Please Sign In

Please enter a valid username and password
  • Log in with Facebook
» Not a member? Take a moment to register
» Forgot Username or Password

Why Register?
Signing up could earn you gear (click here to learn how)! It also keeps offensive content off our site.

Do You Really Need a Landing Net?

Recent Comments

Categories

Recent Posts

Archives

Syndicate

Google Reader or Homepage
Add to My Yahoo!
Add to My AOL

FlyTalk
in your Inbox

Enter your email address to get our new post everyday.

January 22, 2014

Do You Really Need a Landing Net?

By Kirk Deeter

For me, the use of a landing net has always been dictated by the situation. I always carry a net when I am guiding or fishing with others; I almost never do when wading by myself. It doesn't matter how big the fish are, which species, or even where I am.

But my views on this are changing and I wonder if any of yours are as well. The thing is, with the latest generation of rubberized mesh nets and the light composite materials the frames are now made from, I have found myself using them more on my own. And a beautiful net is, as I have said before, a piece of art that's every bit as much of an heirloom as a favorite rod or reel can be. I'm proud of my net. By using nets more often now, I wonder if I getting lazy or am I starting to see the light?

I strive to be a minimalist when I fish on my own. The less I carry, the better I fish. I think it's good for the fish to play them to hand, never take them out of the water, gently remove the hook, and let them swim away. Yes, one can argue that an angler can tire a fish out more by playing it to hand, and "beaching" a trout probably does more harm to their protective slime layer than a net does. But this is less of a concern if you are adept at fighting fish, and I trust my ability to hand-land fish. And if a fish spits the hook before I actually grab it, I honestly do not care.

When I am fishing with others (sometimes people I do not know well), especially in guide trip situations, I know those people want to take pictures and so forth. I know they do care if they land the fish or not. I don't trust my ability to hand-land those fish, especially when I am not in charge of the rod and reel. So, "working with a net" is all about security.

I do strongly feel that if you're going to use a net, and you're going to catch and release fish with the hope that they live, it's silly to use anything that doesn't have rubber-coated mesh.  I flat-out don't believe in nylon nets for catch-and-release fishing.

I also think fishing from a boat, or a float tube for that matter, also necessitates the use of a net. There's too much that can go wrong—for the angler and the fish—if you're fumbling around and leaning over to grab a fish with your hands.

I don't think it's a black-and-white scenario by any means. How about you?

Comments (21)

Top Rated
All Comments
from hermit crab wrote 12 weeks 2 days ago

I find that whenever I don't have a net, I wish I did. Fly fishing is usually a minimalist adventure as it is, compared with a lot of other similar sports. I don't usually feel encumbered by a net. Being decidedly less experienced in fly fishing than you, I feel as if I'm much easier on fish (especially large ones) when I am able to use a net, but that's just my personal opinion.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dangle wrote 12 weeks 2 days ago

Use of a net is best. The guy in the picture is grabbing a slimy steelhead , and it often bangs on the rocks, gets dropped, sand in its gills. The net secures the fish in shallow water where it can be released unharmed. Try to find a video, or any discussion on how to land a fish using a long spey rod! You never see an account of how it is done. Very awkward, and difficult to land one using a spey rod without someone else assisting you. And a lot of anglers don't realize a fish such as a steelhead has a skeletal system that can NOT support its own weight out of water. The person that holds one up by the tail, and then lets it whip around in the air, or holds it wrong, and the fish can easily break its back.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from elkslayer wrote 12 weeks 2 days ago

I've always used nets in my float tube to prevent the fish from thrashing around and tangling line but also to help lift the fish out of the water and into easy reach for removing the hook.

