Do you carry a net when you fly fish? I never used to as I love the challenge of grabbing fish at the bank, plus I found carrying a net a bit cumbersome. If there is one thing I learned from not carrying a net for most of my 30 years in fly fishing, it’s that I should have.
After hours on the river and many late-night conversations with the team, we all agree the best fly fishing net is the FishPond Nomad Emerger. It has a robust long handle, the netting is good for the fish and it’s built to take a beating.
Over the past decade, I’ve worn through many nets, thanks in large part to my job as a fly fishing writer. Some of these fishing nets have been sent by companies to test but the majority were purchased by myself.
Here are our unbias and honest recommendations for the top fly fishing nets in each category:
|FishPond Nomad Emerger Net
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|Freestone Rubber Mesh Net
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|FishPond Nomad Native
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|PLUSINNO Fly Fishing Net
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|FishPond Nomad Mid-Length Net – Tailwater
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Detailed Fly Fishing Net Reviews
We’ve taken time on the river with each of these nets. To please read on and choose the best net for you.
FishPond Nomad Emerger Net
Best Of The Best
- Material: Carbon Fiber & Fiberglass composite, Rubber net
- Length: 32 inches
- Head: 9.8W x 18.8L inches
- Weight: 0.95 lbs
- Lightweight, durable, and easy to carry
- Clear rubber net fish can’t see
- An excellent grip that doesn’t slip
- Waterproof/weatherproof & buoyant
- UV protected so they last
- Quite large and can get in the way
- Comes with an expensive price tag
FishPond Nomad Emerger fly fishing nets are built from a carbon fiber and fiberglass frame. This not only makes these fly fishing nets durable but they’re also floating, waterproof, and are super light weighing in at just under 1lb, so fly fishermen will barely notice them hanging on their backs.
With a handle length of 12 inches and a total length of 32 inches, this fly fishing landing is an ideal length to land fish like trout with.
The fly fishing net features a larger rubber net bag with small holes that will handle both small and large rainbow and brown trout with ease. The net bag is also clear so as not to spook any trophy trout when landing them.
The only thing to be wary of with this fly fishing net is the mid-length size. Some fly anglers find it catches when walking through areas with thick bush, and you may find yourself untangling your net more often than you’d like.
But, in all honesty, you shouldn’t experience this issue very often, especially if you’re wading in the river.
Freestone Rubber Mesh Net
- Material: Hardwood and clear rubber mesh
- Length: 25 inches
- Head: 16.75 x 10.75 inches
- Weight: 0.85 lbs
- Quite affordable price for the quality
- Comes with a free magnetic release
- Good size for small fish
- Clear netting fish don’t see
- A little small for bigger fish
- No grip on the handle
- Doesn’t float
If you’re an angler looking for a fly fishing net with a small price tag, then you can’t go wrong with the Freestone Rubber Mesh Net.
Made with a hardwood frame, this fly fishing landing net looks the part. It’s tough and long-lasting but not that buoyant, so be sure not to drop it if it’s not connected to the free magnetic release that comes with it.
The basket is a clear rubber mesh so fish don’t see it and is made from quality nylon materials. The holes are small, making it ideal for the catch and release of smaller species like brook trout.
The soft rubber bag measures 16.75 inches wide by 10.75 inches deep, so it’s not ideal for big fish, and trying to land a 20-inch brown trout in it might be a challenge.
With a total length of just 25 inches and being quite lightweight, this landing net sits comfortably on an fly anglers back and doesn’t get tangled up in any thick bush around the river.
FishPond Nomad Native
Best For Portability
- Material: Carbon fiber and fiberglass
- Length: 25.5 inches
- Head: 8.5 x 17 inch.
- Weight: 0.63lbs
- Super tough build that lasts
- Waterproof and it floats
- A very grippy handle so you always land a fish
- Small, compact, and easy to travel with
- A little small for big fish
- The short handle makes landing fish a bit tricky
- High price tag
For traveling anglers, the FishPond Nomad Series Native landing net is ideal. It’s short, lightweight, and compact making it easy to slot into your check-in luggage for those flights to new fly fishing grounds.
