The benefits of a competition-style landing net
Written by: Rich Ferarra
A landing net, specifically a large competition-style landing net is one of the most important pieces of equipment I own and I never fish without one. A large net makes landing fish so much faster and easier, especially in conjunction with barbless hooks. More often than not the fish kick the flies out without touching them once they’re in the net.
Nets come in all shapes and sizes and range in price from $10 to upwards of nearly $300. Any net is better than no net but I prefer a net with a large hoop and something with small holes in the net bag, this preference comes from my time spent as a competitor, the small holes won’t allow even the smallest fish to slip through and the large hoop makes it much easier to corral fish of any size. On the rare occasion I get a large fish it’s nice because the entire fish fits in the net and does not risk injury by flopping out.
If you use a small-hoop net with a shallow net-bag after you try a larger net for even your shortest outing, you'll notice the inefficiencies of the smaller nets pretty immediately.
In today’s day and age of social media and the want to photograph our catches a net is, in my opinion, vital to take a nice picture. They allow the angler to stay in the water and let the fish breathe and recover before lifting it out for a quick picture or they allow you to keep the fish in the water and pose it for a nice in the water photo. These larger nets really work like an aquarium, the fish stays deeper in the water and really can breathe and recover much better.
Posing the fish on dry ground and handling the fish with dry hands can be a death sentence for the trout. The fishes slime is extremely important to their health and removing it can be deadly to the fish.
Brands & benefits
- Cortland offers some really affordable fishing nets ranging from $12 to $30. Cortland is a great reputable company that has been around forever. They’ve always offered great products and I’m sure these nets are no different.
- The Frabill 3673 17x22 trout net is about $25 and it comes with a fish friendly rubber coated net bag. Small holes keep the smallest of fish contained. Big hoop and relatively deep bag is great for all but the largest of trout
- The ikon double net is a great versatile net. It comes with 2 handles. 1 for stream / river fishing and 1 long handle for lake fishing. The only downside to this net is the soft material of the net bag snags easily on stream side vegetation.
- McClean angling out of New Zealand offers what I consider to be the nicest net on the market today. Very durable rubber coated net bag that is very deep (nice for keeping fish wet while walking it back to a bank controller) great looking olive green anodizing on the hoop and handle and a thick rubber textured paint on the grip.
- The designer carbon fiber or high end wood framed nets are great too. They’re beautifully crafted pieces of fishing equipment that I’m sure I’ll move to some day. As an active competitor though I choose not to use one only because the large holes in the net bag will allow small fish to slip through.
Once you’ve decided on your net you need to decide how you’re going to attach it to your pack or vest. This sounds simple enough but for me it’s not. Net placement and ease of access are crucial. I need to be able to grab my net quickly and bring it around smoothly to net my fish. I usually accomplish this with a combination of net retractors and magnets.
When you’ve got your net attached in a way that you think will suit your needs it’s a good idea to go to an open area and practice accessing and re attaching your net. I’ve had configurations that I thought were going to work really well only to find out the hard way that they were far from perfect.
To summarize, a large competition-style net is my choice for their extreme ease of use while landing fish, and most importantly fish safety, from large to small fish.