To Net Or Not To Net? Is a net necessary?

To Net or Not To Net

Like many other trout fisherman, when I first embarked into the world of fly fishing I found myself with a 9 foot 5 weight combo and an old Rapala lure case stuffed with a few flies. Nothing about that setup was fancy, in fact it was downright minimalist to the core. So, when the trout gods finally granted me permission to land my first fish, I was without one key piece of equipment: a net. 

There is an ongoing debate among fly anglers about the necessity of a net. Some will argue that a net is just another bulky item to lose along the riverbed, while others claim that a landing net is an essential piece of gear that they won’t leave home without. No matter what end of the aisle you find yourself on within this debate, you’d be hard pressed to make the argument that nets aren’t effective. 

The summer after my senior year I traveled out to Colorado to fly fish the great American west for the first time. I was wide-eyed and green, and still had little to no experience with how to properly land a trout. I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t catch many fish on that trip, but when I did I was never prepared to land a single one of them. If a net would have been a part of my quiver, not only would I have landed more fish, but I’m virtually certain that the mortality rate of the fish I caught would have been significantly lower. It haunts me to think of my fish handling during my pre-net days. 

When contemplating the advantages of fishing with a net, the biggest one that comes to mind is that the fish doesn’t even have to be touched. Net the fish, pop the hook, and then release. Boom. It really can be that simple! I also understand that for a portion of our community, capturing that special moment is one of the grand allures of fly fishing. Trout are distinctly beautiful and your family probably wants to see that awesome fish you caught. I get it, mind does too! With a net you can snap a quick photo and let Benny Brown trout get back to livin’ and swimmin’. 

As a guy who primarily walks and wades, I’ve found that the Fishpond Nomad Series Emerger Net provides me with the greatest utility without being too over cumbersome. When I’m with my buddies, I prefer to bring a longer net because I don’t want to be the guy that loses their fish! The Fishpond Nomad Guide Net is a great option for when you’re fishing with friends. The most important characteristic that I look for in each of my nets is that they possess a rubber basket, never nylon. I want to make sure that every fish I catch is there for the next person and a rubber basket helps those odds.

By Danny Eiden

Danny grew up fishing the driftless region of Wisconsin focusing on warmwater species, tricking bass, northern pike and muskies with big streamers and poppers. A recent college graduate, Danny finds himself tying a lot of flies and working on navigating his new territory around the Madison Valley while contributing to the MRFC blog.


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