Now that is a blast from the past. I had a Pocket Fisherman when I was like 8! Not sure if they have updated the design since then, but my first edition as I remember it would not really qualify as UL gear.
As you pointed out, you don't need a pole to catch fish. Presumably in the scenario we are talking about you just want to catch something to eat, and pleasure and finesse don't enter into the equation. With barbed hooks you could even potentially set the lines out overnight and come back in he morning for breakfast.
For me the fly rod or stick is for playing *with* the fish, and well as "playing the fish".
When I was living in Greece there were some large iguana-like lizards living in the hills around my house, and I discovered I could play with them by throwing small pebbles past their nose. They would invariably chase it like a bug for 10 feet or so until the rock stopped and they realized it wasn't one. Yes, I am easily amused by such things for hours!. I never did find out what species the Greek lizards were - the local goat herder just laughed and call them "crocodiles".
Anyway, I leaned that A. lizards will chase a "lure", and B. goat herders don't give a damn about zoology. I later discovered you can pretty much do this with any lizards if you use the right "bait" pebble (i.e. smaller than the lizards head) together with the proper "presentation".
So the above experiences together with the present obsessive group of folks we have here leads me to posit the following 2 (possibly revolutionary) questions:
1. Might it be possible to catch lizards and other insect-eating reptiles using a more realistic fly with a hook (I think the answer to this based on my experiences is almost certainly "yes"), and
2. Are they good eating, and if so how to prepare them with UL gear.
I am prepared to take my Tenkara rod into the desert to prove 1. if someone can provide information on 2. I know Nick lives in the desert, perhaps he could grill and taste a few for us in the interest of scientific investigation.
At the very least there might even be a survival function for bringing the basic emergency hooks and line even into the desert. To paraphrase Crocodile Dundee, you can still live on it, even if it tastes like shit.
David - So jealous! I had a less than half a pound piece of salmon tonight that cost me more than $10 down here.
On nets: I used a cast net as a kid all the time. You could possibly make a small, UL cast net quite easily. Perhaps about 4 feet in diameter. Since everything is nylon line and thin cords if could be very light and packable, probably only a few oz and packed to the size of an orange. A cast net would give you a ton of range as well. The main issue would be weights and you would probably have to have small "bags" of some sort to put rocks in on the outer rim. That would be highly efficient net (though also highly illegal in most places where I would be backpacking). For survival purposes I'm assuming I wouldn't care. With such a cast net I think you could more of less reliably feed yourself no matter what. As a bonus it would also work on slow-moving marmots, and possibly mulit-use as a head net.