I also used to have a minimalist approach when fishing alone or with others in rivers and streams. The guys I fish with all land their own fish. (I don't really think you get a full victory for landing a fish when your buddy scooped it up when you still have 20 feet of line out). I always enjoyed fighting the fish to hand.
That changed this year when I started building my own nets. I enjoy making and using my own gear as much as possible so it has added a level of enjoyment to net a fish in a net I built. A lot of my fly fishing enjoyment comes from catching fish on a rod I built using flies I tied from materials of animals and birds I hunted and now landing them in a net I built. Yes, I'm a little proud of myself.
I don't think that the net is an absolute necessity but it now adds to my experience.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Gtbigsky wrote 12 weeks 2 days ago

I have been fly fishing for a long time and until recently, I usually did not use a net. After using one religiously this summer and fall, I dont think i will be going back to not using one. I feel like they are much easier on the fish because you dont have to man handle the fish while trying to remove the fly. Also i never really had to take the fish out of the water unless i wanted to get a picture. Using a net gives me more control and is ultimately easier on the fish.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from RockySquirrel wrote 12 weeks 2 days ago

Like most people, when fishing for small mouth, I prefer to do the old thumb in lower jaw method. One morning before first light, fishing a river from a boat, I hooked into what I thought was an exceptional small mouth. Plenty of fight. I was too dark to see other then a shape moving in the water. I reached down to insert my thumb and boat my fish, when another fellow, 10 years younger with better eyesight, screams STOP!. I was about to stick my thumb into the mouth of a nice size pike, which was not all common where we were fishing.

Moral of the story? If you can’t tell for 100% sure what you have on line, net it. And you cant do that, if you don’t bring the net.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 12 weeks 1 day ago

Nets are a very important tool fishing small streams and small fish. Small fish still have a lot of life when you get them to hand. Just as important for big fish for other reasons.

Love your reel, Kirk.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from NHshtr wrote 12 weeks 1 day ago

You never know when the fly is going to be stuck farther inside than the lip. Even if barb-less, getting it out is made a lot easier on the angler and the fish if a net is utilized.
I always have one clipped to my back when wading or by my side when canoe fishing.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from tkbone wrote 12 weeks 1 day ago

I rarely use a net. If you can get the fly with a hemostat or Ketchum release, you can give it a quick shake and there's rarely a need to touch trout or take them out of the water. I use a Boga grip equivalent when fishing from kayak for other species like stripers.

If I were fishing out of a boat, I'd use a net.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from wittsec wrote 12 weeks 1 day ago

I think the skill level, style, and place of fishing all play a part in deciding if a net is used. Given that, I would say one should be used about 95% of the time.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Micropterus24 wrote 12 weeks 1 day ago

You don't really need any fly fishing accessories, but most of them can make things a whole lot easier. Most people think you need nippers, but I don't buy them because my teeth work fine. That being said I invested in a pretty fisknat net and I believe its worth every penny. I agree if you plan on releasing fish you should have nice rubber mesh net.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Flintlock wrote 12 weeks 23 hours ago

Pretty much all I do is stream fish and I do carry a net. I don't always use it but it comes in handy with small trout or one I want to keep in the water while I get my camera out.
A net on an elastic lanyard clipped to the back of my vest banging on rocks (which has been the demise of a few wood frame nets), getting hooked up in trees and bushes, and swinging around when I walk was extremely annoying but one of those super-duper magnetic clip doo-hickey's keeps it up high and tighter to my vest.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from themadflyfisher wrote 12 weeks 22 hours ago

I use a net and will always. When handlanding fish there is just too many things that can go wrong that can end up harming the fish. With a good net you can ensure safe handling and a safe release. It's also easier to revive a tired fish in a net rather than holing it's tail and pushing it and pulling it through the water.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from themadflyfisher wrote 12 weeks 22 hours ago

I use a net and will always. When handlanding fish there is just too many things that can go wrong that can end up harming the fish. With a good net you can ensure safe handling and a safe release. It's also easier to revive a tired fish in a net rather than holing it's tail and pushing it and pulling it through the water.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dangle wrote 12 weeks 20 hours ago

madfly..good points well taken. I once came around the bend on my steelhead river, and a bank angler all by his lonesome was holding up a big native steelhead he had just caught...a chromer, and he had a grasp inside the steelhead's gill plate, and a fish that had to be released by law. I yelled at the guy who didn't know I was upriver of him in the boat. I embarrassed the guy, and the guy released it. Several years later the guy approaches me, and identifies himself as the guy who was holding up the fish. He says something like " that fish was the biggest steelhead I had ever caught, and you really embarrassed me. I just wanted to see how big it was." I told him thanks, and that was my intent.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from James Krul wrote 12 weeks 7 hours ago

So timely... Thank you for your fine article.

