We’ve all been there. After hours of patiently scouting and casting, and a lengthy battle, you’ve finally got that trophy fish lined up next to your boat. Getting it on board should be easy. But as you reach into the water to grab it – it suddenly trashes and wriggles its way free from your hook – and out of your grasp forever!
The worst part of this tragic tale: it could easily have been prevented. A good fishing landing net significantly reduces the odds of squirrely fish squirming loose and allows you to handle them without putting your fingers or their slime coat at risk.
If you’re mostly a catch-and-release angler, then a good landing net is a must. Many nets feature coated mesh, which is non-abrasive and won’t harm the fish as you scoop it up. If you’re fishing for dinner, a landing net will ensure you won’t lose any good eaters.
Below I’ll break down some of the best fishing nets for landing all types of species as well as for different fishing styles.
Quick Answer: 7 Best Fishing Landing Nets
- Best Overall: EGO S2 Slider Fishing Net 29 – 60”
- Best Catch and Release Net: Frabill Conservation Series Landing Net
- Budget Pick: Wakeman Collapsible and Foldable Net 56”
- Best Kayak Fishing Net: YakAttack Leverage Landing Net
- Best Fly Fishing/Trout Net: FishPond Nomad Emerger Net
- Best Pier Fishing Net: Frabill Bridge/Pier Net
- Best Long Handle/Pontoon Fishing Net: EGO S2 Slider Net 48 – 108”
Landing Net Types
Fish landing nets vary widely in terms of length, hoop size, mesh and handle materials, and netting design. They’re typically tailored for a specific fish species, as well as for a particular fishing style.
Nets designed for catch-and-release fishing will typically feature rubber netting or a rubber coating over the mesh – ensuring the fish won’t suffer any scrapes or abrasions from the net material. Nets made for keepers are often made from knotless nylon mesh – preventing treble hooks (and the fish) from getting tangled up in the netting.
When picking out a fishing net, you’ll need to ask yourself two questions:
1) Where do you typically fish from?
The right type of net will depend on your fishing style and watercraft. If you’re fishing from a kayak or canoe – where you’re closer to the water – then a shorter/lighter net will work well. On the other hand, if you’re fishing from a pontoon or small fishing boat you’ll need a net with a longer or telescopic handle to reach the water.
Wade and fly fishermen need a light and compact net that can easily clip onto their vest or waders – but is capable of handling fish in strong current. A floating handle is a major plus here.
2) What species are you normally targeting?
It’s important to match your landing net to the species you’re fishing for. Different fish species require slightly different net designs as well as netting dimensions. Net manufacturers often make the same net in multiple sizes, so you can easily find the right size for panfish, bass, walleye, pike, salmon and more.
Certain fish tend to be pretty finicky and will squirm their way out of a shallower net if you’re not careful. Trout, in particular, tend to be highly sensitive and can go ballistic when they feel the mesh of your netting. Nets designed for these fish often feature deeper pockets as well as softer webbing that makes scooping up the fish easier.
Best Overall: EGO S2 Slider Fishing Net 29 – 60”
If you’re looking for the one net that blows all others clean out of the water, then this is the net for you. While it costs a bit more than other landing nets, it’s rock-solid construction and feature-rich design more than the justify the extra cost.
The 29” model features a telescopic handle that extends out from 29-inches out to 60-inches when fully extended. The S2 utilizes a convenient push-button for extending and retracting the handle, giving you real-time control over the handle length, and ensuring you won’t have to drop your rod. It’s the perfect size for boat and shore fishing, allowing you to reach down and net fish without getting yourself soaked.
As far as the netting material, several different mesh types are available as options, depending on your intended use. Clear rubber, nylon, PVC coated nylon, rubber-coated nylon, lightweight clear nylon, and a PVC Coated measuring net are all on offer. A deep net option is also available.
Additionally, the net features a modular attachment system, which means you can swap out the net and use the handle for over 30 attachments including gaff hooks, other net types, boat hooks, deck mops, release knives and more. The net also floats in case you happen to drop it in the water!
