Ever wonder if you have the perfect fishing net? Are you looking to purchase one?

Well, there isn’t a perfect net. At least I got your attention!

I’ll provide some criteria I use to select fishing nets I carry and use along the river.

There are a wide variety of nets for the fly fisher. Here are some favorite nets my wife and I fish with. I would highly recommend any of these fishing nets.

Variety of Nets | www.johnkreft.com

The net on the far left is an older Brodin I used for several years before the connecting swivel at the base of the handle broke. I loved that net. It was light, large enough opening for a big fish, and used a clear or ghost-like basket so the fish wouldn’t see it.

Next to that Brodin is my wife’s teardrop Brodin net, which she fishes all the time. It’s a beautiful net with a teak handle and mother of pearl measure marks.

Brodin Nets | www.johnkreft.com

Continuing down the line is a Steve Steven’s teardrop net I use occasionally because it has sentimental value. That said, it’s still a great net. Steve was a friend of mine who lost his battle with ALS and taught net building at our Central Oregon Flyfishers club. My wife was in his class to build a net and came home one day with this beauty. I guess Steve said “take this one home for John to fish”.

Steve Stevens Net | www.johnkreft.com

On the far right with a black rubber basket is the Fisknat net I am currently using. I like this 26″ overall length net because I can land fish over 20″. The trade-off is it’s a little heavier than the other nets.

The last option I’d like to present is the Measure Net. I found this net along the river trail, placed there by a good Samaritan trying to reunite it with the owner. I left it at the trail-head hoping the same.

Measure Net | www.johnkreft.com

Here is a close-up of the interior. You can see the marks…0 at the bottom of the net bag with one-inch marks extending outward 14 inches on either side to the hoop. All you need to do is add two numbers to obtain an accurate length without touching the fish.

Measure Net Close Up | www.johnkreft.com
Using Measure Net | www.johnkreft.com

While the net I carry doesn’t have these marks. I’ve measured the inside of the basket and know it’s 17 1/2″. It gives me a pretty good idea the length of the bigger fish I catch.

What are some of the key properties I look for in a good net?

Overall size – Seriously, some nets I’ve seen are too small. There is a 20″ net in my garage I wouldn’t use because I couldn’t land some of the fish I catch. Consider the rivers you fish for likely sized fish that swim in them and match your net accordingly. The total length of the nets shown above range from 23 to 26″, while the inside dimension are from 15 1/2 to 17 1/2″. Some years the average fish can be in the 15 – 16″ range. It’s tough to get a fish this size into smaller nets. In fact, I struggled to get this one in my bigger net. Always try to net the fish head first so it the net is too small, the tail sticks out.

Too Small of Net | www.johnkreft.com

Width – Some nets have a tear-drop design, allowing you to use a scoop motion to land the fish. Others are more narrow or oval-shaped, with longer openings. I like the latter for larger fish. I think the basket depth is a little bigger.

Handle length – I’m focusing on river fishing today, so will save my comments about the variety of long-handled nets for another day. When landing a fish, I wind up the line and leader to a spot where I can lift the rod tip and get the fish’s nose above the water line and continue to plane the fish toward me into the net. Your handle will be an extension of your arm when reaching out to the fish.

Basket material – Nylon mesh or rubber are the two materials most frequently found. If you practice catch and release, avoid at all cost nets using knots to create the basket because the knots end up removing the natural slime on the fish as well as a few scales. I’m a believer is rubber because I have found the nylon mesh to have a tighter weave and holds onto the natural slim, thereby having that fish-smell after it dries. Lastly, I’ve found flies can hang up in nylon mesh, whereas hooks easily can be removed from rubber mesh.

Mesh Size | www.johnkreft.com

Basket depth – Fishing and landing bigger fish requires a deeper basket to hold a fish. I’ve found that bigger fish are not as “bendy” and when thrashing around in your net have a tendency to use the rubber basket material as a trampoline to jump out. A deeper basket helps to keep them in the net. The oval-shaped Fisknat net I carry allows me to land a large fish.

Metolius redside on drake | www.johnkreft.com

Weight – There is always a trade-off with a bigger net because it weighs more. Wooden nets are very popular and the type of wood used will impact it’s weight. Metal frame nets, like the Measure Net shown above, are popular because they can use materials to minimize weight and still be strong. I carry a net with me at all times and attach it to my fishing pack with a net magnet and leash. This set up allows me to keep the net out of the way while fishing (or drinking a cold beer). In addition, after landing the fish, I can use both hands to release the fish or take a quick picture and not be afraid the net will float downstream.

Relaxing on Lamar | www.johnkreft.com

Which brings me to the fact wooden nets float.

Floating Net | www.johnkreft.com

Cost – Expect to pay around $36 for the medium Measure Net and between $80 and $120 for a wooden net. The type of wood a net is constructed with determines the net’s price.

I have a lot of pictures holding the fish with a net under it, just in case it slips out of hand.

Holding Trout Over Net | www.johnkreft.com
Holding Fish Over Net | www.johnkreft.com

Owning a larger net is helpful at times because you never know when you’ll need to net two fish.

Two Fish in a Net | www.johnkreft.com

Lastly, nets provide a good contrast for a nice fish picture.

Fish Picture with Net | www.johnkreft.com
Camera Ready Rainbow | www.johnkreft.com

Hopefully, some of these tips will help you select the perfect fishing net.

Enjoy…go fish!

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  1. Thanks for another great article. I’ve had a Fishpond Nomad for about a year, and it’s been great so far. The carbon fiber handle looks cool and is super durable. In retrospect, while I like the regular version fine, the slightly longer handled model seems like a better all-around net. The regular version tends to slip out of packs’ net slots, and it would be nice to have a little extra reach while fishing from the tube.
    Another great idea I’ve seen is to only buy the replacement netting, and make your own hoop/handle out of some sticks. Though not as stylish, it saves a lot of money.

  2. Frabill 17×22 is the choice for most of the competition anglers I know. I laughed the first time I saw them because they were so big. But that size is a huge advantage… less time fighting the fish as they are easier to scoop and easier to keep them wet while unhooking and releasing. Better for the fish and the fisherman.

    I keep mine on a retractor and despite the size it’s easy to forget that it’s there.

    Cheap too. Highly recommended.

    1. Mark

      Thanks for your comment about The Perfect Fishing Net. I’m hoping to see a few more comments come in about favorite nets. I’ll be sure to check yours out.


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