One of the most frustrating things in fishing is the loss of a fish right at the edge of the boat – gone, after you have put in all the work locating and plotting how to catch them. That nice fish literally becomes the one that got away. This misfortune can be remedied with the right landing net, a fishing net designed to make it easy to land fish, no matter your preferred species.
Good landing nets also protect the fish, aiding in the catch and release process. Coated fishing nets are gentler on a fish’s skin and enhance the success of a fish’s release back into the water. The right fishing net also protects your hands from sharp hooks and avoids snagging the treble hooks on your baits. Below we have reviewed the best landing nets, one for every type of angler and species.
5 Best Fishing Nets Compared
Choosing Your Perfect Landing Net
As you read this roundup of fishing nets, there are a few questions you will want to ask yourself that will enable you to buy the perfect landing net for how you like to fish.
What species do you usually fish for? In general, the bigger the fish, the bigger the net you will want. If you target big Pike or Muskie, going cheap on a net with a hoop size meant for Bass and Walleye is not a good idea.
For tougher fish like bass, catfish, and pike you can use rubber coated or rubber mesh nets. Trout are more sensitive than catfish or bass, so those nets have smooth webbing and make cradling the fish easier for unhooking and release.
Where do you typically fish? Fishing from a boat has different needs than from a kayak or from shore. A net for a kayak fishing should be shorter than on used from a pontoon. Also, a heavier rubber mesh net used in a bass boat is not going to work as well in a small fishing kayak where you will want more maneuverability.
10 Best Landing Nets
1. Ranger Nets Big Game Octagon Handle Nets
Pros: High-quality reliable nets, coming in multiple styles, with secure no twist octagon handle.
Cons: Made for larger fish like Bass and other predator fish.
If you fish tournaments for bass, or fish big water for walleye, pike, muskie, or salmon and big trout, look no further than Ranger Nets. The Big Game and Tournament Series nets are simply awesome fishing nets for their price.
Ranger Nets are not stuffed with gimmicky features that are prone to breaking as you might find on other brands. They are designed with one thing in mind and that is to net fish, trophy fish to be exact.
The handles are made from tough anodized aluminum, with an octagon handle at the yoke that ensures perfect deployment every time. The hoops are also made from 5/8” anodized aluminum tubing, reinforced at the yoke. The netting feature ¾” spacing for less water drag and knotless rubber coated nylon for fewer snags.
2. Bubba Landing Nets
Pros: Extremely well built, multiple sizes and shapes.
Cons: Expensive and only have fixed handles.
You might know Bubba from their “Bubba Blade” fillet knives, but you might not know they make all kinds of boating gear like fishing pliers, and landing nets. Like all things Bubba, the landing nets are premium pieces of gear. They are some of the toughest landing nets I’ve ever seen.
Every component is made to last. The carbon fiber handle and aluminum hoop are securely fixed into a diecast aluminum yoke. Then of course, is the famous red nonslip Bubba grip. Unlike lesser fishing nets, the grip length is generous, and there is no way it’s coming off.
For all of those great features, there are some drawbacks. Firstly, you pay a premium price for the nets, but they may well be the last ones you ever need to buy. Also, the lack of a collapsing handle and yoke make storage less convenient. If Bubba could find a way to incorporate that feature into this landing net, it would be hands down the best fishing net for the money.
3. Frabill Conservation Landing Nets
Pros: Telescoping handle, generous hoop sizes, and basket depths for worry-free netting of fish.
Cons: For the price, the build quality could be better.
The Frabill Conservation net is a great catch, pun intended, making it one of the best landing nets for bass, walleye, small redfish, speckled trout, and safe for fresh or saltwater fishing. The Frabill has a telescoping handle for that extra reach, even one-handed.
Thanks to the cam locking yoke it collapses with ease for convenient, compact storage. The net material of 100% knot-less mesh netting is gentle on the fish and the tangle-free coating is great for the angler – making it easier to de-tangle hooks from the net.
4. KastKing Folding Landing Net
Pros: A very affordable collapsing and folding fishing net, with big baskets, and hook proof mesh.
