By Juan Verute
It's always important to have the right tool for the job. As a kayak fishing guide and instructor, I've witnessed a lot of mayhem that could have been avoided when kayakers use a net most suited for fishing out of a small boat.
A good kayak fishing net has a relatively long handle that enables you to have a little more reach without leaning over the kayak gunwale. Models that telescope or fold are best during transit on the water or in your vehicle. Once we are fishing the net is always out on the deck in front of us. The ProMesh series net by Promar retails for roughly $30 to $40 depending on size of the net hoop. I like this net a lot because the handle telescopes and the hoop is flattened at the end which means more surface area for scooping up that catch.
Leverage is your friend. Longer handles mean less leverage to hoist the fish. Long time fishing friend Jeff Little solved this problem with a homemade net handle that incorporates an arm brace borrowed from an old crutch. If you're a DIY kayak angler like Jeff, this net conversion project will definitely up your netting game.
Let's not forget about our good friend the fish. In many cases we want to return our trophy fish unharmed to fight another day. The slime coat on fish is their protection against disease and parasites. We should do everything possible to protect it. Rubberized nets are the gold standard for catch and release anglers because the smooth coating is less damaging to the slime coat as compared to rough nylon netting or cloth. The EGO S2 Slider Compact ($70) uses a PVC coating that is easy on the fish. It also boasts a floating handle that telescopes from 18 inches to a whopping 36 inches. Now that's a serious kayak fishing net!
Both nets mentioned previously have rubberized netting. A side benefit is that rubberized netting is less likely to entangle in your bait hooks. That means less time picking treble hooks out of the net and more time fishing.