Nets, Go Big or Go Home

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Jeff Isn’t Messing Around Photo by Louis Cahill

I received an email from a reader the other day asking advice on steelhead nets. I thought it was a topic worth some discussion. We put a lot of thought into rods, reels, lines and flies but often the piece of equipment that seals the deal is an afterthought. I was guilty of this for years, carrying a net that wasn’t up to the job for purely sentimental reasons. I finally realized it made no sense and tooled up.

Here are a couple of things that I look for in a net.

Size Matters

Bigger is better and biggest is best! When your fighting the fish of a lifetime you don’t have time to run to Wal-Mart for a bigger net. Plan for success. My regular trout net is 20″ across. For steelhead you’ll want something bigger. It’s easier to net a tough fish and it gentler on them as well. Go big or go home.

The Bag

This is the most important thing to me. Traditional nets tear fins and remove slime from fish. The new rubber nets are the friendliest thing for the fish. Put them back the way you found them.

A Long Handel

I don’t care what they allow in competition, longer is better. If it means you net the fish faster it cuts down on the chance you will unbutton and it’s better for the fish.

Light Weight

I love the look of a wooden net but the big ones are too heavy to carry wading. I use the aluminum tube type and I wear it on my back, attached with a carabiner.

The net I carry came from Wal-Mart and cost about $25. I am not a fan of Wal-Mart but Kent and I were on a trip and I lost the net. It was the best we could do on the road but it’s served me pretty well so I can’t complain. If you want a really nice one like my buddy Jeff is carrying in the photo it’s a Frabill. You can get one here.

So don’t be under gunned when it’s time to seal the deal. Get yourself a good net. You’ll be glad you did.

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10 thoughts on “Nets, Go Big or Go Home

  1. Right on! I could not find a net I liked a while back so I had a net builder Sam Lacina make one for me to my specs. My standard trout wading net is 20″ x 23″ and 38″ overall length (helps that I am 6’5″) and uses a clear rubber ghost bag. Nomad has composite nets out now that are pretty rad too.

  2. Agree. When we fish for Kings we bring along a long handled old aluminum net that is huge but works well for scooping the kings, steelies and cohos up. Looks a bit funny walking back through the trail but we bring them in.

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