Cons: Sturdiness and durability could be better.
KastKing sells a bunch of decent fishing gear at affordable prices, and the new folding landing net is no exception. This net features a patent-pending collapsing net with a foldable hoop. Both the net hoop and handle are made from aluminum, and the yoke and folding mechanisms are made from aluminum and graphite.
The net is designed well for fishing, with a rectangular shape that makes netting fish easy. If you fish from shore or from a kayak you will like how much it extends, and how little it weighs. There is even a convenient storage bag for protecting the net during transport or over the offseason.
The bottom line, if you need a large landing net that can collapse down into a small size for storage, this is your net. If you need something sturdy and tough, look at the Ranger or one of the Cabela’s nets.
5. Frabill Trophy Haul Bearclaw
Pros: Designed for kayak fishing and one-handed landing of fish
Cons: The arm “bear claw” adds weight compared to traditional nets.
Fishing from a kayak is great fun but sitting low to the water does create some challenges, one of those being netting fish. Trying to ease a big fish towards your kayak with one arm, while trying to net it with the other, all while keeping your balance is fun. The Bearclaw net makes it easier by providing a secure forearm grip to let you focus on getting the fish in the basket.
How it works is the angler grips the yoke and the handle rests against the arm. The hoop is rectangular with a gentle rounded leading edge. The netting basket is tapered towards the back, with a flat bottom, allowing fish to slide in with ease. Frabill put some thought into this design and the result is an optimized netting experience for kayak fishing.
Pros: Solid landing nets, heavy-duty tubing, rubber hook-free netting.
Cons: Might be too heavy for solo anglers.
View at: Cabela’s
The Cabela’s Custom Landing Nets have a simple and trustworthy design that you can depend on. The handle is double-walled aluminum that telescopes to 4 feet in length. It pulls out and locks in place on the yoke (made by Frabill) and collapses into the hoop for easy storage.
The no-snag rubber mesh makes it one of the best big fish landing nets. The stretchable rubber design without any rough edges is easy on fish and easy on the anglers who use a lot of hard baits with treble hooks. For solo anglers, this net may be too heavy to operate one-handed and you may want to look at the Fold and Stow model instead.
Pros: Compact and lightweight landing net for those who must store the net inside the boat.
Cons: Not as heavy-duty as other fishing nets.
View at: Cabela’s
Cabela’s Fold-n-Stow is a completely collapsible net making it one of the most compact and best folding landing nets possible. The handle is made of aluminum and the netting is made of a coated micro mesh. There is only the one size, with a 20” x 24” hoop, 21” deep basket, and a 36” long handle. This is a versatile size that can work for kayakers, boaters, and fly fishermen alike.
8. EGO S2 Slider
Pros: Unique net design with sliding extension handle. Comes in many sizes.
Cons: The sliding handle can get jammed with silt and sand.
At one time, the EGO S2 Slider was the gold standard for landing nets. It was even the winner of the 2010 iCAST Best of Show Award. The concept is a rugged plastic yoke with a screw-in handle. The handle is designed to slide and telescope out by pushing a release button. When people have problems, it is usually with the sliding mechanism getting stuck, or the handle unscrewing itself.
There are three sizes based on handle length – Compact (18”-36”), Medium (29”-60”), and Large (48”-108”). Hoop size and netting style vary on each size, but you can choose from rubber, PVC mesh, and coated nylon.
The Compact sized nets are great for kayak fishing and small boats. Medium nets are great all-around nets for fishing from a boat, good for panfish, bass, walleye, and more. The Large has the longest reach and largest hoops for bigger fish and taller deep-v or pontoon boats.
9. StowMaster Precision Saltwater Net
Pros: Fully collapsing design for easy storage, materials that can handle saltwater use.
Cons: The entire net is 84” long, not the handle.
The StowMaster SS84S is the best saltwater landing net, sized perfectly for targeting Redfish, Grouper, Cobia, Bonefish, and more. The net is made of aluminum tubing, with a solid yoke. The net is very strong and can handle all kinds of fish. The Stowmaster works as well in the surf as it does from the boat.
