Throwing a cast net is one of the skills that every saltwater angler should have. For catching bait or getting a meal of shrimp, the cast nest is invaluable on the water.
It’s also one of the most daunting prospects for the beginner. How do you take a pile of fine mesh netting, lead weights, and line and turn it into a beautiful, fanned circle? There’s definitely a trick to it.
There are many ways to throw the net and end with the same result. Some of these include draping part of it over the arm or shoulder. These methods are effective, but once the net is wet, so is the user.
If throwing in shallow waters, it’s likely that you’ll end up covered in mud and sand as well — and if there are stinging jellyfish around, you might get a nasty surprise.
Here we describe the method to throw a cast net while keeping the entire net in your hands, thus keeping you dry and clean.
The skin on your hands is a lot tougher than that on your arms, shoulders and back, and even if you accidentally touch a stinging jellyfish caught in the net, generally this only results in a tingly or itchy palm.
Before purchasing a cast net, remember to make sure that they’re legal to use in the waters you intend to fish. Some locations ban the use of cast nets — they’re just too effective!
Throwing the Net
The following describes the method for a right-handed person. Switch everything to opposite hand for a left-handed throw.
1. If you’ve just bought the net or haven’t used it in a while, grab the swivel end and hold it up, giving it a shake to make sure that all of the weights are free and that the net isn’t tangled.
2. Loop the end of the rope around the right wrist.
3. Slide your left hand down the rope about 60 centimeters, grab it, and lay it on the palm of the right hand. The free rope should hang between thumb and forefinger.
4. Continue to make loops on right hand until the net is reached.
5. Feed one loop of net over the right palm like the rope.
6. Encircle the hanging net with the left hand, and slide it down to take another loop of net over the right palm. Grip the bundle with your thumb and forefinger.
7. There should be about a meter of free-hanging net left.
8. Take the bottom of the net that’s facing forward, lift it and hang on the remaining three fingers of the right hand.
9. Now that the front of the net is “open,” there is a left side (closest to body) and right side (furthest from body).
10. Gather about half a meter of the right side of the net, fold it back to sit on top of the bundle in the right hand and re-grip.
11. Working near the right hand, gather about a third of the cast net in the left hand.
Now you’ve gathered the net and are ready to throw.
1. The throw works with a powerful, snappy swing.
2. Twist at the waist to bring the right shoulder back. The right arm is loaded, the left hand follows.
3. Keeping the arms low, swing through the waist and throw the net from the right hand in a right-to-left flick.
4. Have the left hand flick its handful of net from left to right, under the right arm.
If everything is right, the net will open up to its full circular extent and land on the water!
A great demonstration is available here thanks to Ryan Moody Fishing. Ryan is an experienced fishing guide operating in the fish-rich waters of Hinchinbrook Island, Queensland, Australia.
Ironing Out the Problems
The most common reason that a cast net doesn’t open up fully is that the user has lobbed the net over their shoulder rather than flicking it around in a sideways motion.
Remember to twist through the waist so that your arms swing around during the cast. If you’re having difficulty, bend a little at the knees. It’s a great way to focus the body on keeping low and swinging around.
What Type of Cast Net?
Shorter people and kids will find it easiest to throw a six- or seven-foot diameter net. Taller users are fine using bigger nets. A nine- or 10-foot net is big enough for most uses.
The most commonly used net is a drawstring net. These have an open top (the center of the net), and the hand rope is connected to a series of heavy monofilament lines that run through the open top of the net and attach to the weight line at the bottom of the net.
When the net is thrown, it fans out as usual, but once the hand rope is retrieved, the open top slides down the monofilament lines and ends up against the weight line. This turns the entire net into a large pocket that traps whatever is inside.
These nets can be used in any situation but are best suited for deep water or anywhere where they’re retrieved vertically.
The bottom-pocket net is closed at the top, and the weight line is periodically stitched to the inside of the net, off the bottom. This causes the net to form a series of pockets in the bulge between the net itself and the stitched-up weight line. Creatures get caught in these pockets as the net is retrieved.
Bottom-pocket nets are best used in shallow water and from shore, where they are retrieved horizontally. Remember to retrieve the net at a low angle so the net stays shut at the bottom, forcing the bait into the pockets.
Top-pocket nets are specifically designed to trap bait that flees into the center of the net as it sinks or when it’s retrieved — such as prawns or shrimp.
These nets have pockets on the bottom, like a bottom-pocket net, but also have an extra layer of netting at the top of the net. When bait flees toward the top of the net, it funnels into this extra pocket and is trapped there.