What you should know about cast nets

Tips to help you buy the perfect net.

1. Pancake Casting

The desire to cast a net where the lead-line and netting opens in the same plane (often called 'pancaking') should be examined. For some reason casting a net resembling a frezby in the air has become a method of achievement without consideration of what is actually happening. Unless the net balloons out into a shape for trapping fish before the net strikes water, it will have to spend time taking the shape under water while your target escapes.

2. Lead weights

Lead weights attached to the lead-line are needed to overcome net drag in the air and in the water in order to produce the desired sink rate for your catch. A ten pound net that should weigh ten pounds, should have ten pounds of lead. Some nets are manufactured to include the weight of the netting material which surprisingly may be from 1 to 3 pounds depending on net size and mesh. Realizing just 1 pound of weight at the lead-line affects the cast, spin and sink rate, it may be advisable to weigh the net holding the netting off the scale before purchasing.

3. Typical Manufacturing Practices

Most all cast nets today are manufactured from gill netting, where pie shaped panels are cut and sewn together to form a circle, …sort of. The tops and bottoms of gill netting are straight, and when sewen together actually produce a hexagon for a six panel net, or an octagon for an eight panel net, …not a true circle. Unless 'blocked' (corrected) this will affect the casting of the net. Blocking is a method of taking out the access netting material of a panel seam at the lead-line in order to produce a more rounded net or circle. Most manufactured cast nets are not blocked, nor have enough panels to even come close to resembling a circle. Question the seller, and if not known lay out the net on the ground to find out.

4. Monofilament

Most store bought cast nets are made from monofilament thickness of high strength and thickness that are bulky and hard to manage constantly in producing good casts. The monofilament may be in the range of 0.52mm thickness and up for a mullet net, smaller for a bait net. The mono feels stiff, hard and milky white. A good quality netting will be clear, limp, soft, yet maintaining strength. When casting such a net you get 'feedback', …you know instantly the quality of the cast and correction if needed. You can't get this with a net that has no 'feel.'

5. Net Styles

Most cast nets sold are the more popular 'braille' nets, or sometimes called the English net. This type net does not require trapping the catch on the bottom as does the 'bag' net, sometimes called the Spanish net. Brailles run inside the cast net connecting the hand-line to the lead-line. This allows closure of the net in deper water without having to trap your catch on the bottom. However, often a braille net is used to trap on the bottom if needed. Brailles are normally made of high test strength monofilament. The number of brailles should be considered when purchasing your cast net. Too few brailles will allow your catch to escape. A rule of thumb: the larger the cast net, the more brailles should be obvious. Better yet, the brailles should be spaced no more than say 20 to 24 inches apart on the lead-line. For a 10 foot net the circumstance is 2 times pi times Radius, or (2 x 3.14 x 10) x 12 = 754 inched. Divide that by 24 and you get 32 brailles, a lot more that most net makers offer. By having more brailles the test strength of the mono can be reduced making them easier to manage.

6. Net Coloring

Color of the netting affects visibility, as does the lack of color. High quality monofilament is limp, soft and very clear. It also refracts light. In daylight this refraction makes the netting very visible to your intended catch. Understand too, that fish 'silhouette', meaning they use the sun or moonlight to see. Colored netting is desirable by sufficiently reducing light refraction, such as Olive Green. This is effective also as the net sinks under water. Think about all the fishing lines of different colors.

7. Sink Rate

Many things affect sink rate. All too often the amont of lead is thought of as the only contributing factor. Lead is used to overcome net drag. Obviously net drag is affected by the amount of netting, the thickness of the monofilament, and the size of the mesh. First, a 8 ft net has an area of a little over 200 sq ft. Normally the 8 ft net would have 1.0lbs/ft radius, or 8 lds of lead. A 10 ft net has an area of 314 sq ft, also with 1.0lbs/ft radius or 10 lbs of lead. Same sink rate? …not even close. Over 50% more net drag with only 20% more lead. You would have to 15 lbs of lead to equal the sink rate of the 8 ft net with all else being equal. Since most 'off-the-shelf' nets are of a thicker mono, having a high strength thinner mono whould make up this difference in sink rate, ie. a 040mm vs a 0.52m netting. Another way to achieve sink rate is going with the largest mesh size suitable for a specific catch, meaning, …you can't have a single cast net catching everything from shrimp to large bait fish and expect to have a desirable sink rate. Water depth matters when thinking about sink rate. Deep water demands the highest sink rate while wading in the surf with the right net requires very little, actually less than the 1.0lbs/ft radius down to even 0.5lbs/ft radius. I've a 8ft net with 5lbs of lead that works great, and can throw it all day long. Something to think about.

8. Real quality

Cast nets purchased 'off-the-shelf' are manufactured to what sells. They are made to the masses for most profit for return in investment. Rarely does this offer the fisherman a net thats satisfying to his needs, leaving many desirables un-met. Hand sewn is not the same as custom made where every aspect of the cast net is made to your liking to meet your needs. Experienced cast netters understand the need for a custom made net, and this is the market for AllisonCastNets worldwide.