I’ve seen many nets on the water, Instagram, and online that are lashed together with zip ties, string, and even duct tape. Some of these nets should have been retired 15 years ago. Fortunately, for about $20 you can replace your net bag and have it working and looking like new. As we detailed in a previous post, choosing the right net is key but maintaining your net is equally as important. This simple guide will walk you through the various steps required to replace the net bag on most standard nets (think Fishpond and Brodin).
Why Choose Rubber?
Landing nets are a valuable resource on the water. Not only do they help you land more fish, but they also help lessen the effects of catch & release fly fishing on the fish that we pursue. Many modern scientists and anglers alike believe that rubber net bags are less likely to damage the protective film on the skin of fish. For that reason, I recommend replacing any nylon nets that you may have with rubberized net bags. Many net manufacturers sell replacement bags sized/shaped specifically for their products.
Remove the Net
The first step in repairing your net is to remove your discolored, torn & tattered net bag. You can either cut the net bag or the backing that was used to lash it to the frame. Keep in mind, you will need to completely remove any of the string/backing left on the frame at some point.
Cleaning the Frame
Once you have removed your net bag, you will likely notice dirt, algae, and scum that has built up around the frame. Simply scrub your frame with a firm bristled plastic brush and warm soapy water to remove any buildup. Not only will this make your net look new, but it will also keep you from transporting unnecessary debris in your vehicle.
Choose Your Replacement
Manufacturers like Fishpond sell a variety of replacement net bags in different sizes and even different colors (clear and black) to fit their offerings. While not all manufacturers make replacement bags, you should be able to find a net bag that roughly fits your net frame. (Note: Ensure that the diameter of the replacement bag is at least as big as the size of the frame) Fishpond’s series of replacement net bags can be had for around ~$20 and come with everything you need for installation (net bag, backing, and needle).
Fishpond Nomad Replacement Net 15″ $18.95 (Hand, Emerger, Mid-Length, Guide Models)
Net Bag Replacement
Re-stringing and attaching the replacement net bag to your freshly cleaned frame is an easy process once you get going! There are only a handful of materials required to complete this process: net frame, replacement net bag, ~4ft backing/string, and a large needle or bobbin threader.
- To Start, attach your backing to any loop in the open end of the rubber net bag with an improved clinch knot.
- Thread the other end of your backing/needle through one of the holes nearest to the handle (either side will work).
- Next, pull your needle and remaining backing should through the first hole with your clinch knot pulled tight to the inside of the frame.
4. Now your needle and remaining backing should be on the outside of the frame. The next step is to thread the backing around the perimeter of your frame and through each of the remaining holes.
5. Next, with your needle and backing threaded through the inside of the following hole, wrap your needle around the next loop on the net bag. To finish lashing the loop to the frame, thread your need back through the same hole that it entered.
6. Repeat the above steps, threading the needle and backing through each hole around the frame of the net. Be sure to pull the backing and net bag loop tight to the frame as you work your way around.
7. Once you have attached each loop on the net bag to the corresponding hole on the frame, thread your needle back through the last hole (opposite of where you started). Your needle and backing should be on the outside of the frame again.
8. At this point, you have completely re-strung your net frame with a new net bag. You are now ready to tie off your backing. While you can tie several overhand knots in your backing and call it a day, the optional process outlined in Steps 9-11 leaves a much cleaner end result.
Optional Finishing Steps
9. Next, take your needle and thread it above and around the thread entering the second to last hole. We will use this point as the foundation of our uni knot.
10. Next, thread your needle under the doubled over backing created by looping around the second to last hole. Next, wrap your needle around the doubled over backing 3-5 times before completing a standard uni knot. Lastly, pull the needle and knot snug.
11. Finally, snip the remaining backing off once you have completed your uni knot. Applying a small amount of super glue to your knot will help ensure that it outlasts the rubber net basket.
If you would like further instruction or wish to view a detailed video on replacing a net bag, check out the video below!
In conclusion, time, extreme temperatures, UV rays, and brush all wreck havoc on landing net bags. A tattered net could cost you the fish of a lifetime. Consider purchasing a replacement net bag and following the simple steps above for installation. A little time and effort can go a long way to have your net looking and functioning like new.
Article by Evan Garda, he is on the Content Team here at Fly Lords. He can be found chasing trout throughout the west with his trusty fly rod. Check out his adventures at @evangarda.
Another thing you could do to mitigate the net being cut by the thread is to use rubber o-rings to “pinch” the net with the o-ring by threading the string through the o-ring that is “taco’d” around the part of the net normally reserved to be held by the thread. This will extend the life of the rubber net and will act as a shock absorber when you land a big/heavy fish.