Last week I wrote about How to Choose Between Vests and Packs for Fly Fishing. The next logical question is how to carry a landing net? In fact, I received a couple comments about nets from that post. I’ll share some thoughts and practices that have or haven’t worked for me. Let me know if I missed something.
I’ll start with carrying a net on my vest.
This setup worked very well for me for many years when I wore a vest. It’s attached to the D-Ring on the back of the vest and stays out of the way. It’s within easy reach when landing a fish. To prevent me from losing the net, I use a magnetic net release on an elastic cord or lanyard. It allows me to release the net in moving water to focus on the fish during a photo opportunity and not worry about watching my net float downstream.
When I traded in my vest for a hip pack, I started by attaching the same magnetic net release to the shoulder strap. It worked fairly well, allowing the same hands-free operation mentioned above.
The biggest problem was the additional weight. Combined with the hip pack, I could feel pain in my shoulder where the strap layed. After a long day of fishing and multiple days on the water, I found myself always adjusting the strap to a different location over the shoulder and away from my neck. I’d seen other options available to carry a net and decided to try them.
The Smith Creek Holster was the next one I tried.
My goal was to remove it from my shoulder and attach it to my waist. The Smith Creek Holster fits on an existing belt of some sort. I used it on my hip pack and felt it was an improvement in removing excess weight over the shoulder. I could slide the holster around the belt so it would ride close to the middle of my back. I attached the same magnetic net release. The holster is made with an adjustable velcro strap to fit the handle of your net.
Let me pause a moment and demonstrate the two ways I know to attach a cord to your net.
I’ve always used an eye bolt screw that came with my nets and secured to the bottom of the handle. I had a similar magnet attached to the split ring that I’ve since removed.
The net on the right is how my wife attaches hers at the top of the net around the hoop. She’s used it that way for years as well.
There’s no right or wrong way to attach them. It’s whatever works for you.
The problem I had with the Smith Creek Holster was the way my strap, handle, and cord fit inside the adjustable strap/holster. It would catch when I removed the net from the holster to land a fish and on more than one occasion, the holster would pull away from my belt. I think if the cord was attached like my wife’s, it might have eliminated most of the problem. The other consideration is the net handle. Is it wide at the bottom and tapered? If so, you need to adjust the strap to account for the handle. Overall, it didn’t seem to work for me.
I purchased the next product from my friend Mike Avery at Snake River Nets. Besides wading belts, Mike creates beautiful hand-crafted wooden nets in assorted sizes. In fact, he just announced a new product – wooden rod cases. Be sure to check out his website!
The Umpqua wading belt is what I’m currently using. I’ve used it over a year and really like it. The belt takes the place of my wading belt. There is a holster on the back of the wading belt where my net easily slides in and stays secure. It even holds a long-handled net when I choose to carry it. And yes, it does fit with my existing hip pack. I place the hip pack strap on top of the wading belt, so there is an extra one around my waist, but it seems to work fine.
My wife attaches her net to the sling pack she uses to fish. You’ll notice, she too uses a magnetic net release and strap to hold her net. It seems to work for her.
If you have another method, be sure to leave a Comment below. I’m always learning!
Here are Amazon links to the products I mentioned above. Support your local fly shop first if there is one in your area. Otherwise, you can use these links.
Enjoy…go fish, stay safe!
(John Kreft is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.)