S4:E25 The Angling Interval: Key to Fish Survival

fly fishing

Catch and release fly fishing has been around for more than a half century. In recent years, there has been a renewed push for fish survival with the Keep ‘Em Wet movement (#keepemwet), the idea being to make sure the fish stays wet the entire time it’s out of water. In this episode, we interview Dave Kumlien, fly fishing guide, former fly shop owner, and coordinator with Trout Unlimited, on what he calls the “angling interval.” The key to the trout surviving the catch-and-release interruption is reducing the time from when the fish is hooked to the time it is released.

LISTEN NOW TO THE ANGLING INTERVAL: KEY TO FISH SURVIVAL

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Fly Fishing Nets: Bigger May be Better

fly fishing nets bigger

I like to travel light. For a long hike into the river, I’ve always preferred my small Brodin net. It’s so light I hardly know it’s attached to my fly vest. Besides, it’s compact enough that it rarely gets caught in brush and snaps back at me.

Yet, I’m gradually changing my mind and carrying my Fishpond Nomad Emerger. It’s a larger net with a bigger basket and a longer handle. There are three reasons why bigger may be better when it comes to nets:

1. A bigger basket makes it easier to land a larger fish

The principle here can be illustrated by shooting a basketball into a regulation-sized hoop and one with the circumference of a bushel basket.

Bigger makes easier.

If you’re trying to land a trout quickly, it will still have a lot of energy when you bring it to the net. It will likely dart one way or another. So a larger net increases the odds that you’ll scoop it up the first time. With a smaller net, there is less margin of error—especially when you’re trying to land a 20-inch trout!

For example, my smaller hand net has a basket that is 13.5 inches long and 8 inches wide. By contrast, the basket on my Fishpond Nomad Emerger is 19 inches long and 9.5 inches wide. This gives me a significant advantage when trying to net a fish.

2. A longer handle makes it easier to reach a larger fish

The larger the fish, the longer the reach you need.

It’s tough to maneuver a trout close enough to scoop it up with a short-handled net. But a longer handled-net makes the job easier. For comparison, my small hand-held net has an 7-inch handle, while my larger one has an 13-inch handle.

A longer handle also gives me more space when I’m trying to land a trout on the end of my buddy’s line. I hate crowding my fly fishing friends when trying to land their fish.

I still remember the time my son was fighting a 20-inch (or so) brown, and it circled around me, wrapping the line around my leg and snapping it off when I moved in to net it. A longer handled net would have given me more distance and time to prevent that from happening.

3. The weight of a bigger net is negligible due to technology

The frame of newer nets consists of composite materials like carbon fiber and fiberglass. That’s the case with my Fishpond Nomad Emerger. The composite materials make the frame both lightweight and durable.

But what about bulk?

Surprisingly, I don’t snag it that often on brush and tree branches when I’m walking along the river. Its design is still fairly sleek.

Also, I suspect that a larger net makes me pay closer attention to potential snags, which I tend to forget when I’m carrying a smaller net. Whatever the case, I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the feel of my larger net.

When it’s clipped to the back of my fly fishing vest, I don’t notice any it any more than my smaller one. Bigger may really be better.

The Scoop on Fishing Nets

fishing nets

When I first started fly fishing, I gave little thought to using fishing nets. We always had a long-handled net in the drift boat. But I did not realize the value of a net for wade fishing until a friend gave me a small net made by Brodin — a company near Logan, Montana less than ten miles from my home.

It did not take me long to get hooked on using a net to land the 14-20 inch trout I caught. I lost fewer fish, and it was less stressful for the trout I landed. If you’re new to fly fishing, here is the scoop on fly fishing nets:

1. Do pay attention to the net frame materials.

There are two basic net frame materials.

Some frames are made out of wood. This is the case with my Brodin net. Wood is fine, but you will need to varnish it occasionally depending on how much use it gets. Other frames are made out of composite materials—carbon fiber and fiberglass. This is the case with the Fishpond net another friend gave me.

Side note: It’s nice to have friends who give you fishing nets as gifts!

2. Do not buy a net unless it has a fish-friendly bag.

Most nets sold today have a rubber or nylon bag—that is, webbing.

This has more flex than the traditional twine (string) bags. It is less stressful for a trout when scooped into the next. The difference between the two kinds of material resembles how you feel when you fall on mattress versus a kitchen table.

3. Do give some thought to the handle and frame size of your fishing nets.

You want a net with a large enough hoop (opening) to land large trout but small enough so it is not cumbersome to carry. Handle size is important, too.

My Brodin had net has a short handle. This makes it ideal for longer hikes up the river. But my Fishpond Nomad Emerger net has a longer handle, which allows me to land trout further away from my body. Trust me, it’s a lot easier to land a trout that is two feet way than a foot away.

4. Do not fail to purchase a magnetic clip with a retractor.

The magnetic clip (actually, two magnets) allows you to reach behind your head where your net is clipped to your fly vest and have it snap into place. The retractor allows you to drop your net in the water without fear of it drifting away.

5. Do exercise caution when walking through brush.

If you are wondering why I mention this, you have never caught your net on buckbrush, walked a few feet, and then had your net snap back and whack you!

6. Do not stab at a fish with your net.

When trying to land a fish with your net, keep the net under the fish and lift it up. If you try to stab or jab or flick with your net, it won’t work. You can’t move it through the water quickly enough. So no “net flicks.” Did you see what I did there? Sorry!

Of course, you do not always have to use a net. You can head for shallow water, and then “beach” your fish as long as the bank is soft.

My podcast partner, Dave, and I did this last fall on a particular run in the Gardner River. We were catching brown after brown in the same deep run. We didn’t want to get too close to the run to spook the other fish. So we would pull the trout onto the soft, muddy beach. But under most conditions, you’ll do well to bring along the right net and use it properly.

S2:E47 Fly Fishing Net Gains and Losses

fly fishing guides

Trying to net your son’s first big brown – and causing him to lose the fish – may require psychotherapy for him later in life. We all have a fly fishing net, and we probably use it more or less, depending on the size of fish or where we fish. In this episode on how and when to use a fly fishing net, Steve confesses how his patchy netting skills ruined a father-son moment on the river.

Listen now to Fly Fishing Net Gains and Losses

Great Stuff from Our Listeners. At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” It’s the last portion of each episode, where Steve reads one of the comments from our listeners or readers. We enjoying hearing from you, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experience.

How often do you use a net when you fly fish? And what kind of net do you use? We’d love to hear about your gear and why you chose your fly fishing net.

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Episode 28: Fly Fishing Gadgets Galore

A River Runs Through It

Tis the Season. Every fly fisher wants either a gift certificate or two in his or her stocking. Or some crisply wrapped stocking presents from a spouse who knows fly fishing gadgets. In this podcast, we banter a bit about our love of fly fishing gadgets. Steve is much more of a gadget junkie than is Dave. But in this podcast, we identify several fly fishing gadgets that make us happy.

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