Salomone: Sealing the deal
Vail Valley Anglers
My attention was distracted watching the angler downstream as he danced in circles with his rod held back and bent deep. The trout teasingly splashed just out of reach. The give and take between the two proved comical enough. I hadn’t noticed one of the anglers from our group had landed a fish, removed the fly and held it at the waterline in his Rising Brookie net for confirmation. Yep, he was winning the pool for biggest fish. The difference between the two anglers, angler #2 had his own net, handy and ready for action. This angler used a high quality landing net to seal the deal.
Landing nets provide a tremendous amount of relief for anglers used to losing fish just out of reach. In fact, landing nets remove the necessity to handle a fish at all. Landing nets extend your reach at the critical time, to guarantee a fish is a caught fish and not the “one that got away right in front of me” fish.
At Vail Valley Anglers fly shop we carry a few of the best nets around, nets from companies like Fishpond, Brodin and Rising. Landing nets have become quite a niche market when it comes to fly fishing. Fly anglers are looking for features like durability, lightweight and function. Sifting through the pros and cons of each style of landing net is the way to discern the best net for you.
Brodin is a classic fly fishing company that makes beautifully constructed wooden nets. The Brodin Catch and Release hand net I’ve had since 2000 has served me well. The wood is worn and requires an occasional touch up but that just rejuvenates the color in the wood. Be careful, wood can break.
Fishpond makes a magnificent line of nets with stylish fly fishing motifs and trout skin patterns. From short handles to long handles the Fishpond line of nets are lightweight, have fish friendly rubber baskets and they float. The floating aspect of their landing nets has saved more than one errantly misplaced net from being lost. The El Jefe model all Vail Valley Anglers guides use doubles wonderfully as a wading staff. The long handle can be fitted with a durable rubber cover that protects the net for this very wading purpose.
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Rising Nets is at the top of the game when it comes to quality. My Lunker net from Rising is a perfect long handled wading net. The length is manageable for wading as well as for use in a boat. However, when reaching over the high gunwales of some drift boats the Lunker can be a bit of a stretch. Intelligently, Rising machines a 14” handle extension that tightens down as sturdy as the main shaft.
Rising takes the net game into new realms too. Custom engraving is easily arranged to give your net a permanent labeling. My orange Lunker net was engraved with my name and cell phone number. Hopefully, if lost, the extra attention will bring it back to me. Rising even engraved my name on the blue handle extension which could be misplaced much more easily.
Another interesting trait of the Rising nets is the waterproof handle. Sealed with a rubber gasket inside the threaded cap the interior can keep band-aids or gauze dry, hold backup flies or a celebratory drink when filled with your favorite libation. The handle of a Rising net is a surprisingly functional flask.
A few words of caution about proper net use will protect the fish and extend the functional life of your landing net. Rubber is the trout friendly material of choice for net baskets. It will need to be replaced periodically. However, I have seen a hot net, from laying in the sun on a raft, be used to catch a trout a fly angler inadvertently lifted from the water. The dry, hot basket lifted a significant amount of slime off the trout. Dip any net in the water before touching a trout. Wet the net.
When it comes to landing nets a hand net is compact and easily transported but limited in landing capacity. Wading nets offer an extended reach with a larger bucket but can be cumbersome when walking. And boat nets are used for long reaches from a raft, in deep water or out over a thin ice shelf. Whatever your choice of landing net, pick one that will help you seal the deal.