Over the last 30 years I have looked at a variety of handcrafts and wondered how I could adapt or add those elements to my nets. As I look to other craftmen for ideas and inspiration, I am still trying to learn new techniques and improve my skills.
Many of my designs start out as a question. A rod building friend asked whether I had ever seen a stacked bamboo reel seat. I hadn't but I went with the idea and came up with a landing net handle that honors the use of bamboo in fly fishing. I can use stacked bamboo as a limited design element or as a full handle. Each layer of bamboo is fitted and glued individually then coated with multiple coats of epoxy to stabilize and protect.
Once I started making the stacked bamboo handles I started to explore more design possibilities. Soon there was no scrap of wood that I could throw away. The grain and color combinations have started my down-ward spiral into increasingly more complex designs. Now if I can only find someway to use the saw dust. (just kidding).
This custom feature adds $150 - 200 to the price of a net. Also shown are less complicated handles priced $50-100, with fewer pieces, but still with visual appeal.
Decorative elements: HANDLE CAPS AND Crowns
I try to make every one of my hand crafted landing nets, a little different from any other net I have made in the past. An unusual feature I offer is a handle end cap of antler or contrasting wood. A wire braid may also be added alone or as an added feature. The wire braid can enhance an otherwise simple handle.
Pictured are several possibilities that add $50-150 to the price of a landing net.
Elk antler end cap
Birds eye maple end cap
Deer antler crown
Decorative elements: INLAYS AND ART
I really liked the cravings and brass scroll-work on the flintlock rifles of past. I have studied the methods and adapted what I learn One design was for a net given as a gift to a grandfather, celebrating his grandchildren. I designed an inlay of a trout which included the birth stones of his grandchildren set into a net handle.
I saw a board with an unusual area of color and grain. I was inspired to transform that area into the stylized suggestion of a trout. Such designs add $150-250 to the price of a net.
Simpler inlays such as the addition of measurement marks, can enhance the handle with less stress on the budget. (about $15 each)
Decorative elements: MEDALS, MEDALLIONS AND INSETS
I like to add something to a landing net for special memory. Adding a small item into the net handle such as medal or medallion can add a personal touch. I have also added arrow heads, carvings or even a personally tied fly pattern.
Pricing varies from $20 for a simple medallion to $150 for a trout fly inset.
Decorative elements: SCRIMSHAW AND SUCH.
I had an Uncle who walked over much of Wisconsin as a field archeologist looking for the stone artifacts left by its native peoples. One of the most common tools that he would find were small engravers made stone. These were used to decorate the items of daily life. Scrimshaw is an extension of that art form, with fine tool lines incised into bone or ivory then darkened with soot or ink. I have added this detail to my nets, mostly because it was fun and delighted my eye. I like to think that our distant grand fathers and mothers enjoyed this enhancement in the same way.
Decorative elements: TROUT CARVINGS AND A LITTLE PHILOSOPHY
I discover that when I started carving trout, that I began to look at each fish more carefully. I started to see the individuality of each fish I caught. I create these carvings to celebrate that individuality and the beauty of the fish we pursue. Each carving is incised into the wood of the handle then hand colored. The carving is then coated with multiple layers of epoxy as the net is finished, to protect and enhance.
Price $250-$350 added to the cost of a custom net.