I have manufactured custom landing nets in my workshop for the last 25 years. I continue to enjoy designing and building what I hope are some of the finest landing nets ever built. I personally manufacture each of these landing nets starting with select hardwoods. The rough lumber is re-sawed and milled into strips oriented to best display the wood's grain when finished. Using waterproof glues and pressure, the handle inset and hardwood strips are laminated together. After the initial construction, additional layers of laminated wood are added where the handle and hoop meet, strengthening a trout net's most vulnerable joint. These multiple layers provide strength to the handle and hoop as well as allow a variety of artistic options.
After hand shaping and smoothing, custom features (each crafted by hand) such as inlays, carvings and inscriptions may be added.
Following a final detailed sanding the landing net is put through a ten step finishing process. Multiple coats of an epoxy finish are applied in a temperature and dust controlled environment to create a protective covering and to further strengthen the wood. Either a matte finish (a good choice for active use because it hides minor scuffs and scratches) or a high gloss finish for those who enjoy a highly polished appearance (excellent for display) may be selected. The finish is highly water and alcohol resistant. A turned brass eye, which I machine and polish in my shop is added to the handle end. The nets can be strung with either a traditional net bag, a soft nylon catch and release net bag or a ghost style rubber net bag depending on your personal preference.
Each landing nets is signed and numbered. While they are all heirloom quality, they are meant to be enjoyed.
A Time that Never Was
When I started fly fishing I began to acquired nice rods, finely made reels and good friends. I relealized that fishing wasn't a game of numbers but a game of memories. I have found that making landing nets added another dimension to this hobby. This was the first style of the first landing net that I made. I thinks it looks like is belongs on a English trout stream. I find no historic record of very elaborate decorative nets from that earlier time, but there should have been. This landing net's "traditional" hoop shape is modified from a classic Valentine heart. I think of as my Classic handle and hoop. It is a very good selection for general trout fishing.
I was fishing a high mountain valley with a meadow stream when I found a small elk antler. It was somebody's reject, with saw marks and broken tips. For me, I saw the makings of memories. The day had been spectacular with flashes of sun and thunder. I had the valley to myself for one special day of risk and reward. Since that first landing net I have use the same method to make others, using deer, elk and caribou antlers.
There are those that will walk extended distances and climb mountains to find a small stream and the hidden gems that live in the pools of crystal water. In these streams a fish is measured by beauty not inches. I make these small landing nets with a hoop 25 to 33 inches in circumference and about 14 inches to 22 inches long. All nets are finished with multiple coats of epoxy. This style of net is available as a custom order in a variety of woods and shapes. Nylon catch and release bags only.
This style was inspired by a trip I made to South Africa. The animals and the land had colors of warm browns and tans in the dry season that I had not envisioned. This net is my attempt to capture that feeling with the Zebra wood and Texas Ebony in the handle and hoop. The blocks of Black Palm represent the patterns seen in the animals and are used to form the center of the handle.
A smaller net for elegant fishing.
There are conversations that introduce you to a whole different world of ideas and view points. A call about building a net introduced me to the Japanese style of Tenkara fishing. I have admired Japanese design and their respect for hand craft. I hope this design reflects that aesthetic.
The common element for this style of nets is the 9 x 9 inch hoop. (32 inch circumference hoop) and longer handle. The handles which are slightly longer than the typical Western trout net, is about 12-14 inch in length. This landing net is good for protecting the tip of a bamboo rod as well for Tenkara style fishing.
Can't believe it was more than 15 years ago. Driving through Vermont I stopped in to show my fly fishing nets to a friend at Orvis. He was impress by my work and requested a special edition trout net made of birds eye maple and black walnut. These nets were customized with a deer antler handle end and a scrimshaw of a dry fly. Only 30 nets were made for the edition.
While fishing out East on the Beaverkill, I had the pleasure to meet Tom and his son casting fine bamboo rods and sipping good scotch. Tom brought out piece after piece of historical fly fishing memorabilia to share with me. They wanted a landing net with a slightly rounded traditional sized hoop and a shorter handle for ease of carrying. During that conversation we designed this landing net style. The hoop is 12 x 10 inches with a handle of 8-10 inches. Shown in Texas ebony and birds eye maple.
Father John reminisced about a landing net he purchased in a small shop in the East when he was a young man. He loved its circular shape but the trout net and the fly shop are now only memories. Together we designed this fishing net. This is a great landing net for small streams. The hoop is about 9 x 10 inches, its shape became the basic for my Tenkara style nets. Shown in walnut with a 10 inch handle.
For 20 years GB carried a paper pattern of an old broken landing net he had seen while fishing in the Adirondacks. During a conversation, he told me the story of this broken trout net and his pattern. This fly fishing net is the result of translating that paper pattern into wood. The hoop is elongated 14 x 8 inches.
Lyle Dickerson produced some of the finest cane rods ever made, right here in Michigan. A little known fact is that he made fly fishing nets as well. I had the privilege of inspecting several of his creations. This hoop shape was inspired by that opportunity.
During my life time we have lost the American Ash and Elm trees to invasive species.
I recall the streets lined with large American Elms as they canopied over the streets of my childhood. Those trees were lost to an invasive beetle and the fungus it carried.
The American ash tree is killed by another invasive beetle within recent memory.
American Chestnut trees were the giants of the primeval forest in North America when first settled. Under these trees the ground was so shaded that man and animal could pass freely. This forest was lost to a fungus invading from Asia in the 1890's. From the barns and houses of the 1800's and early 1900's, boards of this wood are recovered for re-use. In addition a young tree will push up from the roots left in place, only to be killed by the same disease.
The lumber used in these nets is part of the American soil and heritage. Either from lumber off the farm in Iowa of my youth or the ash trees that fell on my property.
I build these nets to remember and reflect on how much the forest of our country has changed over so little time.
You are walking down the river and there in the bottom of a pool you see a trout, it rolls and drifts. How did that fish just disappear? As I have grown older I enjoy looking for and fishing to working fish. If I am successful I like to pause for a moment to really try and see the individuality of a fish before I release it.
Now I look for wood and figure where I can see an image in that piece of lumber. I add just enough detail so you can see it too. The trout for each of these nets is drawn and inlaid by hand. No lasers or computers were harmed in the production of these nets.
The handle is birds eye maple selected so the tones in the wood enhance the inlay. Each fish is individually drawn, then incised and inlaid. I started with a brown trout and have added a brook trout and rainbow trout to the mix. The inlay is of brass, wood and colored stone.
Designs From Nature
Mother Nature gave me this design. There was a curved intrusion in a beautifully grained piece of walnut.I was intrigued and cut out a handle following its shape. The finished landing net reminded me of a tree bent by the wind next to a favorite trout stream. I continue to look at boards to find grain that follows the curved lines of this handle. The net has a deep epoxy finish to enhance and protect.
After looking through my website you may have an idea about a specific custom landing net you would like. I offer you the possibility of ordering a totally custom net. I will work with you to provide a net that fits your style of fishing, your favorite waters, your style of wading and your personal taste/aesthetic. Custom nets take between 6-12 months to complete.
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