- Length: Extends from 29” to 60”
- Hoop size: 17”, 19”, 22” and 24”
- Netting Material: Clear rubber, nylon, PVC coated nylon, rubber-coated nylon, lightweight clear nylon, and PVC Coated measuring net
- Can handle fish up to 30 lbs
- Easy-to-operate push-button telescopic handle
- Modular platform allows for interchangeable head attachments
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Best Catch and Release Net: Frabill Conservation Series Landing Net
This well-made landing net from the fishing pros at Frabill is about as good as it gets when it comes to catch-and-release fishing. Designed to handle a wide variety of fish including bass, walleye, trout, and redfish – the 100% knotless tangle-free micromesh netting completely eliminates injuries from sharp knots. It also stops hooks from getting tangled in the netting, and won’t harm the fish’s slime coat.
The flat linear bottom supports the fish’s weight and reduces the likelihood of a fish rolling and thrashing. A sturdy 1” thick extendable aluminum handle allows you to adjust the length from 24” to 48”, while a comfortable rubber grip on the end provides a sure hold. The net is perfectly sized for fishing from a bass boat, but maybe a little bulky for kayak fishing.
The Cam-Lok handle extension mechanism is another strong point. It’s ultra-smooth, and has no wiggle or give in it at all. The hoop measures 20” x 23”, making it large enough to handle most freshwater fish as well as smaller saltwater species.
- Length: Extends from 24” to 48”
- Hoop size: 20” x 23”
- Netting Material: Micromesh
- Knotless micromesh net is ideal for catch-and-release
- Netting design prevents hooks from getting tangled
- Safe for saltwater use
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Budget Pick: Wakeman Collapsible and Foldable Net 56”
Rugged, lightweight, and well-engineered, this aluminum handled net and rubber net is an excellent do-it-all fish landing net – especially at this price point. Its tangle-free rubber netting is ideal for catch-and-release fishing, virtually eliminating tangles while being gentle on the fish. The 20-inch wide net opening makes it great for hauling in a large variety of fish species, as well as other critters like clams, crayfish, and crab.
The aluminum handle extends from 35-inches when retracted up to 56” when fully extended. This length is perfect for a typical bass boat but also works well for larger kayaks and canoes.
One of the net’s strong points is its soft and durable rubber mesh. The rubber prevents treble hooks from getting tangled, as well as softly cradling the fish when you’re lifting it out of the water. The netting bottom is flat and fairly deep at 17-inches, which helps when you’re dealing with larger fish – especially ones that would get spooked by a smaller net.
- Length: Extends from 35” to 56”
- Hoop size: 20”
- Netting Material: Rubber
- Rugged and lightweight aluminum construction
- Wide and deep net opening will handle a wide variety of fish
Best Kayak Fishing Net: YakAttack Leverage Landing Net
When it comes to kayak fishing gear, you can’t go wrong with YakAttack – they make some of the best kayak angling equipment on the market and this net is no exception. It’s purposefully designed with the kayaker in mind, utilizing a hinged design that allows the handle to fold alongside the net for compact storage. The handle is built to be stored in either a tube or a flush-mounted rod holder.
The forearm grip increases your stability and leverage as you’re netting a fish, allowing you to handle large fish with the same effort as much smaller specimens. Full rubber netting protects the fish and also prevents snags – making getting fish out of the water and into your kayak a breeze.
The hoop measures 12” x 20”, which may seem small, but the leverage and forearm grip give you increased accuracy – and make netting large fish easy. On top of that, YakAttack manufacturers in the USA and back up their products with a lifetime warranty. Rest assured you’re getting a product the manufacturer stands behind!
- Length: 56” when extended
- Hoop size: 12” x 20”
- Netting Material: Rubber
- Compact design is ideal for kayak and canoe fishing
- High leverage handle and forearm grip increase power and accuracy
- Hinged handle folds up for compact storage and transport
Best Fly Fishing/Trout Net: FishPond Nomad Emerger Net
When it comes to fly fishing landing nets, you’ll generally get what you pay for. You might think a net is just a net – how much of a difference does a high-end net make? Well, the answer might surprise you.
Fishpond’s Nomad Emerger net is a huge improvement over those cheap wood-framed nets you often see fly fishermen use. Weighing just a hair under 1 pound, its carbon fiber and fiberglass composite construction result in a feather-light and ultra-durable frame that can handle just about anything you can throw at it.
