New Style Rubber Net Bags
Bill Leuchten
We've all been to a fishery in the height of the season and caught fish that were in poor condition due to fishermen mishandling them. I'm sure it's not purposeful, but when fishermen net fish using the traditional net, the fins and gills get abused. Another common problem with the common net is flies getting caught. Most of us have spent some time attempting to detangle flies or being forced to cut into our net bags to remove the stuck flies.

There are some new rubber net bags on the market, which are designed to alleviate these problems. I used one from Fisknat (retail $89.95) for my last couple of outings and was impressed. These nets are beautifully handmade in Washington State, using a variety of high quality hardwoods. The thing I liked the most, though, was how the fish slide around freely in the net and don't get caught up in the webbing. It's easy to release them and your flies do not get stuck at all. The bag does weigh more (.6 lbs), and creates more drag in the water when going to net the fish. I couldn't feel the weight difference when the net was attached to my back in the traditional way. However, if you need to quickly scoop through the water, you will notice the drag. In all, the fish will love you for using this type of net and I see a time when our "catch and release" protocol includes some of this "fish friendly" equipment.