Choosing the Best Fly Fishing Net

by | Apr 16, 2018 | Accessories, Fly Fishing, Gear |

Fly fishing nets serve a specific and utterly important purpose. There are many different types of nets available on the market with some being much better than others. The net must be capable of holding the largest fish you catch and it must be durable.

It also must inflict minimum damage to the precious slime coat that protects the fish. The net you choose depends on a number of different factors, all of which will be covered in this section.

brown trout nylon net

This brown trout might not have been landed without the rubber net.


Types of Fishing Nets – Choose the Right One for You

The overwhelming number of types of fly fishing nets makes it difficult to narrow down the options and make a selection. The size and materials are essential but you also must determine the most common type of fishing you do and the species you typically target. In this section, we examine the different net styles and materials to make the process much easier.

There are several different types of fishing nets that can be utilized while fly fishing. Some are definitely better than others but all are useful. It is important that you understand how the different net materials effect the fish.

As an example, trout have a sensitive slime coat. Traditional nylon nets can damage the slime while rubber netting is soft and will help protect the slime coat. If you are fishing for pike, nylon is perfectly acceptable because the fish are extremely rugged and can handle the abrasive material.

trout in nylon fishing net

Nylon is effective but the coarse material is hard on the fish.

The Rubber Net

The rubber landing net is the top choice for many fly fisherman. It doesn’t catch hooks and it is soft on the fish. The ghost style nets have a clear bag that does not alert the fish. It is common for many fish to make a hard run the net becomes visible. That final burst of energy is often enough to throw or bend the hook. It also catches the fisherman off guard and creates a scramble situation to regain contact with the fish. The clear bag minimizes this scenario. Rubber nets also have black bags. Although they are more visible, they remain effective and would be a solid choice. Rubber is one of the best types of fishing nets.

rainbow trout with rubber net

Rubber is one of the best types of fishing nets.

Mesh Nets

Mesh nets are soft and lightweight. The material is non-abrasive and although it is not as easy on the fish as rubber it is much better than nylon. Many of the mesh nets also have a measurement system built in so you can quickly determine the length of the fish before the release. The Promar mesh nets are the top choice in this category because of the lightweight, durable and snag proof design.

Nylon Nets

Nylon is a traditional net material that is used less and less as the popularity of rubber grows. The standard green netting on an aluminum handle is effective for landing fish but the material is coarse and will harm the slime coat. Nylon is also a natural hook catch and barbed hooks will become embedded and require time to remove. Nylon ranks low in the race for best types of fishing nets.

Telescopic Nets

Nets with telescopic handles are very good. The handle can be extended for boat use and retracted to be easily carried while wading. The only downside is finding a net with a sturdy handle. Be weary of the cheaper models without a solid handle. Many of the cheap handles will bend with a heavy fish in the bag.

Collapsible Nets

Overall, most collapsible nets are not nearly as sturdy as a set handle and they can be a bit annoying when they fall apart with a fish inside. The main advantage is the ability to pack the net in a tight space. This is ideal for river rafting and backpacking trips. We have found collapsible nets ideal when hiking into places like the Black Canyon where there is very little exposed bank and very little shallow water for landing fish. Collapsible nets have a single purpose but they are not the best types of fishing nets.

How to Choose

Selecting a net depend on a number of different factors.

  • What species do you typically target and how large is an above average fish?
  • Do you fish from a boat, on foot or a combination of both?
  • Does your home water have a shallow bank or does it drop off quickly?
  • Do you fish with a partner and use teamwork to land fish?

Your net should be big enough to hold the largest fish you will catch. There are exceptions because some trophies happen unexpectedly. The net must be wide enough fit the body of the fish and deep enough to prevent the fish from flopping out.

If you fish from a boat, use a long handle net to extend your reach. You will also want a long handle for team landing and for landing fish in water that drops off quickly. A short handle is ideal for fishing in areas with a shallow bank where the fish can be easily controlled.

Choosing the net material is a matter of personal preference. We recommend a rubber net for all fishing because it is durable and makes fish handling easy. If you are on a budget look for a mesh net with a solid handle and if you have no other option, use a nylon net.


Rubber Fishing Nets

Rubber is quickly becoming a popular net material and for good reason. It easy on the fish and your hooks will never get snagged in the net. Let us tell you why we love rubber and think it is the best all round material with very few disadvantages.

Rubber fishing nets are arguably the best available. The rubber material is easy on the fish and it does not snag your fishing hook like many of the other net materials. A hook snagged in nylon or mesh netting can be hard to remove and it can hold you up in the middle of a hot streak.

The rubber bag material can be adapted to fit any net handle style and it can either be sewn into the handle for a clean look or tied on with zip ties for a functional fish landing system. The material is durable and it takes a ton of abuse before requiring replacement. The average angler is likely to have one net bag last for a lifetime.

