I have owned many landing nets over the years. Some were expensive, others were K-Mart Specials. They all got the job done, but it wasn’t until 2007, prior to my first trip to Alaska, that I found a net that would become an old friend. It was a simple, cheap, Cabela’s house brand folding net with a fine mesh bag. It wasn’t flashy or particularly sturdy, but it was compact and has netted everything from silver salmon to pickerel in the last few years. Sadly, the net my friends and I dubbed “The Fish Tamer” was retired this season, bent too severely to collapse anymore and having too many holes from where I cut hooks out. So this summer I upgraded to the Big Hole net from Larkin Works (left). Thus far, I’m loving it.

You can drop a ton of coin on handmade landing nets, but at $200, the Big Hole is Larkin’s most expensive net, which is really not too bad in my opinion. It’s light and short enough that I can carry it as a hand net if need be, but it shines on float trips. This summer, many a carp, trout, and smallmouth has found its way into the rubber ghost net. Which brings me to my next point.

The more fish I handle with a rubberized net, the more I’m thinking they are the only style of net worth using. The ghost net is supposed to be less stressful and more calming on the fish. I’m not totally sure I buy that, and the theory holds no weight in my new love of rubber. I like it because fish don’t loose nearly as many scales, they slide in and out easily, and most importantly, I have not clipped a single lure or fly out of the bag. It makes the whole netting process easier, and you get lines back in the water much faster.

So what style of net do you use? Do you have a favorite?