Nets are often an overlooked piece of equipment in the fly fishing world. Believe it or not there are a lot of nets on the market that are not safe for catch and release fish handling practices. Here’s a few things to take into consideration before purchasing yourself a nice new net.
Will it Float? – Having a net that is buoyant is crucial. Occasionally you’ll need both hands to unhook a fish, and having a net that won’t sink to the bottom of the lake is going to save you a lot of money in the long run.
Basket size – It is impractical to have a 35 inch base on your mesh if you’re going trout fishing in a high alpine stream for twelve inchers. At the same time, it is very important to have a net that isn’t going to prohibit a fish’s gills from moving or bend it inside the basket of your net. It’s better to have a little bit extra room than have a net that is substantially too small for the fish you are targeting.
Ghost Mesh – This is a semi-new thing on the market and a great one at that. Ghost mesh, or rubber mesh, is a great alternative to woven mesh material that not only reduces the amount of slime that is knocked off of the fish in the releasing process but it will lessen the amount of times your fly gets caught up in the netting.
Handle length – Don’t dump yourself over the side of the gunnel because the handle on your net is too short. At the same time, if you’re hiking a lot of terrain a long handled net will become a bit cumbersome. There are plenty of nets on the market that have large enough baskets to hold big fish without too long of a handle, but having a long handle is a luxury for stillwater fishing.
This isn’t an advertisement, but of all the nets I’ve owned I have not found that I love more than Moby’s “Whale”.
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