Landing nets can mean the difference between a grip-and-grin photo and that heart wrenching feeling of lost opportunity. More so when a trophy fish is within hands reach.
Pick up the right net for the job this season. The fish and your photo album will be happy.
For anglers that practice catch and release fishing, rubber and nylon coated knotless netting get the nod. Both are relatively soft and non-abrasive, making them the most fish-friendly on the market. Knotted nylon may look inviting from a price point, but the damage it can inflict on scales, slime, and sight make its true value rather worthless.
Coated and rubber nets also alleviate the aggravation of tangles and embedded hooks — a time consuming frustration that commonly occurs on the water.
Mesh size should also be considered. Delicate fish, such as river trout, require a fine mesh. This increases the suppleness and is best suited for small fish. Bass and walleye, on the other hand, are better paired with a mesh size in the one-inch range. Larger game fish need a bigger mesh size hole. Be conscious that water drag increases dramatically as mesh diameter decreases, meaning the more effort it will take to work the net through the water.
Opt for a black material and hoop to lessen the chances of spooking gun-shy fish. It will increase your odds for a successful scoop.
Determining the Hoop-la
Species length and size is the determining factor when choosing hoop diameter. A standard bass and walleye net should measure approximately 22-by-24 inches. Those who target large predator fish, such as muskie and pike, are best to choose one measuring a minimum of 32-by-41 inches. For true trophy hunters, the Frabill Big Kahuna net measures a massive 40-by-44 inches! Small stream trout chasers would be best suited with a more diminutive 11-by-15 inches model.
Ensure that the depth of the netting is significant. Shallow, "scoop-style" nets are ripe for missed fish, and can easily allow your trophy to evade captivity with a simple leap of faith. A depth as deep as the hoop is long is a good rule of thumb.
Get a Handle on It
Handle length is an important factor when purchasing a net. Unless wading, where a short compact handle works best, having some reach on the shore or in a boat is a necessity.
Telescoping and sliding handles are an ingenious design, which allow compact storage and the ability to extend to various lengths. Sliding handles lock when extended fully while telescopic models can be adjusted to a length chosen by the angler. Both have their advantages. Choose a net that can extend to a minimum of 4 feet in length.
Standard set handle lengths still have their uses, but they can be limited when factors such as rough water, high banks or boat draft come in to play.
Look for a handle that is both strong and light. Reinforced construction, especially at the hoop joint, is paramount. Most are manufactured from aluminum or fiberglass, while many trout nets still utilize wood. All work well.
A Stowing We Will Go
Many manufacturers offer folding nets or other compact designs that are of benefit to small boat owners.
The Frabill Hiber-Net is a revolutionary design that I brought on board the boat last season. With the net hidden and collapsed inside the tubular handle, the bulkiness is gone and storage becomes a breeze. Definitely deserving of a look.
Net some fish and take care of your catch this season — and help put to rest the old adage, "the one that got away."