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How Do Fishing Nets Work

how to do fishing nets work

When looking to score a big catch, fisherman always use fishing nets. However, if you are new to fishing there is a lot that you need to know before you can start working with fishing nets. Fisherman use different types of nets depending upon where they are fishing. And what kind of fish they are trying to catch. This can cause a lot of confusion for someone who is just starting out. Here is a detailed guide that will help you familiarize yourself with fishing nets and learn how do fishing nets work in different situations. 

What are Fishing Nets?

A fishing net is a large net, mostly made from nylon, silk, or fibrous plants, that is used to catch fish in large amounts. Fishing nets have been around for thousands of years and were used by our ancestors to catch fish. In Korea, there are remnants of fishing nets that were dated back to 27,000 BC. Which just goes to show how important a role fishing nets have played to support ancient civilizations. 

However, fishing nets have changed a lot over the years. How do fishing nets work has also. Back in the day, they were made from thin willow branches, whereas now they are made from nylon, silk, and other malleable materials. Moreover, there are a lot of different types of fishing nets, all of which specialize in different types of fishing. Some are made for catching fish in rivers and oceans, while others are designed to catch fish in smaller water bodies like lakes and ponds. 

What are the Different Types of Fishing Nets?

There is a wide variety of fishing nets in the market, all of which are designed to meet different purposes and ways they work. Some are good at catching fish in smaller water bodies like lakes and ponds. While others are designed to catch fish in deeper and larger water bodies. Mentioned below are some of the most commonly used nets. 

Bottom Trawl

A trawl is a massive conical-shaped net that is designed to be towed along the sea bottom. It is perfect for deep water fishing and catches Demersal fish such as groundfish, cod, squid, halibut, and rockfish. The net is pulled by one or more boats known as the draggers. However, this fishing technique can damage the sea bed as a single pass can remove 5 to 25% of the seabed life. So, fishers are slowly moving away from using these nets. 

Drift net

Drift nets are commonly used in coastal waters. These nets have a larger mesh which only catches large fish. A drift net hangs vertically in the water without being anchored. It has floats attached to a rope along the top of the net and weights attached to another rope along the bottom of the net that keeps it floating on the surface. 

Drive-in net

A drive-in net is mostly used by fishermen in south Asian countries like Japan and the Philippines. It is a fixed net that is used to catch schooling forage fish. This dustpan-shaped net resembles a trawl net with long wings. After placing its front part on the water surface the fishermen wait for a school to swim into the net and close the net by lifting the front end up. This way the fish can’t escape.


Gillnets are mostly used to catch Sardines, salmon, and cod. Gillnet has a wall of netting that hangs in the water column. It is designed to only allow the fish to get their head through but not their body. This way fish gets caught in the mesh trying to get back out. The net is anchored to the seafloor and floats on the water surface. 

Hand net

Also referred to as a casting or throwing net, a hand net is one of the most widely used nets among fishermen. It is a circular net that spreads in the air before hitting the water surface. A hand net has weighted lead pieces at the bottom that helps the net sink quickly. It is attached to a rope that is used to pull it back up once the fish is caught. 

Fishing with Throw Nets

Throw nets also known as cast nets are one of the most commonly used fishing nets. A cast net has a long rope attached to the top of the net called the hand line which has a small loop at the end that goes around your wrist. The handline is attached to the braille lines with a small metal piece called the swivel that allows the rope to move freely. The braille lines are separated by a circular plastic piece, known as the horn, that keeps the braille lines from getting tangled up. Then you have the mesh and a weighted line that is attached to the bottom of the line and is called the lead line and allows the net to sink quickly. 

Holding the net

Before dropping the net in the water, you need to make sure that there aren’t any tangles in the net. Otherwise, it can’t open properly. Then you should start by taking the loop at the end of the hand line and sliding it over your non-dominant hand. Now start coiling the line by making big loops. Once you get to the mesh, you grab under the horn and make a single loop out of the entire net. 

Once you have the net loaded into your non-dominant hand, you have to grab the lead line with your thumb. Take two tosses over your non-dominant shoulder. Where the net descends from your shoulder you should reach in the gap and collect roughly half of the net in your dominant hand. Now grab the section from under the net and flip your hand over, this will bring the lead line back up. Lastly, you have to grab the mesh with three fingers and pinch the lead with your pointing finger and thumb. 

Throwing the Net

Once you have the net loaded up, position yourself in a way that your dominant hand points towards the target. The non-dominant hand points away from it. Now you have to swing away first and then swing towards the target and release. Make sure to not swing so quickly that the nets wrap around your body. Remember to pinch the lead just a split second longer before releasing it. This will spread the net evenly without any tangles. 

Here’s an article I wrote about the best fishing nets on the market.

How Do Fishing Nets Work

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