We are currently working on an exhibit at the Catskill Fly Fishing Center's Museum entitled "Net or Not". It will have the similar theme as the fine article "Do you really need a Landing Net?" This display will be made up of many trout nets over the past 100+ years, their construction, bags and frames, the artistry and the question "Net or Not".

The historical nets now include nets by Arthur Mills Jr (William Mills and Sons tackle, NYC), Harry Darbee's among others. Many feature the craftsmanship of the maker. Mondern nets will include those of rubber, rubberized nylon, and soft synthetics avaialble today.

Most importantly, this exhibit will encourage the fly fisher to consider the damage to the fish with or without a net. Hopefully this will make all fly fishers to think before they catch ...and release.
I hope I am allowed to use some of these comments to sprinkle between the nets on display. Please send them to myself directly, Jim Krul, CFFCM Executive Director, Livingston Manor, NY. email: alcoif@aol.com;

From the largest fly fishing center in the world
...catch you later.
Jim

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Retired Chief wrote 11 weeks 6 days ago

Watch some British fishing shows sometime. They pretty much are always fishing on private water which is fee-based, and the fish are managed TOTALLY to be caught over and over. There is a serious incentive to keep all the fish in as good condition as possible. They ALWAYS use nets. These folks know more about releasing fish well than anyone, because if they do it wrong they likely will not be able to continue fishing. Also, they weigh their catches in slings, and they are not all uptight about keeping a fish out of the water for a minute or so. They know what they are doing. I use a net most of the time, especially in my kayak. So much easier on the fish and on me. Lots of folks seem to have some "I'm better than that" attitude when it comes to nets. Usually the same ones with backwards hats and stupid goatees.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from drawer.bli wrote 11 weeks 5 days ago

I use nets when I fish from shore, dock, or boat. I think a good net is the best way to protect the fish, without the fish flopping around. When I'm wading, however, I believe I don't need a net.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Doug Leichliter wrote 11 weeks 4 days ago

I prefer a net, especially if I'm wading in mid stream. I feel I have more control over the fish, it's easier to get the hook free with minimal harm and it can stay submerged in the net bag afterward until recovered from the ordeal and is free to swim away.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Drew McClure wrote 11 weeks 4 days ago

Deeter I can't wait to try out my soft nets, I am confisent that the "pardoned" will appreciate it. Cheers from Arkansas.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Drew McClure wrote 11 weeks 4 days ago

confident

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from WVFA3 wrote 7 weeks 6 days ago

Last year I was salmon fishing in northern Michigan when a lost fish made me rethink the importance of the net. I broke my #9 (slammed the truck bed on it, that will never happen again) so in a refusal to get out of the river I pulled out my #4. Shortly after I linked up with a great salmon (first on a nymph I tied myself!) An hour battle then ensued and the entire time I was certain I was about to lose two rods in one trip. I fought it perfectly, my buddy came running up stream to net the fish, and sure enough knocked the hook right out of its upper lip with the net.

Needless to say, maybe the net isn't a the necessity he and I believed it to be. No worries though he paid for drinks that night, no harm no foul.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from drawer.bli wrote 11 weeks 5 days ago

I use nets when I fish from shore, dock, or boat. I think a good net is the best way to protect the fish, without the fish flopping around. When I'm wading, however, I believe I don't need a net.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dangle wrote 12 weeks 20 hours ago

madfly..good points well taken. I once came around the bend on my steelhead river, and a bank angler all by his lonesome was holding up a big native steelhead he had just caught...a chromer, and he had a grasp inside the steelhead's gill plate, and a fish that had to be released by law. I yelled at the guy who didn't know I was upriver of him in the boat. I embarrassed the guy, and the guy released it. Several years later the guy approaches me, and identifies himself as the guy who was holding up the fish. He says something like " that fish was the biggest steelhead I had ever caught, and you really embarrassed me. I just wanted to see how big it was." I told him thanks, and that was my intent.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from hermit crab wrote 12 weeks 2 days ago

