Whether you’re primarily a wader angler like myself, a boat, or even a bench angler, your fishing net can be a very important piece of fishing gear. When you’re fishing with a light line (like I do), being able to catch a fish when you get it close to you can be a huge advantage in landing the fish. Many wader anglers carry their nets on their backs and simply reach behind them and grab the net when needed. Then when the net is not in use, it just hangs out of the way on the fishermen’s back. These nets are ideal for trout and smallmouth bass, but the nets are quite small so they are not very effective on really large fish.
Bank fishermen can also use nets quite effectively. Bank fishers typically use larger nets than wader fishers and these nets are equipped with long handles. In this way, as the fish gets closer to shore, the net can be used to fish with a net rather than trying to kick it to dry land or use your hands to grab it. Either of these techniques causes the fish to escape about 25% of the time. Using a long handled net while shore fishing will result in more fish entering the cooler, no question about that. I have seen mangoes in the nets of the bank fishermen that easily exceeded eight feet! The length of the handle will depend on your fishing situation.
Boat fishermen use nets to avoid having to “hoist” fish onto the boat. Many times, having to do this will result in the loss of fish. Putting a fish in a net instead of putting it in the boat is one way to avoid losing that fish. Not to mention the fact that many of the fish caught while fishing in boats are too big to “hoist” and have to bet on the net to get into the boat. Boat nets usually have handles long enough to reach comfortably from the boat to the water.
The bottom line is that fishing nets can be very important for fishing. Even if you are a catch and release fisherman, fishing with nets means you handle less of the fish, which is always a good thing. Remember that the less stress we can put on the fish the better, and fishing nets help relieve stress on the fish.