Fly Fishing Heirloom: The Custom Net

_by Kirk Deeter
_
I've never had the spare money (or the burning desire) to own a bamboo fly rod. I'd be too afraid to break it and I like to fish my rods. Besides, I have some very special graphite rods that mean the world to me for different reasons, but more on that another day.

I'm pretty tough on most of my gear, as anyone who has fished with me can tell you. I'm also no slave to fashion. I wear a ratty old vest; my waders are grease-smeared and tattered; my hats are all sweat-stained and riddled with snags and pinholes from flies being stuck in them. River rattiness is almost a badge of honor for me.

But if there's one thing I really care about, it's my net. Think about it. The net is what you use to close almost every deal on the river. It is the tool that turns the hunter into the healer.
You can use many different rods, wear different clothes and use various gizmos but the net is always literally by the angler's side. I like to have a net that other guides on the river will say, "That's Deeter's net" just by looking at it (that's actually come in handy before).

I just retired my old net. I called it "Wonderboy" because it had a deep scratch in it that looked like a lightening bolt (a play off the baseball bat in the movie "The Natural"). Now I have a new net which I had built by Greg Madrigal of Sierra Nets in Garden Grove, California. This net is made with "Cat's Paw Burl Maple" and Wenge, a sturdy, dark African hardwood. It has rubber mesh and is sized exactly to the types of trout fishing situations I like most. I can see the hours Greg spent cutting, glueing, shaping, sanding and polishing this net to perfection. And in time, I will also see and remember the hours and miles of casts and landings that make a net special. Like a classic acoustic guitar, this net has its own look and personality. There's never been one exactly like it and there never will be. And I like that.

So if you're ever thinking about a great gift for yourself or someone special -- an item of heirloom quality that you can use when you're doing something you really like to do -- consider a custom net, and Greg would be a good guy to talk to. For a few hundred dollars, you can get something that you'll use a lot more and hand down to the next generation. It will also be a few thousand dollars less than what you'd spend on a bamboo rod.