I find that whenever I don't have a net, I wish I did. Fly fishing is usually a minimalist adventure as it is, compared with a lot of other similar sports. I don't usually feel encumbered by a net. Being decidedly less experienced in fly fishing than you, I feel as if I'm much easier on fish (especially large ones) when I am able to use a net, but that's just my personal opinion.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dangle wrote 12 weeks 2 days ago

Use of a net is best. The guy in the picture is grabbing a slimy steelhead , and it often bangs on the rocks, gets dropped, sand in its gills. The net secures the fish in shallow water where it can be released unharmed. Try to find a video, or any discussion on how to land a fish using a long spey rod! You never see an account of how it is done. Very awkward, and difficult to land one using a spey rod without someone else assisting you. And a lot of anglers don't realize a fish such as a steelhead has a skeletal system that can NOT support its own weight out of water. The person that holds one up by the tail, and then lets it whip around in the air, or holds it wrong, and the fish can easily break its back.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from elkslayer wrote 12 weeks 2 days ago

I've always used nets in my float tube to prevent the fish from thrashing around and tangling line but also to help lift the fish out of the water and into easy reach for removing the hook.

I also used to have a minimalist approach when fishing alone or with others in rivers and streams. The guys I fish with all land their own fish. (I don't really think you get a full victory for landing a fish when your buddy scooped it up when you still have 20 feet of line out). I always enjoyed fighting the fish to hand.
That changed this year when I started building my own nets. I enjoy making and using my own gear as much as possible so it has added a level of enjoyment to net a fish in a net I built. A lot of my fly fishing enjoyment comes from catching fish on a rod I built using flies I tied from materials of animals and birds I hunted and now landing them in a net I built. Yes, I'm a little proud of myself.
I don't think that the net is an absolute necessity but it now adds to my experience.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Gtbigsky wrote 12 weeks 2 days ago

I have been fly fishing for a long time and until recently, I usually did not use a net. After using one religiously this summer and fall, I dont think i will be going back to not using one. I feel like they are much easier on the fish because you dont have to man handle the fish while trying to remove the fly. Also i never really had to take the fish out of the water unless i wanted to get a picture. Using a net gives me more control and is ultimately easier on the fish.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from RockySquirrel wrote 12 weeks 2 days ago

Like most people, when fishing for small mouth, I prefer to do the old thumb in lower jaw method. One morning before first light, fishing a river from a boat, I hooked into what I thought was an exceptional small mouth. Plenty of fight. I was too dark to see other then a shape moving in the water. I reached down to insert my thumb and boat my fish, when another fellow, 10 years younger with better eyesight, screams STOP!. I was about to stick my thumb into the mouth of a nice size pike, which was not all common where we were fishing.

Moral of the story? If you can’t tell for 100% sure what you have on line, net it. And you cant do that, if you don’t bring the net.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 12 weeks 1 day ago

Nets are a very important tool fishing small streams and small fish. Small fish still have a lot of life when you get them to hand. Just as important for big fish for other reasons.

Love your reel, Kirk.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from NHshtr wrote 12 weeks 1 day ago

You never know when the fly is going to be stuck farther inside than the lip. Even if barb-less, getting it out is made a lot easier on the angler and the fish if a net is utilized.
I always have one clipped to my back when wading or by my side when canoe fishing.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from tkbone wrote 12 weeks 1 day ago

I rarely use a net. If you can get the fly with a hemostat or Ketchum release, you can give it a quick shake and there's rarely a need to touch trout or take them out of the water. I use a Boga grip equivalent when fishing from kayak for other species like stripers.