As the name implies, this saltwater fishing net collapses and folds into a compact size that can be stowed in boat compartments. You can fold the hoop in half with a push of a button, and the handle slide past the yoke to get even smaller.
10. EGO Reach Crappie Net
Pros: An extra long reach, with a perfectly sized basket for getting to panfish on light line.
Cons: Not heavy-duty, as should be expected with a lightweight, long-handled net.
You can scoop up slab crappie with ease in the EGO Reach Crappie net because it telescopes out to 8 feet and six inches and locks into position. The EGO Reach is designed with a large yet lightweight hoop (18” L and 14” W) and was specially designed to make it easier to land fish using long crappie rods on very light line. Whether you spider rig, or fish jigs and minnows, the long-handled EGO Reach net makes crappie fishing easier and more enjoyable.
11. EGO Blackwater Trout Net
Pros: Excellent design and gentle on fish. The ruler built into the netting is genius.
Cons: Short handle.
EGO Blackwater Trout is simply the best landing net for trout. Measure Net technology, a mesh measuring board built into the net, allows you to measure your sensitive trout without it ever leaving the water.
The Blackwater is made with a slip-resistant grip, a retractable Quick-Draw tether to prevent the loss of your net, and the vinyl-coated mesh bag is replaceable with easy zip on and off.
Fishing Net Features – More Than Meets the Eye
To the casual angler, a landing net is just a net on a pole. The truth is landing nets are as much a specialized piece of fishing gear as your rods and reels. Anglers should understand all the technical aspects to buy their perfect landing net.
Here are some important aspects and features that will help you decide on the best landing net for your boat fishing trips.
Landing Net Handles
The handle or tube is the first area to consider in a good fishing net.
- Handle Length – A shorter handle is needed if you are going to fight the fish next to the boat. A longer handle is needed if you will surface the fish and net away from the boat. Get longer handles for lake/boat fishing and short handles for river/stream fishing in smaller craft.
- Handle Material – Aluminum is the most common because it is light, strong, and cheap. Fiberglass is premium and extremely strong. An eight-sided anodized aluminum handle will be the most durable, offering strength & weight ratio.
- Extension – A fixed-length handle is the strongest design, but sometimes a handle that telescopes out with a push of a button can be incredibly handy.
- Storage – Do you require your net to be stored in a compartment in your boat? If yes, then you must get a net with a handle that collapses into the hoop. It is very common to have a handle with a spring button that locks into the yoke. This is a trouble-free and convenient design.
Net Mesh Types
The different types of mesh are also geared towards your target species.
- Rubber – Rubber netting is recommended for catch-and-release fishing. The rubber mesh is soft on the fish’s scales & gills and does not take the natural slime coating off the fish.
- Knotless Mesh – Micro-Mesh is lightweight and soft on fish’s scales & gills. It is recommended for all types of freshwater fishing, and for trout fishermen and those who prefer river/stream fishing.
- Nylon/Coated Nylon – Nylon is the cheapest net material, is lightweight, but is hardest on the fish. Coated nylon is billed as snag-free, but in my experience treble hooks especially will still get caught quite easily.
Mesh Size – A small micro-mesh (3/16-inch mesh grid) is recommended for a delicate fish – like a brook trout. A heavier mesh is recommended for bigger fish. For example Bass, Walleye, and Redfish.
Mesh Bag Depth – Bigger fish will need a deeper bag. However, a deeper bag will also create more drag in the water. Select a depth that will fully contain your target species and a net material that will minimize the amount your lures will get tangled in it.
Hoop – Hoop design plays a role in the efficient use of the net. For example, a slight scoop on the end of the hoop helps get the fish into the net. The width at the top of the hoop must accommodate the targeted species. An oval hoop works well for nearly all purposes.
Yoke Design – The yoke is designed to add strength to the hoop/handle without compromising the weight of the product. Folding yokes are the weakest, followed by collapsing tubes. A fixed handle and yoke is the strongest design but is least compact for storing.
Last updated 2020-09-27 at 16:57 / Affiliate Links & Images from Amazon Product Advertising API