Another major advantage to rubber is the open, non-twisting design. Fish that do an alligator style roll in a mesh or nylon bag will become tangled with the material and the leader. The rubber bag allows the fish to roll without creating an unmanageable mess.

Rubber landing nets are slightly heavier than nylon and mesh but they are worth that little bit of extra weight if you are handling numerous fish. There are several different quality net brands along with the big box variety nets that function well.

Scroll Down to See Our Favorite Net Brands…

rainbow trout in fly fishing net

Rubber makes it easy to handle the fish.

Wachter Nets

We can personally attest the durability of these rubber fishing nets. The “Guide Series” is the perfect size for landing everything from small to trophy size trout and it is extremely durable. We have bashed these nets against boats, rocks and slammed them in car doors without breaking the wood. The white rubber bag is attractive and it is secured to the handle well. We have chosen Wachter Nets over Brodin and Fisknat and they are a great choice for guides, boat owners and everyday fly fisherman.

nets for fly fishing

We use our Wachter Nets on a daily basis and they have withstood heavy abuse.

Brodin Nets

Brodin is one of the original players in the rubber fishing nets game. The company offers the unique ghost net material that is nearly invisible underwater. This reduces the chance of the fish spooking and making a sudden burst just before landing. The company also offers nets with a standard black rubber material. Brodin has nets in different shapes and sizes to accompany different species. Most of the nets have a slick wood handle but the “Trout Bum” series offers a durable plastic handle for a budget net.

Fisknat Nets

Fisknat is in the same market as Brodin because they offer high quality rubber nets with beautiful wood handles. The company uses black and clear rubber and the handles are available in a variety of lengths with different wood finish options. Fisknat does not have a plastic handle budget option but I have yet to meet a fly fisher who regrets buying one of their quality rubber fishing nets.

Frabill is Light, Cheap and Durable

Frabil is not the typical fly fishing net name that comes to mind but they do have a lightweight option that is very durable. The small black net has a super light handle and tough but light netting. It is very easy to carry and has a surprisingly large bag for being such a compact unit. Click the header (new page) to read more about these great nets. Did we mention they are less than 20 dollars?

Promar Nets

Promar does not actually have a rubber net but the Promesh Hook Resistant Net is a unique material that is in the same league as rubber. The material is light, durable, easy on the fish and it does not snag. The net is available with a long handle that is ideal for boats and landing large fish.

Recommended Fly Fishing Nets

Want More?

Although we have provided some great options here, we have not covered everything. There are numerous custom net makers and a variety of other manufacturers that provide quality rubber landing nets. Use our favorites as a general guide and introduction to some great nets.


Insect Nets and Seines

Insect nets are available as independent units and as seine style attachments for your everyday net. Follow our step by step guide for a better understanding about how these nets work, the collection process and how to examine your findings.

Insect nets for fly fishing are not necessary on a daily basis but they are extremely useful. Every angler should own and use an insect net to collect bug samples and become familiar with the aquatic environment.

Viewing the natural insects allows you to gain a better understanding of the insects you are attempting to imitate. You will also observe the types of water the insects inhabit and you can observe the bugs in a “live cage” to see how they act in the water.

What a typical insect net kit includes:

  • 1 White Plastic Tub for Live Viewing
  • 1 Seine for Collection (scroll down to read about different seine types)
  • Collection Vials
  • Insect Preservative
  • Small Labels for Vials
  • Identification Book

Note-

Looking at the insects in the tub and returning them to the environment is typically adequate. The vials are useful for taking home samples to use as examples during fly design sessions.

Collection Procedure and Guidelines

  • Check the Laws to Ensure Collecting is Legal in Your Region
  • Fill half of the tub with water
  • Select a riffle in a river or an area with ample vegetative matter
  • Place the net against the river bottom or on the edge of the vegetation
  • Shuffle your feet to disturb the river upstream from the insect net
  • Sweep the net along the bottom and lift it out of the water
  • Transfer the sampling to the tub
  • Allow the dust to settle and observe the findings

Types of Insect Nets for Fly Fishing

Several different types of seines are available and they all work well.

  • Fine mesh nets with wooden dowels on each side are handy and effective. Some even come with collapsible handles and fold into a small carrying package.
  • Seines are also made to attach on a fishing net. The mesh is folded into a small sack and stretched over the net during collection.
  • Simple mesh kitchen strainer with a comfortable handle. It is durable and hasn’t been destroyed in ten years of collecting. The firm handle is also nice for sweeping through the water with a tight grip.We have yet to find a seine that doesn’t work and seine selection is based entirely on budget and personal preference.