Home » Guest Contributor Cami » DIY Toy Fishing Pole (that reels in)…and Magnetic Fabric Fish

DIY Toy Fishing Pole (that reels in)…and Magnetic Fabric Fish

Cami from “Tidbits” is back today — and oh, I’m so glad she is! Because she has created the most darling Toy Fishing Pole that actually reels the magnetic fish right in. Just think how fun this would be to make as gifts for birthday parties and Christmas. So much fun……and absolutely DARLING!


. . . . .  


Hello everyone! It’s Cami from Tidbits, and I’m glad to be back!   For today’s project, I’ve teamed up with my husband again, to bring you a tutorial for making a Toy Fishing Pole and little fishes to go with it.  



The pole is a simple wooden construction that actually winds up the “fishing line” onto the functioning “reel”.  



Oh, and that little lure that is attached to the string? Yep, it has a magnet on the end that actually “catches” the little fabric fishes (that also have a hidden magnet inside).  


The perfect toy for little hands to learn some coordination and skill, all while having some fun.
This project includes a little wood and a little fabric. These are the best kind of projects, in my humble opinion, because it uses a little bit of HIM (my husband) – a little bit of HER (that’s me!). All with the sole purpose in delighting the children.
A real team effort, if you ask me.
But, if you’re handy with wood and tools, you can tackle the entire project on your own. It’s really not that difficult! (I just like having an excuse to ask my husband to do a project with me!)
And somehow, that husband of mine endured the persistence of his crazy blogger wife, and created something better than I could have imagined. (In my perfect dream world, he would do nothing but stay at home and do woodworking projects to my hearts content.)
This Fishing Pole is the perfect size for a little toddler (and would make a great gift!), but I would be lying if I didn’t tell you we haven’t all had our fun with this toy – age 32 on down. :)
Such a great imaginative toy that will get a lot of love at our house, I’m sure!
If you are ready, keep reading to find out how to make your own little fabric fish and wooden fishing pole.
We’ll start with the easy part: The fish.
There are so many fun ways you could make your fish, but I took the easiest possible way out for these little guys. I like to keep things simple.
  • Save
I gathered a collection of some of my favorite fabrics, with a bit of a coastal feel to them. I left edges raw and un-finished, completely embracing the frayed edge look. And I LOVE the look! If you do too, let me show you how easy it is to make them.
For each fish, you will need the following:
  • One round Magnet
    • Bought mine in a pack from Hobby Lobby
  • A fish shape pattern
    • I simply “googled” fish patterns, and found my favorite and printed it off to my desired size. You could just as easily free hand one as well.
  • Fabric of choice for the front and back of the fish
    • Just enough for the shape of the fish, in all the variety of fabrics you desire.
  • Fleece Fabric or some kind of soft/thin batting
    • This is to make the fishy feel just a bit plush and cozy, and to stabilize the magnet. You will need at least 2 layers inside.


    • Save

First, use your fish pattern to cut 2 layers of the outer fabric and 2 layers of the fleece or batting.

  • Save

Trim the fleece about 1/4th of an inch smaller than the outer fabric.

  • Save


Line the 2 layers of fleece fish together evenly. Place 1 magnet in between the layers, centered in the body of the fish as much as possible.

  • Save

Stitch through the 2 layers of fleece around the magnet, securing it in place.

  • Save

No need to worry how this looks. It will be completely hidden.

  • Save


Take your 2 pieces of outer fabric and place them on either side of your fleece pieces, “right” side of the fabric facing outward.

  • Save


If you need to, pin around the fish to keep it all in place. I prefer to keep the layers together with my hands as I’m sewing because I’m lazy like that. :)
Your final step will be to sew 1/4 of an inch away from the edge, all around the fish.

  • Save

Trim off any long threads or uneven edges.

  • Save


And that is it! Couldn’t get any easier, right? Now, just set those aside for now.

