There’s nothing worse than losing your catch at the last possible moment. In a moment, all of your planning, locating, and waiting can be rendered obsolete by a fish escaping from the edge of your boat or, even more embarrassingly, by a fish jumping from your boat and back into the deep. That’s where landing nets come in.
Using a landing net is extremely useful for guaranteeing that catch when you have a fish right at your feet. After reeling the fish in close, there’s a chance the line can go slack if you’re not careful, which can in turn result in a loose hookset and an escaped fish. By using a landing net, you can secure them when they’re close to stop this from happening. They’re also great for catch and release!
We’ve compiled eight of our favorite landing nets along with a short writeup of why we think they’re deserving of this list. There’s also a lot of information here about the nets themselves, so you can learn for yourself how these nets can differ, ensuring the purchase you make is the best one for your planned fishing trip.
Before you buy your net, there are two main questions you should ask yourself.
Where do you typically fish?
Where and how you fish will have a bearing on the type of net you get, from its size to its durability. If you’re kayaking, for example, you’ll want a shorter net as opposed to the nets you’ll use on larger vessels, if you’re even on a vessel at all. The size is correlative to the weight, too, so having a large and heavy rubber net in something like a kayak will mess up your balance and ruin your experience.
What species do you fish for?
Different fish are more sensitive than others, meaning nets intended for tougher breeds, like catfish, can damage softer fish, like trout, when cradling them. This isn’t only better for the fish, which is important if you’re catching and releasing, but the fish will be calmer if it isn’t actively in pain. If you do need stronger nets to catch bigger and meaner fish, look into nets that have been treated with rubber coating or rubber mesh.
Consider the fish you’re fishing for and the boat you’re fishing in and buy a net that works well with both.
In a hurry?
This is our Winner!
Best Landing Net for Any Species - Reviews
The medium variant of the EGO S2 Slider net is best if you’re fishing out of a boat. Why? It’s extendable 29-inch to 60-inch shaft is activated by the push of a button, making it easy to store whilst getting maximum distance and performance out of it.
The mesh bag is made from rubber, and so won’t harm the skin of more delicate fish and is 15-inches deep to accommodate fish of all sizes.
If you happen to drop the net from your boat during fishing, let us reassure you by telling you that it’s buoyant, and so will float.
The long deep bag variant of the EGO S2 Slider was the winner of the 2010 iCAST Best of Show Award, solidifying its reputation as a gold standard net amongst its competitors.
This time around the bag is an impressive 24-inches deep, and it stretches to 36-inches when faced with a hefty fish. This makes it great for bagging fish of all sizes and types, but it's great for bass and walleye in particular.
Its handle extends from 29-inches to 60-inches like the above net, and it's rated to tackle fish up to 20 pounds when fully extended and 30 pounds when retracted.
As the name suggests, the net bag material of the Frabill Conservation Series is composed of 100% knotless mesh which is not only gentle on fish bodies but it’s also tangle-free and easy to use.
It’s rated to catch a lot of different freshwater and saltwater fish, like bass, walleye, and speckled trout. It also has a telescopic handle that provides extra reach and can even be used with just one hand.
A cam-locking yoke provides added stability to the net, too.
The EGO Reach Crappie Net is, as the product title says, EGO’s crappie net variant. It telescopes out to an impressive 8 foot 6 inches and, when you’ve reached a comfortable extension level, it locks in place to keep its durability.
It has a lightweight hoop that’s 18-inches long and 14-inches wide, because it’s designed to perform better at the further distances that are made possible with this net.
Next up is a net that’s engineered towards landing trout but, since it’s designed to handle them without harm, it’s capable of bagging others if you really need to. It’s the EGO Blackwater Trout, a sophisticated net option that uses Measure Net tech to get an idea of how big your catch is without lifting it out of the water.
It also has a slip-resistant grip so it won’t slip out of your hand and, if it were to do that, it has a retractable tether that you can clip to your belt.
The mesh bag is vinyl-coated, and it can be replaced, allowing you to use different nets for different species.
Here we have yet another in the EGO S2 Slider series, but this time it’s the Reach Medium variant, meaning it’s designed for use from an elevated position. Its lengthy 48-inch handle extends to a very impressive 108-inches by pushing a button, doubling its reach in seconds.
No matter how wet or dry your hands get, the rubber coating will keep your hands firm on the net. The mesh bag itself is made with rubber, too, which makes untangling hooks fast and convenient.
