We’ve all been there. You stick a good fish, steer it clear of obstacles, bring it boatside and muscle it into the net, only to find it thrashing and gnashing and rolling itself into a knotted net burrito. A noble wild creature is now stuck deep in your net, and suddenly you’re moonlighting as a riparian surgeon.
Don’t moonlight as a riparian surgeon.
If catch and release is the goal, it makes sense to choose a net that makes the act of capture and return as fluid and easy on the fish as possible. A good net is the best way to do this. A great net actually makes it fun.
The fishpond Nomad boat net is just such a tool.
This net hits all the sweet spots. It’s light enough in the hand to function as an extension of your arm if you’re one-handing things, but has a long enough handle for a two-handed, over-the-gunwhale lift for larger specimens. That long handle also means a more efficient capture whether you’re in a driftboat, canoe, raft or SUP. Put simply, this net has range.
There’s a lot to like about the webbing as well. The thickness of the material functions as a buffer from the cruel, dry world—in other words, the fish is always going to be protected from coming into contact with any dry substance that could damage its mucous membrane. It also holds its shape if you want to use the net as an underwater holding space while readying your camera. Mesh nets tend to collapse in these types of situations, but the Nomad webbing functions more like a shallow bowl. And the shape of that bowl—the throat bottoms out rather than tapering to a point—means that larger fish are not going to find themselves sharply bent, which might put unnatural and unnecessary stress on their spines.
I've put everything from brown trout to white bass to smallmouth to pike into this net. Fishing barbless, more often than not the hook simply popped out once the line went slack. That meant all I had to do to release my fish was unscoop it back into the water. This is the net that, given their druthers, the fish you pursue would have you use.
The net’s only demerit would have to be its price. At over $239 dollars, the Fishpond Nomad boat net is not cheap, but if treated properly it should provide a lifetime of use—just replace the netting every few years.
Like anything from fishpond, it’s made from recycled materials (which should appeal to your sense of environmental responsibility), looks really damn good (which should appeal to your sense of vanity) and is made in America. Final verdict? It’s a keeper.