Okay, onto the fishing pole. A little more intense for me (because woodworking/power tools aren’t my thing), but my husband swears it is soooooo easy.
But I am sure you can! So, here we go!
We love the fishing pole! But after playing with them for a bit, there are a few things we would change if we were to do it again. So pay attention, because there are a couple of times I will tell you to do what I say, and not what we did. I will bold them.
Also, we tried 2 methods for the pole, because we couldn’t decide which would work best.
I liked the method on the left, he liked the one on the right. But they both look pretty cool. I will show step by step how to do the one on the left, with the solid spool, and then show you how you can adjust that to make the one on the right. Deal?
Supplies and Tools:
  • Drill
  • Wood Glue
  • Measuring Tape
  • Sand Paper
  • Small Eye screws
  • Any type of string or rope
    • Just make sure it fits through the Eye screws
    • We used 85 inches of rope. This gave PLENTY of line to wind.
  • Wood Clamp
  • 1/4 inch Drill Bit
  • 1/8 inch Drill Bit
    • Not pictured (oops)
  • 3/8 inch Drill Bit
  • 5/8 inch Drill Bit
    • We used a spade Drill Bit that we had on hand, but any type will work.
  • Wooden Spool
    • Found mine at Hobby Lobby
  • 2 Wooden Discs
    • Hobby Lobby
  • 1 small Wooden Toy Wheel
    • You guessed it . . . Hobby Lobby
  • 1 Axle Peg
    • For the turning handle (Hobby Lobby)
  • 3 wooden Dowels
    • For the handle
      • 1 inch square dowel, 6 inches long
        • WARNING: I thought the square would look cute, and it does. But we have learned that it is uncomfortable for little hands to hold onto. I strongly suggest going with a round dowel for the handle.
        • We also bought these dowels at Hobby Lobby, and cut them to size at home. A Lumber store might do this for you if you don’t have equipment to cut wood.
    • For the Pole
      • 5/8th’s inch round dowel, 21.5 inches long.
    • For the Peg (where the magnet attaches at the end of the rope, pictured, but not cut)
      • Use the same 5/8th’s inch dowel and cut 1 inch long
    • For connecting the spool to the handle
      • 1/4 inch dowel, 3 3/4 inch long (pictured, but not cut)
  • 2 round magnets


  • Save

Clamp together the 2 wooden discs, off to one side of the discs.
  • Save
Mark the center. Insert the 1/4 inch Drill Bit to your Drill, and drill through both discs in the center. Hold onto the clamp to keep your hand safe. Or if you are watching a loved one do this, be sure to warn them to not drill through their hand ;). A few times.

  • Save


Set the discs aside.

  • Save


Grab your handle piece, and mark in the center of one end.

  • Save

Using the 5/8th drill bit, and a clamp for safety . . . .

  • Save

. . . . drill in the center down 3/4’s of an inch.

  • Save

Ours is a little wonky, but it worked just fine!

  • Save

Drop some wood glue down into the hole.

  • Save

And then insert your pole into the hole.

  • Save

Wipe off any excess glue that came out, and let this dry until it feels secure.

  • Save

Meanwhile, find the wooden spool and dab some glue on both ends.
  • Save
Line your wooden discs (which you previously drilled holes into) up with the holes in the spool on both ends.

  • Save

Clamp these together (with the clamp off to the side, not in the center), and let dry.

  • Save

Now, measure 5/8 inch from the center.

  • Save

But real quick, before you drill, look at the picture below.
  • Save
You will be drilling on this mark you just made. The center of the drill has to be exactly 5/8th’s of an inch from the center of the disc. This is so the wooden wheel will fit in the center and not get in the way of the peg handle used for turning (as seen above). You may want to line that small wooden wheel up with the center hole and be sure the hole you are about to drill will give enough room for the spinning handle.
Using the drill bit attached to the drill . . . .

  • Save

. . . . make your hole about 3/8 inch deep.

  • Save

Drop some wood glue into that hole you just drilled.

  • Save

Insert the peg handle into the hole and let dry.
  • Save
Now we will attach the winding spool to the handle.
Mark 1 1/4 inches down from the top of the handle.

  • Save

Using the 1/4 inch drill bit, make a hole 3/4 inch deep.

  • Save

Dab some glue into that hole and insert the 1/4 inch round, 3 3/4 inch cut dowel piece into that hole. You will need at least 3 inches of dowel exposed for the spool assembly. Let dry.

  • Save

Insert the spool all the way through both holes on both ends.

  • Save

There should be a small piece hanging out the other end.

  • Save

Place some glue through the hole of the small wooden wheel. Do not get glue on the inside of the wheel! To do this, my husband was blowing through the hole after he dabbed some glue inside.

  • Save

It takes a little convincing but insert the wheel onto the remaining piece of wood sticking out. Don’t let the wooden wheel get glued to the spool itself, or you won’t be able to spin it.

  • Save


Now you need to drill a hole into the spool, where the rope will be inserted and glued in place.

Place the 1/8 inch drill bit into your drill.
Below you will see us drill a hole into the center of the spool. BUT WAIT!! DON’T DO THAT!

  • Save

We learned later on, that the rope winds around the spool better if you drill the hole to the far end of the spool. Then it won’t cluster closer to the handle so badly. You will see below how we moved the hole (after the fact).
  • Save
So after you have drilled a small hole on the far end, dab some wood glue on one end of the rope.

  • Save

Twist the glued end into the hole, until it feels securely in there. Let the glue dry.

  • Save

Now you need to screw the eye screws into the pole. We did 2 hooks, one on top and one in the middle.
  • Save
Place the screws to the side of the pole where the spool handle is. Line them up as evenly as possible.
  • Save
Now feed the other end of the rope (opposite the end you glued into the spool already) up through the eye hooks. Once you have done that, you are ready to make the little peg at the end, with a magnet for catching the fish.