What makes a good net?
Now that the cold has set in the hardcore anglers set their sights on the large resident fish that live in many of Colorado’s tailwaters. One of the best tools that any big fish hunter must have is a solid net. Often times your fishing buddy may be too far away to be much of a help during this process, so the tense moments rests solely upon your shoulders. I wanted to talk about net options and help anglers select a tool to help get the trophies in your hands.
1. Standard Trout Net – Most nets that I see out on the river are what I would consider a “standard trout net”. This means that when it actually comes to putting a fish over 20″ in the bag, the net is just too small. You might be able to get the head of the fish in there, but more often than not, it flops out and leaves you with a snapped line and a broken heart. These nets are great for smaller streams and rivers, but best left behind at big fish locations. Remember you can always put a small fish in a big net, but no the other way around.
2. Beautiful Wooden Nets – There is nothing more visually rewarding than sliding a massive brown into a lightly stained net hoop. But these nets have one major drawback, they break. At some point you will have a mishap and loose your best bud. The wooden nets have real character on the water and they look fantastic in photos. The other great advantage of wood is that it is naturally buoyant. Many of these nets come in long handle models like the Brodin “Fry Pan Float Tube“, the Gold Medal “Guidesta” or the Fisknat “San Juan Guide”. The longer handle is not more obtrusive and gives you a huge advantage when landing. All models come with a rubber bag and often times its the ghost or clear version. These nets are as nice as they come and definitely up your style points while out on the river.
3. Metal Nets – These are all about daily abuse. For the guide who has broken three or so wooden nets in a season they eventually gravitate towards something like this. The new age of metal nets has gone way beyond the good old Measure Nets. Greys has come out with a new GS Scoop Net that gets my vote as best metal net. These have a huge bag, the large size could handle steelhead size fish with ease, and small fish. The other main advantage of a metal net is the overall weight. These are ultralight when compared to the wooden counterparts and a whole lot less expensive. The big disadvantage is that they will sink if you let them and they are not as good looking as wood.
4. Long Handle Net – These are perfect for big fish days. When the fishing is that good, you have your spot staked out, camera ready, and net waiting. Deep bags to handle hogs, long handles to help out in heavy current and the long handle allows for easier landing when using extra long leaders. For most guys the long handle may even double as their boat net. Nets like the Its easy to spot the guys who catch a lot of big fish. They carry these big nets and fish 6 and 7 weights when most guys are fishing 4 and 5 weights. When fishing solo the long handle just may be the edge you need to convert heart breakers into lifetime achievements.
Whatever choice fits you best just make sure that you have it on you. Get a good magnetic net release and make it easy on yourself. A net is crucial for safely handling fish and getting good photos. It allows anglers to keep the fish happy and breathing while you get set for a photo or two. Remember the bigger the fish the more fragile they are and the more a net will help them stay happy and swim away.