A fish landing net is a very handy tool for anglers everywhere. It is not macho to try to always land fish with your bare hand, in fact it is normally better for the anglers hand and for the fish as well to use an appropriately sized fishing net. These fishing nets come in small sizes for minnows, to extra large for northern pike and musky. The use of a net will also help you bring more fish into the boat by removing the moment of maximum stress on your pole, line and lure when you attempt to lift a fish out of the water and into the boat with out a net. You will see less line breaks, pole tip breaks and less lures being shaken out of the fishes mouth. A fishing net will come in handy should you loose a hat, marker buoy or other floating item from you or your boat. And on occasion when you might see some trash floating by you can be a good steward of our environment by snatching it from the water.
A good fish landing net will have a handle that is strong enough to not bend under the strain of lifting the intended fish. Its net mesh will be small enough to not let the fish go through and not catch their fins and gills. Various materials are used to make the netting: nylon, rubber coated nylon and a thicker re-enforced rubber. The rubberized material is nice because it resists the hook from your lure from getting stuck in the net. This can be more common with a nylon type of net material, and can require additional time to remove. The rubberized material makes the net a bit heavier than nylon but is often preferred because of the ease of removing the fish and the lures.
The handle of most minnow nets are made from a metal similar in size to a metal hanger. These sometimes are painted. The loop or opening to catch the minnow is about the size of a tea cup on which is secured the net. This net is generally made of a fin messed nylon netting. They are perfect in size to dip into a minnow bucket and catch a minnow or two. Using this net is much easier than reaching your hand in to catch a fast darting minnow.
Dip Nets are simply a bit larger, coming in sizes that make them perfect for a single angler to capture common sized fresh water fish, for example 8-15 inches such as small or large mouth bass, crappie, trout, pan fish or even white bass. Their openings are generally 10-15 inches. These sized nets are perfect for wading anglers particularly fly fishers, and by looking you can find these nets that will hook onto your waist or the back of your fishing vest. These nets are made of a black nylon mesh or of a rubberized material. Keeping a dip net on your boat can be helpful when retrieving fish from your live well. The cheaper metal nets are adequate for this task.
These nets are similar in size to the dip net, with the only major difference is a method of hooking the net to the anglers vest of belt. Wood is preferred for stream or bank fishing because they won't sink if dropped into the water. They can be hung from your fly fishing vest. Here are two pictures showing this net in action, one with a rainbow trout and one with a small mouth bass.
The term fish landing net generally points the angler to nets with longer handles and bigger baskets. These longer handles are great for the boat angler as this lets them reach out of the boat and dip into the water to retrieve their fish. This also allows your partner to assist you in your time of need. In fact there is nothing like a great net man or partner. Some fish landing nets have collapsible handles for convenient storage. Some larger nets are often marketed with a specific species in mind such as this Muskie net or the Trough Net.
Ok, so you have fought a good fight, your fish is now near the boat, you see the lure is hanging out of the mouth of the fish and only one hook is in its jaw. You are fearful that if you try to lift the fish it will spit the lure right back at you! Behind many a fine catch there are great stories. From that specific lure you used, to how long it took to bring in the catch. It is at this precise moment that you need a good Net Man! (Or Woman). Having a friend who is willing to help and will place the net in a position so you can lead the fish into the net will bring more fish into the boat. Here is a picture of a very Proud Net Man!