If I were fishing out of a boat, I'd use a net.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from wittsec wrote 12 weeks 1 day ago

I think the skill level, style, and place of fishing all play a part in deciding if a net is used. Given that, I would say one should be used about 95% of the time.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Micropterus24 wrote 12 weeks 1 day ago

You don't really need any fly fishing accessories, but most of them can make things a whole lot easier. Most people think you need nippers, but I don't buy them because my teeth work fine. That being said I invested in a pretty fisknat net and I believe its worth every penny. I agree if you plan on releasing fish you should have nice rubber mesh net.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Flintlock wrote 12 weeks 23 hours ago

Pretty much all I do is stream fish and I do carry a net. I don't always use it but it comes in handy with small trout or one I want to keep in the water while I get my camera out.
A net on an elastic lanyard clipped to the back of my vest banging on rocks (which has been the demise of a few wood frame nets), getting hooked up in trees and bushes, and swinging around when I walk was extremely annoying but one of those super-duper magnetic clip doo-hickey's keeps it up high and tighter to my vest.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from themadflyfisher wrote 12 weeks 22 hours ago

I use a net and will always. When handlanding fish there is just too many things that can go wrong that can end up harming the fish. With a good net you can ensure safe handling and a safe release. It's also easier to revive a tired fish in a net rather than holing it's tail and pushing it and pulling it through the water.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from themadflyfisher wrote 12 weeks 22 hours ago

I use a net and will always. When handlanding fish there is just too many things that can go wrong that can end up harming the fish. With a good net you can ensure safe handling and a safe release. It's also easier to revive a tired fish in a net rather than holing it's tail and pushing it and pulling it through the water.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from James Krul wrote 12 weeks 7 hours ago

So timely... Thank you for your fine article.

We are currently working on an exhibit at the Catskill Fly Fishing Center's Museum entitled "Net or Not". It will have the similar theme as the fine article "Do you really need a Landing Net?" This display will be made up of many trout nets over the past 100+ years, their construction, bags and frames, the artistry and the question "Net or Not".

The historical nets now include nets by Arthur Mills Jr (William Mills and Sons tackle, NYC), Harry Darbee's among others. Many feature the craftsmanship of the maker. Mondern nets will include those of rubber, rubberized nylon, and soft synthetics avaialble today.

Most importantly, this exhibit will encourage the fly fisher to consider the damage to the fish with or without a net. Hopefully this will make all fly fishers to think before they catch ...and release.
I hope I am allowed to use some of these comments to sprinkle between the nets on display. Please send them to myself directly, Jim Krul, CFFCM Executive Director, Livingston Manor, NY. email: alcoif@aol.com;

From the largest fly fishing center in the world
...catch you later.
Jim

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Retired Chief wrote 11 weeks 6 days ago

Watch some British fishing shows sometime. They pretty much are always fishing on private water which is fee-based, and the fish are managed TOTALLY to be caught over and over. There is a serious incentive to keep all the fish in as good condition as possible. They ALWAYS use nets. These folks know more about releasing fish well than anyone, because if they do it wrong they likely will not be able to continue fishing. Also, they weigh their catches in slings, and they are not all uptight about keeping a fish out of the water for a minute or so. They know what they are doing. I use a net most of the time, especially in my kayak. So much easier on the fish and on me. Lots of folks seem to have some "I'm better than that" attitude when it comes to nets. Usually the same ones with backwards hats and stupid goatees.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Doug Leichliter wrote 11 weeks 4 days ago

I prefer a net, especially if I'm wading in mid stream. I feel I have more control over the fish, it's easier to get the hook free with minimal harm and it can stay submerged in the net bag afterward until recovered from the ordeal and is free to swim away.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Drew McClure wrote 11 weeks 4 days ago

Deeter I can't wait to try out my soft nets, I am confisent that the "pardoned" will appreciate it. Cheers from Arkansas.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Drew McClure wrote 11 weeks 4 days ago

confident

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from WVFA3 wrote 7 weeks 6 days ago

Last year I was salmon fishing in northern Michigan when a lost fish made me rethink the importance of the net. I broke my #9 (slammed the truck bed on it, that will never happen again) so in a refusal to get out of the river I pulled out my #4. Shortly after I linked up with a great salmon (first on a nymph I tied myself!) An hour battle then ensued and the entire time I was certain I was about to lose two rods in one trip. I fought it perfectly, my buddy came running up stream to net the fish, and sure enough knocked the hook right out of its upper lip with the net.

Needless to say, maybe the net isn't a the necessity he and I believed it to be. No worries though he paid for drinks that night, no harm no foul.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment