The proper fly fishing net will, well, net you more fish safer and easier
Fly fishing enthusiasts are often very particular about their gear - the sport is at base one for the purist and perfectionist, else one would sleep on the river bank with a fishin’ pole set up to waken the angler when a strike comes down.
And one of the more particular pieces of equipment that leads to many fly fishing discussions is the landing net.
On the one hand are the anglers who never use a net, believing it detracts from the purest pursuit. On the other hand are those who like nets for the protection they provide the fish and the ease by which they enable landing the big ones.
In this discussion, we’ll go with the pro-net anglers and let the purists handle their own fish.
There are many types of landing nets on the market today, in a wide range of price categories, but for any of them there is a short list of things to consider in making the proper selection of the right one to use while fly fishing.
First, of course, is what you are fishing for, which will dictate size. If it’s trout in mountain streams that may run up to 12” in length, then you want a net with an opening to accommodate that kind of fish. The angler looking to land salmon in Alaska will obviously want to look at a much larger net.
The sizes to consider are the length of the handle (some handles telescope, offering varying lengths), the size of the net opening (they are generally oval in shape), and the overall length (which will play a role in transporting). You want a net that will handle the type of fishing you are doing, and the type and size of the fish involved, but you also want to consider how you are planning on carrying the net, and whether you might use it from a boat.
The mesh in a net can come in various depths, and again you want to consider what you are fishing and how. If you’re fishing from a boat, you’ll want a longer net (also with a longer handle) since you’ll have to reach down some distance to land a fish. If you are wading in a stream, this mesh can and should be a lot shorter (less hang depth) because you won’t need it to land a fish, and the excess will just get caught on the bramble and bushes.
The mesh itself can be made of any number of different kinds of materials, from cotton and plastic, to nylon, rubber, silk and polyethylene. Rubber nets, or rubber bags as they are called, are gaining in popularity over the last decade because they tend not to snarl fish hooks; in other words, fish hooks have a harder time getting demolished in a rubber mesh. Regardless, you want to look at the color of the mesh: bright colors, even white, may scare fish off, and a dark color may work well in certain stream conditions, but get lost in others. A popular color these days is “ghost,” which is essentially clear which tends to be invisible to fish when it is submerged in water.
Another mesh consideration is the weave itself. If there are too many open holes, if the mesh is not very small and tight, a fish taken in the net can catch a gill or a fin and get hurt or damaged. This is not good, particularly if one is practicing catch and release - you don’t want to release a damaged fish.
Another consideration is the attachment. Many fly fishers will be trudging down to the stream for a day of fishing, carrying various amounts of other gear, so you want the appropriate fishing net to attach easily and not be a carry burden. Some of them are magnetized so they just snap right on to a fishing vest with a magnet, can be retrieved easily and returned to storage just as quickly. This works with Velcro, too. Others have loops and that be attached with a quick clip. Just remember that you might have a rod in one hand, so you want to get at the net with only one free hand. Also, many anglers use a rubber band to hold the mesh bag to the net frame so it doesn’t swing wildly and get caught in the bushes.
The frames for fly fishing nets can be made of several types of materials, like composite, steel and aluminum, but you will see many of them made of wood. Wood is a great choice because it floats and it is very attractive for the purists mentioned above. It is, however, often much heavier than, say, aluminum, and weight is a consideration depending on how far you must pack in to your favorite fishing spot.
When using landing nets experienced fly fishers recommend scooping the fish length-wise, approach the head first. The reason for this is that the oval shape of most nets make it difficult to scoop a fish up sideways, and fish will tend to dart away once they detect that something is approaching them. If you scoop from the tail, the fish will head off in the other direction, away from the net; if you scoop from the head the fish instinct it to jump forward, into the net. Fish, while having pretty good survival instincts, aren't exactly rocket scientists.
Well, there you have it. Come to a great fly fishing shop like Trout’s Fly Fishing in Denver, look over all the nets, think about the fly fishing you regularly do, and select a great net. Or two. Having the right equipment will surely mean that you will net more fish.
For complete information on Trout’s Fly Fishing call toll free 877-464-0034 or Denver metro local at 303-733-1434.