Landing Net Bags: 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...
- 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. The rubber nets allow fins to stick through the bag mesh and can cause injury.
- 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 release by hand landing. (Studies show higher lactic acid levels in larger fish, than smaller fish after being caught and landed. A higher lactic acid level corresponds with a high mortality rate).
- 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.
- I find nets with a clear rubber net bag are somewhat more cumbersome to carry (my opinion)..........but I use a net with a rubber net bag in my boat net. I think the black rubber net bags look better in a picture. IMO
*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 on my website
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 soft woven nylon or "rubber". For a landing 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.
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 circumference.
I also have a few antique cotton bags, hand woven in post-WWII Japan. $25 each (no volume discount).