It seems easy but so many get it wrong. Peter Cockwill guides you through this vital part of our sport...
You would think that netting a trout was simple, but I’ve seen huge blunders resulting in lost fish of a lifetime! So here’s the Trout Fisherman quick fire guide to getting the job done properly.
1 Make sure you have a net close to hand.
It’s all too easy to forget your net or to leave it somewhere along the bank where you can’t get to it in the heat of the moment. So have it by your side.
2 Is the net up to the job expected of it?
All I have in the picture (below) is a small, river angler’s net. The handle is too short and I’ve really struggled to squeeze this eight-pounder into it. This was a disaster just waiting to happen.
3 Is the fish actually ready to be netted?
It’s very clear in this shot that the trout has loads of energy left and I’m in real danger of breaking the leader if I try to bundle the fish in before it’s ready.
4 Have you got the net in the right position?
You should have the net rim under the water surface and be stretching out to the played-out fish with enough movement left to be able to push the outer rim of the net upwards to make the fish fall into the bag of the net.
5 Is the net big enough and strong enough for the size of fish you intend to catch?
Some nets have really strong handles and can lift a considerable weight, but the majority are made to be lightweight and easy to carry.
Don’t lift your net by the end of the handle, instead you must either support the handle along its length or lift it with the handle held upright so that the fish weight is carried by the net itself.
Landing nets come in a great many designs but the actual frames are either solid or collapsible and here’s where you need to make your first decision when choosing a net.
Construction of nets varies from steel to aluminium to plastic to reinforced carbon fibre. Here you have to decide if weight is an issue.
Maybe you always fish from the same place and rarely wander the banks.
In this case a solid, well made net may best and it will last for ever.
Most nets are made of aluminium, either solid rods, hollow round tubing or hollow angled tubing.
The latter are actually the stronger and lighter plus some designs can be very tough indeed. The heavier, solid rod designs are also very dependable.
Plastic nets are often a mix of thin aluminium rods and lightweight plastics with the almost inevitable consequence that they will fail at the critical moment of netting a trophy fish. But if economy or infrequent need are the deciding factors then appreciate the restrictions.
Nets made from reinforced carbon fibre and lightweight alloys are remarkable value but can’t be expected to be as strong as all metal constructions, although as a beginners or standby option they are fine.
The final option is whether the net has an extendable handle. If your chosen fishery has high banks, extensive marginal reeds or shallows then you need to reach out and the telescopic handles are ideal. Older or disabled anglers can’t bend down too easily and will need this type of net.
If a longer net is needed then consider some of the coarse fisherman’s style of net with a carbon fibre telescopic handle and a screw in net frame. They’re not so easy to carry but great if you need a super long handle.
FOR It’s much easier to tip the forward edge of the net upwards to engulf the fish and make sure it is tipped into the bag of the net.
AGAINST It needs space to be carried and stored.
FOR It folds down into a compact size
AGAINST It can be all too easy to tip a fish out of the net such that the hook comes free or the leader breaks.