The Frabill Power Stow is one of the larger in Frabill’s stowing net series. It’s designed to be powerful whilst easily storable at the same time and achieves this through a nylon yoke that’s filled with glass to get the mix of strength and durability that keeps nets working for years.
This strength also comes from its heavy-duty aluminum handle that’s naturally bolstered against corrosion and other environmental wear that’d occur through use.
You have the choice between which particular net size you want, which you can choose depending on your planned fishing adventure.
Lastly, we have another of the EGO S2 Slider series, one of the most versatile nets on the market as we’re sure you’ve noticed by now. This time we’re talking about the EGO S2 Slider Compact, a smaller version that excels at closer quarters, like when fishing from smaller vessels, from kayaks and canoes to jet skis.
It extends from 18-inches to 36-inches as and when you need it to, making it great for catching fish that are some distance away from your kayak, too.
Best Landing Net for Any Species - Buyers Guide
The overwhelming majority of nets will disclose that they have been made with catching a certain fish species in mind. The designs for the handle, yoke, hoop, and net material will differ depending on their target species.
Given the nature of this article, it’s not so important that you pay attention to this, but it’s a good idea to have an idea of your net’s capabilities since even nets that can catch all species will perform better with certain fish over others. It’s also useful to learn just to avoid those nets that are only designed to catch one species of fish.
When selecting a handle type, there are four areas that you can generally separate your considerations by. The first of these is your fishing style. If you’re used to fighting fish right next to you when fishing, then you will obviously want a shorter handle, whereas if you keep your fish at a further distance then you’ll need a longer handle.
Where your fishing covers the next two considerations, those being whether you’re fishing in a lake or river, or on a boat and, if so, which type of boat. For lakes, you’ll need longer handles whereas shorter handles are best for river and stream fishing. You should know how much storage space is on your boat, and if your storage space is limited then you’ll want to get a net that has a shorter gunnel height.
Lastly, you’ll want to consider the material that the handle is made from. For general quality, we’d recommend fiberglass composite and/or certain wood types for a higher construction quality. That said, if durable and a healthy strength to weight ratio is your main concern in a net, it can be worth forking over more cash for eight-sided anodized aluminum handles.
Mesh Type and Size
Net mesh type can also be geared towards specific target species, so it’s important to know which kind of net to get that’ll allow you to catch the most diverse populations of fish with little trouble. There are generally three main net types that get used, nylon, rubber, and knotless.
Nylon or nylon coated meshes are thought to be the best for keepers fishing. It’s not so concerned with keeping the fish unharmed since you’ll be keeping it, and because of this they’re designed with stopping the fish from escaping in mind.
Rubber is often touted as the catch-and-release option for fishing since rubber meshes are soft, meaning they don’t rub and damage the fragile scales and gills of the fish you catch. It also preserves the natural slime that’s on the surface of their bodies, which is also good for lifting multiple types of fish without incident.
Knotless meshes are another soft and lightweight option for the fish’s scales and gills, but it’s mainly recommended for river and stream fishing, particularly for trout.
The size also determines which fish your net can comfortably handle, with a small micro-mesh at 3/16-inches usually being the norm for delicate fish. Heavier and hardier fish often demand heavier meshes, so you won’t want a micro-mesh when dealing with bass.
Your mesh bag should be at the right depth to get your fish and so, if you want to get the most types of fish with the same net, erring on the side of buying a deeper mesh bag can be useful. You don’t want to get mesh bags that can get easily tangled, however.
The hoop width must accommodate the targeted species, which again may mean erring on a larger hoop to get both large and smaller species of fish. Look for scoops on the end of some hoop designs, too, since they’re often engineered to funnel and tip fish into the mesh bag.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you make a landing net float?
If you haven’t got a net that floats but don’t want to turn in your old reliable net, then there are buoyancy aids you can purchase that can get installed just beneath its hoop. This way you’ll save some money by not buying a whole new net, and you’ll make the net buoyant so there’s much less chance of you losing it.
How do you install a magnetic net release?
Assuming getting a commercial magnetic net release is untenable, you’ll want to find an alternate way of rigging it. Nets, fishing vests, and even wading jackets come with an abundance of loops and D-rings to enable them to be connected. However, if you have your heart set on using a magnetic release, there is a way you can jury-rig it yourself.
This will likely still involve purchasing a magnetic release kit, which can vary in price depending on the size you get. With one of these release kits you’ll get connected magnets that are connected by the other side by looped cable, and a carabiner.
The cable is attached to the handle of your net, whereas the magnet side is attached to the top of your vest or jacket via a D-ring or some other secure fastening.