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What is the best fishing net?

Hooking a fish takes patience and skill. Experienced anglers know the reward of landing the day’s prize. But landing a fish is difficult with your bare hands. That’s why fishing nets are important gear to bring fish into the boat and make sure all your hard work isn’t in vain.

Fishing nets are not only good for anglers, but rubber mesh nets are good for fish you may release back into the water. The best fishing net is the Wakeman Retractable Fishing Net, which has an expandable handle for hard-to-reach places, then retracts to a smaller size for easy stowing.

What to know before you buy a fishing net

What length of fishing net is best?

This depends on the length of your boat and the height of its gunwale. The farther you have to reach beyond the boat’s edge, the longer the net handle you need. Kayakers and jon boaters need shorter handles. If you have limited storage, look for fishing nets with telescopic handles that can be extended, then retracted when no longer in use. Keep in mind that retractable handles are not as strong as solid handles.

What kind of mesh is best?

There are three types of mesh, but only one is good for fish.

  • Coated nylon and knotless nylon are rugged and stand up to tough conditions, but can be rough on fish.
  • Nylon can cause scale and mucous damage to delicate species. This is a significant consideration for catch and release fishing.
  • Rubber mesh is the best option if you want to protect the fish. It also tends to take less time to remove fish and hooks from rubber mesh.

What shape of net is best?

Teardrop and squared-off teardrop shaped nets are versatile and popular. They are designed for anglers to gather a struggling fish more easily. Some have a raised front in case you have to reach extra far.

What to look for in a quality fishing net


The size of net is influenced by the length of fish you are catching. It is always better to have too large a net if you have to err on one side.


There are three main types of frame material.

  • Aluminum is the most common frame material. It is strong, lightweight and resists corrosion.
  • Fiberglass is stronger than aluminum, but it is heavier. It is usually reserved for larger nets and fish.
  • Wood and wood laminate frames offer a classic look with good strength. They are ideal for shorter nets for small boats and kayaks.

Retractable handle

Long handles are not easy to store. Retractable handles can be collapsed into a shorter length that will fit inside the boat or eventually a storage bin offshore. The length of retractable handles varies from 2 to 10 feet, with most measuring between 4 to 6 feet.

Mesh size

A net’s mesh holes are important for the type of fish you’re snaring. Smaller fish, such as trout, need small micromesh holes. Heavier fish such as walleye or bass need 1-inch size holes. The biggest fish need holes that are 1.5 to 2 inches apart, because this creates less resistance to gliding the net easily through the water.

How much you can expect to spend on a fishing net

Inexpensive fishing nets, which are the shortest nets and built for smaller fish, such as trout, are priced at $25-$40. Midrange fishing nets cost $40-$75, and there is an abundance of telescopic options in this range with strong aluminum frames. Expensive nets run $75-$150. These are the longest and strongest, designed for the largest fish; they often have fiberglass and carbon fiber composite frames with retractable handles.

Fishing net FAQ

Why is it important to protect a fish’s slime coat?

A. Since nylon and cloth-based mesh can wipe away a fish’s slime coat, it is important to use rubber mesh. A slime coat is the fish’s primary layer of protection against disease and parasites. It is similar to a human being’s top layer of skin. If a fish loses the slime coat and is tossed back into the water, it is unprotected and vulnerable to sickness and injury.

Are there special nets for fly fishing?

A. Some nets are marketed for fly fishing, but most nets can be used. The key consideration is using one with rubber mesh to protect the delicate species of fish that are often part of fly fishing.

What is the best fishing net to buy?

Top fishing net

Wakeman Retractable Fishing Net

Wakeman Retractable Fishing Net

What you need to know: This versatile fishing net can stretch to 56 inches and easily retract to 35 inches for transportation and storage.

What you’ll love: Made from corrosion-resistant aluminum, this net can be used for both freshwater and saltwater fishing. The nylon net resists tangles and is 17 inches deep. It can land many varieties of fish.

What you should consider: Some reviewers felt the netting was too heavy for some types of fishing.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top fishing net for the money

ForEverlast Generation 2 Fishing Net

ForEverlast Generation 2 Fishing Net

What you need to know: This affordable net floats on the water and has a tethering cord to keep it always within reach.

What you’ll love: Featuring a wide opening, it’s perfect for fly fishing and trout fishing, and can be used in both freshwater and saltwater. The award-winning net is rubber coated to prevent snagging. It comes with a long handle and sticky grip.

What you should consider: Some reported the tethering cord was too short and limited movement.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Frabill Conservation Series Fishing Net

Frabill Conservation Series Fishing Net

What you need to know: From one of the most trusted brands for anglers, this fishing net has a telescoping net between 24 to 48 inches.

What you’ll love: It is safe for saltwater with a corrosion-resistant stainless steel frame. It has a MeshGuard hoop to protect the edges. The net is 16 inches deep and ideal for bass, trout, redfish and walleye fishing.

What you should consider: The handle was reported to be less sturdy than the frame.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Steve Ganger writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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