadly. We have used these traps/ nets ourselves and if you set them in the right place at the right time you will catch big time. One night we went out to experiment: We set five of these in and around a small lake. These small lakes are ideal for these Nets. They are easy to set because of the shallow water around the edges, these eel nets are only designed for shallow water and another bonus is they don’t need bait. We set up camp for the night and were eager to see the results come morning. The next morning we retrieved all the nets and the results were staggering. We had trapped 746 eels. Luckily they were only the small lake eels, if they were the big ones we usually go after there is no way we would of caught that many. So it just goes to show how deadly these nets can be. By the way we released all those eels. We have caught thousands of eels in our time but that’s over years and years, these nets will catch the same numbers in a very short space of time. If our eeling industry is not monitored appropriately then our eel population won’t have a chance.

The good old home made wire mesh Eel Trap or Hinaki are hard to beat. Just throw in the bait. And go to any creek (that has eels in it) throw the Hinaki in and you are guaranteed to catch you a feed of Eel.


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