Landing Nets: More than Meets the Eye

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Among all the different sorts of fishing gear out there, landing nets probably come in dead last for generating awe-inspiring gasps or impressing your fellow anglers. Rods and reels we covet, but nets? Not so much. Still, even though all nets look and operate pretty much the same, there are a couple of key details that make some a lot better than some others. The next time you’re checking out landing nets, be sure to consider these strengths and weaknesses of the ones you might be choosing from.

landing a big fish

As you can see, this angler should have brought a bigger net!

  1. Getting the right size is critical. As you can see in the picture above, the angler barely managed to stuff that big black drum into the landing net and might have lost the fish as a result of the fumbling that took place. Make sure the net you get can scoop up the very biggest fish you think you might catch.
  2. The joint between the hoop and the handle is commonly a weak point. Avoid nets with obvious play in this joint, and look for heavy-duty construction at the juncture.
  3. Collapsing handles with push-pins and quick-releases will make stowing a large net much, much easier. Some also fold in the center of the hoop, which makes it possible to stow a huge net in a fairly small compartment.
  4. Mesh type is a huge factor to consider if you give one hoot about the fish you catch and release. Knotted nylon nets (the most common type) can rub off the fish’s protective coating of slime, rip out scales, and cause other injury. Rubber-coated mesh is much better for the fish and won’t do them any harm. Added bonus: hooks don’t get tangled in it nearly as often.
  5. As a general rule of thumb, aluminum is the best hoop and handle material for most boat anglers since it’s light, strong, and won’t corrode away after a season at sea. Wood- or plastic-handle or framed nets, which float, are a good option for wade anglers and kayakers. But to make the handle long enough for fishing from a boat wood is a bit on the heavy side, and long plastic handles tend to break. That said, we will mention that if you get a large fish in the 50-pound-plus range into an aluminum net, there’s always the chance of a hollow aluminum handle bending and breaking. To prevent this from happening, get the fish into the bag of the net, hold the handle vertically, and raise it hand-over-hand to swing the fish over the gunwale.



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