Practical tackle


Whether you choose to net a fish or land it by hand is a matter of personal preference, dependant upon a number of factors. Small fish can usually be brought to hand quickly enough, provided the banks allow it. So unless there is a long drop to the water they rarely call for a net. Larger fish are another matter. They can be netted sooner than they can be hand landed, which is good as they are therefore less likely to be exhausted, but once in the net they might easily become entangled and take some time to unravel.

It is a lot easier to untangle pike and lures from nets with large meshes, but as yet I haven't come across one that is perfect. Stiff meshes are more hook resistant, but not so kind on the pike. Soft meshes do little damage to the pike but are less easy to free from hooks. Whatever mesh you opt for the frame should be as large as possible. I prefer a triangular frame with arms that separate from the spreader block, for easy of transportation, with forty-two inch arms. There is a trend towards round or roundish framed nets for lure fishing as I write (why this fad only seems to apply to lure fishing I haven't a clue), but I still can't see that they offer any any advantage over triangular frames - despite all Barrie Rickards has had to say over the years. Indeed I recently had cause to be grateful for the frontal width of a triangular net when netting a large pike for a friend from a high bank. Owing to the banking my reach was limited and the pike was coming in sideways on, all of it just went over the net cord, but once in the fish was easily engulfed. A round frame would have had to have been enormous to achieve the same result.

A net that floats (not the mesh, but frame and pole) is a real help, especially when boat fishing or wading. I have seen a few nets sink gracefully out of sight in my time! With two anglers in a boat a circular framed net, which cannot be collapsed, takes up too much room and always gets in the way at some time or other. A triangular frame with arms that pop into a spreader block can be left with the mesh rolled around the arms waiting to be set up as soon as it is needed, by the angler who is not playing the fish. For boat fishing the pole need only be three feet long. If you are alone in a boat then the net should be assembled in advance, there being no serious alternative until someone comes up with a strong, reliable and foolproof collapsible net that can be opened out with one hand. Ryobi have recently come close with a French made net with a collapsible triangular frame, similar to those used by trout anglers. It is possible, at a pinch, to set this net up with one hand, which is not the case with the Fastnet design that is favoured by quite a number of pike anglers. The only drawback is the weight of the Ryobi net, being constructed with an aluminium frame, but it is extremely sturdy.

A lightweight carbon-composite frame and arms next to a Ryobi collapsable landing net.

Next : 6 - Unhooking Gear