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The Right Way To Use A Landing Net

Securing a good fish with a landing a fish should be a dead easy process, but it’s amazing just how often it all goes wrong at the very last moment in the heat of a torrid battle! Here’s how to do it the right way, every time…

Netting a large barramundi at Corroboree Billabong in the NT.
Shorter handled landing nets are handy when kayak fishing.
Don't chase the fish with the net. Instead, always bring the fish to the net.
Remember to always bring the fish to the net.
Success! A nice barra safely boated with the help of a landing net.
Starlo with a nice barramundi, pulled from amongst the lilies at Corroboree Billabong.
Far too many great fish escape capture in the final seconds of any encounter. When that whopper eventually swims into view after an epic battle, it’s natural to experience a strong desire to simply heave the catch out of the water or onto the bank as quickly as possible. However, this desire can often lead to disaster!

The safest and best path for boat anglers or those on higher banks and platforms trying to land fish that are too heavy to simply lift is to use a landing net or a gaff, and a net is the most versatile option.

A landing net is definitely the most common tool used to land fish, but many people make a mess of the netting process, and the next trophy fish to be knocked from the hook by an overly enthusiastic net-wielder certainly won’t be the last!

Securing a fish safely in a landing net has absolutely nothing in common with catching butterflies!

The most important aspect of using a landing net is to remember that securing a fish safely in a net has absolutely nothing in common with catching butterflies! Forget about swooshing, swooping, dipping and scooping at a flailing, flapping fish. Instead, always take the following steps:

  1. Place the net in the water so that the front of the hoop is well submerged and the back of the hoop (where the handle is connected) is roughly flush with the water’s surface.
  2. Using the rod, bring the hooked fish to the net and swim the fish into the net head-first. If you’re fishing on your own, you’ll need to perform these actions yourself, holding the net handle in one hand and the rod in the other. If you need to reel in line during this process, tuck the net handle under your arm.
  3. Relax the pressure on the line just before you or your assistant begins to lift the net from the water. This relaxation of pressure induces the fish to dive deeper into the net, making sure you securely restrain it.

Never, ever, ever chase a swimming fish with a net, nor attempt to net the fish tail first!

So, are you all set with nets? This is such an important part of fishing, I’m going to run through the instructions one more time: Submerge the net, bring the fish to the net, swim the catch into the net head first, reduce pressure on the line, smoothly lift the net. Never, ever, ever chase a swimming fish with a net, nor attempt to net the fish tail first! Such efforts often result in disaster, because the fish can swim much faster than you can move the submerged net through the water (especially one of the modern, fish-friendly knotless varieties, such as an Environet). The fish almost always evades capture in this situation, often breaking the line or shedding the hook in the process.

A larger net with a wider hoop is generally easier to use and more efficient than a smaller net.

Up to a point, a larger net with a wider hoop is generally easier to use and more efficient than a smaller net. However, a landing net stops being so useful when dealing with fish over about 25 kg in weight or 1.5 m in length. You can best land these larger fish by using a gaff (especially if you intend to kill and keep the fish), and look at that here.

Any questions about this tutorial?

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