To net or not to net. That is the question.

Discussion in 'Spey Clave' started by North 40 Fly Shop, Feb 24, 2012.

  1. sashjo

    sashjo Member

    Jul 14, 2003
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    Lakewood, WA.
    I was under the impression that only Indians could use a net so I never use one.
  2. fullerfly

    fullerfly Calvin Fuller

    May 17, 2005
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    Sandpoint, ID
    Good answer Salmo and sashjo. Pretty funny stuff right there.
  3. Runejl

    Runejl Josh

    Sep 7, 2006
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    Bellingham, Washington
    I have packed a net in before while walk in fishing, its a major pain in the butt, and with the chances of actually catching a Steelhead really not worth it. However, if I were to be using a boat to get from place to place and be fishing with a partner I would always have a net. The net that I have is large and rubber coated. When the net and partner to man the net were available I would always choose to use it. The first time that fish gets close you have a chance to finish the fight and let the fish go. Less energy expended by the fish means a better chance of survival. I have had a lot of fish that put up multiple runs after I got them close.
  4. Steelie Mike

    Steelie Mike Active Member

    Sep 22, 2004
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    Camas, WA
    Home Page:
    There are certainly times when a net comes in handy for both the fish and the fishermen, it just depends on the circumstances. A good buddy that has tailed a lot of fish over the years or knows how to work a net is also a big deal. If they suck, you suck because you just lost a fish because your relied on them to do your work. I say that from first hand experience with friends tailing fish and nets. It comes down to where you are and whats going on. I have a large rubber Cummings net that I keep in the boat for both wade and boat fishing, but it almost never comes out when just walk and wade fishing. It is just too much of a pain in the ass to carry along when you hike from spot to spot.

    We all have spots that we fish that due to current, trees, obstructions, etc make it hard to land fish. When you have a 12+ foot rod in your hands and crap all over the place, then add current, rocks or a narrow corridor into the situation, sometimes a net comes in handy. The net just has to be appropriate for the situation and with a safe design for the fish.
  5. FT

    FT Active Member

    Mar 29, 2005
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    Burlington, WA
    I haven't used or carried a net when fishing for nearly 50 years when I decided it was just a pain to carry one at age 10 or 11. Nets and walking or wading just get in the way and hang up at the most inopportune time. And if using a boat when steelhead fishing, I only use the boat for transportation and get out to fish.
  6. SpeySpaz

    SpeySpaz still an authority on nothing

    May 30, 2008
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    Roy, WA
    amazingly, I brought a net with me on the river last weekend, a big ol' knotted kingbucket that a friend found lying in shallow water on the Kow and gave to me.
    I did not hook up last weekend.

    Therefore, I can empirically state that nets are useless in steelhead fishing.
  7. bennysbuddy

    bennysbuddy the sultan of swing

    Oct 21, 2010
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    you have obviously spent some time learning about gillnet mesh size, thou with the size of hatchery fish these days I would go with 4 1/2 mesh for non native steelhead
  8. Klickrolf

    Klickrolf Active Member

    Jun 7, 2010
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    Klickitat, Washington
    Netting steelhead is a bad idea. Salmo_g is right. Regardless of the mesh size or netting material. If you're in a boat you should get out of the boat and take it to shore to land it. The quickest and least damaging method is to bring it to shallow water, get the hook out and let it go. Flopping against a few rocks is minimally harmful if you keep them in the water.

    Netting from the boat adds alot of potential damage. Netting from the bank usually requires 2 people, especially if you're using a speyrod. Lead them to the bank, remove the hook and let them go. Quick and easy.
  9. Tom Palmer

    Tom Palmer Active Member

    Jan 26, 2005
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    Seattle, WA
    The traditional method of NW steelheading is to cover lots of water in a day. As noted by many, it's a pain to carry a net big enough to handle a large steelhead/salmon around, especially on foot. They are bulky. The good ones don't come cheap. They don't do you any good if by yourself and just chased a fish 200 yards downstream and it's back on shore!

    However, these traditionalists shouldn't be arguing a properly designed net has no place in fishing.

    A modern rubber net, designed to gently handle fish, will greatly reduce the time a steelhead is fighting for it's life on the end of your line.

    Two guys (one with the rod, one who knows how to use a net) will land and release a fish FAR faster then an angler who is counting on exhausting the fish to the point they can grab it near the tail. The net combo can also do it it many cases w/o even touching the fish with human hands.

    Angling scenario:
    - Partner hooks steelhead. Other angler grabs net and shouts advice (of varying degrees of helpfulness!)
    - As fish is brought closer, guy with net places it IN WATER and the appropriate distance from angler
    - Angler gets fishes head above surface and guides fish to waiting net using strong Maxima leader
    - BOOM! Fish is in net
    - Angler immediately puts slack in line. A good % of time, hook comes out with slack (I'd say 30-50% of time).
    - Fish can often be released immediately never having been touched by human hands. These fish don't need extended recuperation. Often they are so fresh they shoot out of that net and give you a mighty splash of water on the way out!

    A fish in a net never needs to be removed from the water. It often never has to be touched. If the hook doesn't come out with slack, you can often reach in, unhook barbless hook and again, never touch fish.

    Does a net work in every scenario? No.
    Does it help a single angler using a 15' spey rod? Probably not.

    But in the right scenario, it reduces the amount of time that wild steelhead is on your line.

    I know there are some who will claim to have cat-like reflexes and bionic-arm strength, and can pluck a steelhead on the first try every time. I'm not arguing steelhead hand-tailed are not released unharmed. We know many survive just fine w/o a net.

    But we have also witnessed fish poorly handled. Rocks. Thrashing on dirt. Death squeezes to midsections. Fish held out of water far too long.

    To argue a net is never useful? My experience differs greatly.
  10. Rob Allen

    Rob Allen Active Member

    Aug 28, 2007
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    Wishram WA
    1. use heavy enough gear ( you should be able to turn a fish at will after the first run ( even a big fish)
    2. fight fish hard ( to the extent of the ability of your leader) 8lb maxima minimum 12lb of anything else
    3. get the fish winded (NOT exhausted)
    4 get the fish on it's side in the shallows
    5. leave the fish in the water
    6 unhook and release the fish

    I would never ever ever net a wild steelhead
    I would NEVER try to handle a wild steelhead in deep water

    It's better to have a docile fish laying on it's side in the shallows than to try to grab a thrashing fish in deeper water...
  11. Crump

    Crump Member

    May 14, 2004
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    Grants Pass, OR
    I wish it wasn't such a pain to carry a net when fishing from shore, but it's just too much trouble. When I'm in the boat though, I have a Ranger 9800 rubber mesh net,( it has a 27" x 30" opening and a 24" deep basket. With this you can land fish sooner, and keep them in deep water until ready for release, the net makes it really nice if you want to try and grab a photo because you don't have to hold on to the fish while someone gets a camera ready. The downside with the rubber is the speed of which you can scoop a fish because of the water resistance against the mesh, but on the plus side, your hooks rarely get tangled, and you never have to worry about a fish beating itself up on any kind of shoreline.
  12. Big Tuna

    Big Tuna Member

    Dec 28, 2004
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    Wenatchee, Washington
    I picked up that exact same net this summer on a trip to the Mo. A little fly shop at Prewitt Creek had bought some for Montanans that were fishing the Salmon. He didn't have a lot of demand and sold them for about $40. Those Ranger nets are nice. The trout nets are great also.
  13. Derek Day

    Derek Day Rockyday

    Apr 4, 2005
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    I love using nets, but hate to carry them. It is so much faster to land fish. Last month I lost three fish at the bank that I would have been able to land if I had been using a net.