Selected wisdom and opinion, but I don't know which is which.
I am often asked questions about landing net bags, so I would like to share with you my opinions and observations. First I have found very little scientific information regarding net bag selection. There are studies* that have shown a decrease in fish mortality when using barbless hooks, there is also information that soft fabric or rubber net bags cause less injury than the hard nylon knotted net bags. Other studies have demonstrated lower fish mortality when using a landing net with a soft bag, rather than "bank landing" a fish on a gravel or grass surface. I would also remark that the aquarium fish industry are still commonly using the soft nylon net bags to handle fish that are often valued in the hundreds of dollars. Given the above information, here are my thoughts...
1. Probably it is best to quickly play and release a small fish without handling using debarbed hooks. Remember small fish are "baby fish" and should be handled gently......they are just a few years away from being a trophy.
2. Use a soft catch and release bag of either nylon or "rubber" to control and quickly release a larger fish rather than playing to exhaustion to hand land or bank landing. (Studies show higher lactic acid levels in larger fish, than smaller fish after being caught and landed.)
3. If you are having trouble with hooks catching in a nylon bag ...you are not effectively debarbing your hooks......which diminishes any difference in bag material.
4. I find nets with a clear rubber net bag are somewhat more cumbersome to carry (my opinion)..........but I use a net with a clear rubber net bag in my boat net and find that fish are definitely less "spooked" or frightened by this type of bag rather than a dark colored bag (again in my opinion).
*Catch-and-release angling: A review with
guidelines for the proper fish handling practices, S.J.Casselman,
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, July 2005,
This is a nice review of multiple studies regarding fish mortality from multiple factors.
Landing net bag Options.
I stock several styles of landing net bags including traditional knotted bags of both cotton and soft nylon , as well as the more modern catch and release bags of either nylon or "rubber". ( The "rubber" bags are either PVC or silicone rubber.) For a net that is mainly for display, a traditional bag looks very handsome. The black woven nylon is very "fish friendly" and looks good when hung on the wall as well particularly when hung by the River Fork Hanger that is supplied with each net. I personally find the "rubber" bags less attractive and some what cumbersome to carry. I find they work well in the larger hoops and I have them available for nets starting with a hoop of 42 inches (the Steelheader model).
For my net makin' friends.
I have had a number of inquiries about a source of catch and release net bags for anglers either restringing an old net or making their own frame. I am now offering for sale the soft nylon net bags that I have had custom made. These net bags are made in the USA, and are priced at about $15.xx for the first bag (post paid) and $12 for the second and $10 for an additional net bag. For larger quantities please contact me for pricing. I will supply a nylon cord for stringing your net and offer advice as requested.
My net bags come in four sizes and will fit frames with a circumference of approximately 34 inches, 36 inches, 42 inches and 45 inches. I find that the woven nylon net bags fit best if they are slightly stretched while being strung into the frame.
Step one: measure the circumference of your net frame using a flexible cloth or paper tape.
Step two: Use the circumference of the frame to determine which of these net bags is best fit. The circumference listed for the bags below is the circumference of the frame for which I use this bag. Important! The measurement of the net bags is not an exact science, these net bags vary every time I order a new supply. I always suggest buying the net bag before you make your hoop. If the net bag is a little too big, an old trick is dipping the nylon net bag in hot (near boiling water) this will shrink the bag up to an inch or two. Beware that isn't for the faint hearted....
Available Net Bags:New for 2015 Tenkara Net Bags.
There seems to be a growing interest in small Tenkara style nets. I have made a
number of nets for fly fishermen in Japan and have designed this bag to their specifications.
These smaller net bags are offered to those that would like to try and make this style of net.
Offered in black, gold and blue. Made for a 29-30 inch circumference hoop: 2 net bags for $25 postpaid. (the PayPal button is coming)
Please let me know if there is interest, in more of the green net bags or bucket style bags, for those who would like to build their own Tenkara style net.
34 inch circumference ( measures about 15 inches across the top by 9 inches deep)
36 inch circumference (measures about 16 inches across the top by 9 inches deep)
40-42 inches circumference (measures about 20 inches across the top by 14.5 inches deep)
42-44 inch circumference ( measures about 22 inches across the top by 14.5 inches deep)
More styles and odds and ends to come.
Rubber style bags for a 42 inch circumference frame.first net bag: $20 each postpaid; additional net bags are $15 each
Antique cotton bags, hand woven in Post WWII Japan. $25 each no volume discount.