Even though we love our boats their primary purpose is to get us where we plan to fish. We are wade-fishermen, first and foremost. The only time we stay in the boat is when the water is too deep to wade.
A net comes in very handy when landing fish but most of the time it simply floats by your side. As such, there are several important attributes a good net must exhibit.
First - It must float flat on the water’s surface within easy reach until needed when an angler is fighting a fish. Nets that don’t float are next to useless in our opinion.
Second – It must have a tether that allows the angler to reach for his catch at the critical moment. An elastic tether of some type works best. Too long a tether and the net is either trailing too far behind or drifting too far ahead. A net that does not remain within easy reach can be more of a hindrance than a useful tool.
Third – Size matters! We like the 17x22 hoop size to allow large fish to be guided easily into the opening. Bag depth is also very important; too shallow means a frisky fish can leap out as soon as it is captured; too deep and grasping the fish in the bottom of the bag becomes a circus trick. The 7.5” handle on the net we selected seems perfect – long enough to provide sufficient leverage for lifting without being cumbersome.
And Finally – The fabric must be fish-friendly, meaning that it does not cause injury to the fish, and woven in a pattern that doesn’t grab hooks. We do a lot of catch-and-release, so fish-friendly is very important. Hard uncoated fabrics scrape slime from the fish, which is a big no-no in our game. Nets that snare your lure’s hooks are also useless. You cannot get the fish out of the bag when its hooked, and when you do you have to be Houdini to untangle your lure.The net shown in the photos is the 17”x22” Frabill (SKU3673). It’s 3/16” Tangle-Free Micromesh is coated with a soft material that is very fish-friendly. As you can see, Pam has a nice redfish that was handled quickly and without injury for a successful release. Frabill definitely hit the mark with this one.