While the rod, reel, line and hooks or artificial bait are the most necessary articles, and in many cases all that is really required for catching and landing an ordinary fish there are other articles that are useful and sometimes cannot safely be omitted. Of such is the landing net, for it is of great value for landing a heavy or lively fish. Many bass and trout fishermen do not use a landing net, but many of these fish are lost because of it and it is nearly always the big one that escapes in this way. For the more common fishes it is not so much needed as stronger tackle is used and there is less danger of it giving way.
Landing nets may be divided into two classes; those for use when fishing from the shore or from a boat and those for use when wading. For the first mentioned use a net with a handle of from two to four feet is needed. The long handle is best when the time comes to net the fish, but it is less convenient in carrying, therefore the longer handle should be selected for use from a boat and the shorter length when fishing from the shore, but for this latter it should never be less than two feet long.
The frame or ring of the net should be of steel or other rust-proof and strong metal. It may be either oval or round and need not be of large size.
The net should be made of strong twine and should be deep and have a square bottom. The whole net, frame and handle, should be strong, and especially where frame and handle meet.
For use when wading the streams the net should be of the same kind but should have a very short handle with a rubber cord to hang from the neck. This keeps the net up out of the way when fishing, but the elastic cord allows the angler to reach out to the length of his arm to net the fish.
Some of these nets have wooden frames and solid handles. Some have detachable handles and many fold up or collapse in one way or another, to make them more easily transported. Some have hollow handles in which the frame may be placed when not in use; others have jointed handles. One may be coiled up into a very small size, but by far the greatest number of wading nets simply fold the handle into the net ring or frame. There are too many kinds and they differ too much to be described fully here, but one need only look through the catalogues of one of the large dealers in fishing tackle to see descriptions, and should have no trouble finding something to suit his requirements. Landing nets range in value from thirty or forty cents up to three-fifty or thereabouts, depending on the style and quality. Some frames and handles are sold without nets, and the cost of a net must be added to them.
Regarding the use of a landing net, like in most other things, there is a right and a wrong way. The proper way is to play the fish until he is fully exhausted and gives up fighting, then submerge the net and lead the fish over it. Never shove the net under the fish. The best thing then is to give him a little slack by lowering the rod and he will turn head down over the net, when it should be raised, lifting the fish from the water. If the fish is really exhausted this may be done with perfect safety, but if he is not you should not give him any slack line or attempt to net him head first. But you should never attempt to land a fish as long as he is in a fighting humor — you always have plenty of time, so wear him out and land him in safety. Also never try to land a fish in swift water — lead him into a quiet place before you try netting him.
Brooks, Lake. The Science of Fishing. Columbus, OH: A.R. Harding, 1912. Print.
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