It’s an awesome trout net that features a clear nylon mesh with small holes that fish species can’t see. This makes landing them a lot more efficient and the net comes with a super-grippy handle that will never slip even when it’s a bit wet.
The frame is built from fiberglass and carbon fiber, but it looks just like wood with a classy finish. It’s ideal for wade fishing with, as if you drop it, it’ll float and there is a hoop on the handle to sure it with a magnetic release.
Being small and compact for portability, it’s not that deep or wide a net. It’ll happily handle average trout from a river but if you’re trout fishing for monsters, landing them with this trout net might be a challenge.
PLUSINNO Fly Fishing Net
Best On A Budget
- Material: Wood & rubber mesh netting
- Length: 23.6 inch
- Head: 14.56 x 5.9 inches
- Weight: 7.4 ounces
- Light, compact and portable
- Affordable price and good quality
- Floats in case your drop it
- Comes with a free magnetic release
- Good size for medium-sized fish
- Small trout can slip through the large holes
Another one of the best budget landing nets you can find is the Plusinno landing nets. For around $30 you get a great quality landing net that is both light and durable, plus the wood finish means any fly fisherman will look the part wading with this fishing net on their back.
These fly fishing nets come with a grippy handle, a hoop for adding the free magnetic release to, and a good size head that’ll fit most small species inside. The nets float too, so if you drop it, you’ll have a chance to get it back.
The netting is made from quality rubber and nylon materials and is a clear mesh. The holes in the mesh are designed for easy hook removal but they are a tad large and any tiny trout are likely to fall through it, causing a bit of a tangle.
Overall it’s a solid net for medium-sized fish and the quality is surprisingly great for a net that is so affordable. If you’re on a tight budget or looking to buy a young fly fisherman their first-ever landing net, this one is a solid choice.
FishPond Nomad Mid-Length Net – Tailwater
- Material: Carbon Fiber & Fiberglass composite
- Length: 37 inches
- Head: 13 x 18 inches
- Weight: 0.88 lbs
- Long handle for landing fish at a distances
- Great for use on a boat
- Large net for bigger fish
- Durable build and light to carry
- Grippy so it never slips
- It floats in case you drop it
- Quite expensive
Next up is another one of FishPonds Nomad Nets called the Tailwater. This is a long-handled fly fishing landing net that is ideal for guides to carry or for use when catch and release fly fishing from a boat but it might be a tad long for wading with.
The frame of the landing net is built to last and features both fiberglass and carbon fiber materials. It’s waterproof so it won’t swell and it floats, so you can always retrieve it if it goes overboard.
The handle is covered is textured for excellent grip, there is a hoop at the end so you can hook it to a safety cord, and the opening is a great size for when you catch larger trout of the 20-inch variety.
The netting on this net is a clear rubber mesh that fish can’t see, and it’s made to cause minimal harm to fish, so you can release them without any harm. The holes in the net are also small, so no matter what size fish you catch, it won’t slip through the net and cause a big tangle.
The only major drawback to this fly fishing landing net is the price. It’s an expensive net, but it should last a lifetime so it’s a one-time investment.
Fly Fishing Net Buyers Guide
These nets  actually come in a vast array of styles, some of which offer more than simply retrieving your fish. The most common types are:
These nets have a frame folding in on itself, which means it can be packed flat, allowing you to slip it into a bag. You can also attach it to your fishing vest and easily bring it to the water when you hook a fish.
Scoop nets are usually attached to a rector with a magnetic release, which keeps the net in place. They are generally ideal for grayling and river trout. In addition, most scoop nets are built around a wooden frame.
Fixed Frames and Handle
Fixed frames and handle nets are mostly used for catching and landing large fish when fly fishing. Longer handle nets are used from watercraft, where they can be left on the side in readiness to go to the bottom of the boat once the fishers hook their fish.
Whether you are new to fly fishing or are a seasoned angler, having the best net can be the difference between creating a lifetime memory or having your day ruined for losing the fish of a lifetime. But it can take a lot of time to search for the right one. Here are a few factors to consider when shopping:
The net can be collapsible, fixed frame, or a scoop net. In collapsible fly fishing nets, the frame folds in on itself. These nets are usually clipped to the waist or back, and a simple flick will get them into a usable position. The other type a the fixed frame and handle net. These nets are best for boat fly fishers for landing those tricky fish. The final type of fly fishnet is the scoop net.
The material of your trout net greatly influences the durability factor. Most common materials used to make nets include rubber, nylon, and thanks to modern technology, carbon fiber & fiberglass.
Rubber nets are the most popular and the best option for most anglers. They are durable, some are difficult to spot in the water, pocket-friendly, not to mention slick, which means they are gentler on the fishes’ slime coating. The nylon mesh of the rubber nets is much cheaper, but you risk splitting the fish’s tail fins.
Carbon fiber nets and fiberglass nets rank high due to how durable and lightweight these nets are. They are, however, quite costly.
The right handle length will depend on several things, including water environment, trout’s size and weight, and where you are fly fishing from. For instance, when it comes to fly fishing from a boat, longer handles are the way to go as they allow you to reach the water without having to lean so far over that you can fall.
Nets with a shorter handle are perfect for fly fishing on the river shore. In addition, longer handles are best with big fish, while the medium-sized handles are perfect when fly fishing for different trout sizes.
Cost is a huge determinant when making any purchase, including fly fishing nets. If you are wondering how much a good net  costs, then let’s begin by saying cost, just like the definition of good, is subjective. The cost of a trout fly net depends on quality, brand, not to mention, the additional fly fishing tools it comes with. Go for a net that’s really good value for money.
While most fly fishermen choose substance, quality, and functionality over style, fly fishing often involves photography, which means aesthetics is of much importance. An aesthetically pleasing net won’t catch more or bigger fish, but will surely look perfect in your pictures.
Most river trout range from about 12-16 inches, which means a relatively small net can manage the job. Sometimes you may hook a big fish on the fly, in which case you’ll require a bigger net. However, I’d recommend medium-sized nets as they’re the most versatile.
Tips For Netting a Fish
Having the right fly net doesn’t guarantee the survival of the fish every time. Besides being injured, the fish could still die from distress if handled inappropriately. As a result, it’s important to master the catch and release fishing tips & techniques for fly fishing so as to increase the survival chance of the fish. These techniques  can also enhance your game:
- Try netting the fish near or on the surface of the river.
- You are most likely to land fish if you net head-first rather than tail-first (fish can’t swim backwards)
- Avoid chasing the fish, instead, bring the fish to you.
- When making your final move to land the fish, avoid lifting the fish, instead, slide them in for a landing.
Why You Need a Net!
Fly fishing is about catch and release. You need a good net to land and handle trout with minimal impact, allowing them to get back into the river with no injuries and with enough energy to survive. A fishing landing net reduces handling during hook removal, and that allows the fish to stay in the water throughout the entire time.
Secondly, you don’t want to miss that perfect lifetime memory of landing a monster fish, simply because you didn’t bring your fly fishing net. It has happened to me many times when fly fishing. The only other way to secure a fish is to wear it out or get it close enough to grab the tail. This doesn’t work as often as you’d hope, as many fly anglers soon learn!
A lot of fly fishers, especially newbies, don’t know safe catch-and-release techniques. These types of fly fishing nets naturally allow you to use them properly, letting you catch the fish without injuring them.
So which net is the best from the review? I’d go with the FishPond Nomad Emerger every time. The net is super durable, grippy, isn’t too big or too small, can handle both large and small fish, plus it’s a light net that you’ll barely notice hanging off your back when wading down a river.
Thanks for reading my article about the best fly fishing nets, I hope you enjoyed it and managed to find the right net for you. Carrying a net really is key to both landing those big trophy fish and protecting the fish from your warm hands so they can be released as healthy as possible and live to fight another day.