The RiverKoat finish provides UV protection and incredible grip when wet, while the clear rubber netting won’t spook fish as you net them. The hoop measures 10” x 19”, making it big enough to handle nearly anything with the possible exception of giant steelhead. With a 32” overall length, it’s the perfect size to hang off the back of a vest or tuck behind a fishing sling or pack.
The clear rubber netting features a uniform and tight hole spacing, ensuring smaller fish can’t sneak their way out of the 12” deep bag. If you happen to drop the net in the water – no worries – it floats like a cork!
- Length: 32”
- Hoop size: 10” x 19”
- Netting Material: Rubber
- Feather-light and durable composite carbon fiber/fiberglass
- Highly Buoyant
- Perfect for wading and fly fishing
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Best Pier Fishing Net: Frabill Bridge/Pier Net
If you’re fishing from an elevated position like a bridge, pier, or canal, then regular landing nets won’t be of much use to you. You’ll need a net that can extend far below you, and is strong enough to haul up fish that are too big and heavy for your line to handle.
The net is made from a 36” wide heavy-duty steel hoop with a 36” deep black ply netting attached. It comes pre-rigged with 50 feet of sturdy rope – allowing you to easily access the water from an elevated position.
The net is on the larger side and is capable of hauling some serious weight. One user reported pulling up an 80 to 90 pound ray up to a pier!
One minor modification you can make to enhance the net’s functionality is to attach a small sinker to the bottom of the net. This will help keep the net in an upright position and keep the netting open.
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- Hoop size: 36” diameter
- Netting Material: 1 ½” ply mesh
- Ideal for fishing from piers, bridges, and canals
- Heavy-duty steel hoop and strong mesh netting
- 50-foot rope comes rigged
Best Long Handle/Pontoon Fishing Net: EGO S2 Slider Net 48 – 108”
If you fish from a pontoon boat or a boat with tall gunwales, you’ll need a little extra reach to get down to the water and net a fish. With a 108” maximum reach, the EGO S2 is the perfect solution for this situation. It’s essentially the same design as the medium length S2 reviewed above, but with an extra 4 feet of reach.
Like its smaller cousin, this net comes with a wide variety of net materials as well as three different hoop sizes (17”, 19” and 22”). The sliding handle allows you to rapidly adjust the length by depressing the push button, making rapid deployment a breeze.
The load capacity changes as you extend the handle. Its 30 lbs. when retracted, 20 lbs. when partially extended, and 12 lbs. when fully extended. Twisting the net attachment point unscrews it from the handle – and allows you to add attachments and transform the net into a gaff, deck mop, line cutter, and 30+ other attachments.
- Length: Extends from 48” to 108”
- Hoop size: 17”, 19” or 22”
- Netting Material: Clear rubber, PVC coated mesh, rubber mesh, deep rubber mesh, and PVC Coated mesh
- The ideal length for pontoon and other larger boats
- Comes in a wide variety of net materials and hoop sizes
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How to pick the right fish landing net
Picking the right fishing net for your needs can be a little tricky. With so many sizes, models, netting types, and construction materials, you’ll need to consider a few things when choosing a net.
A net’s handle is one of the most aspects to consider when picking one out. Your fishing style will largely determine what type of handle to choose.
Long-handled nets are ideal for fishing from larger boats and slightly elevated positions, where you’ll need extra reach to get to the water. Think pontoon boats, fishing boats with higher gunwales, and shore fishing where you’re in an elevated position.
Medium length handles are ideal for bass boats, canoes, and larger kayaks. This size allows you to net fish near the side of your craft, without taking up to much space in your boat. Nets with extendable or collapsing handles work particularly well for smaller craft where space is at a premium.
Short handled nets are great for shore fishing, wading, and fly fishing. When you’re carrying the net on your person, you’ll want one that’s short, light and easy to carry. You’ll also want one that’s easy to deploy and easily attaches to your vest or fishing pack.
Other features to look for in a handle are flotation, corrosion resistance, and modular attachments.
A net’s mesh is another important feature to consider. Different netting materials work best for different species and fishing styles.
Rubber mesh is one of the most popular netting materials and works well for a variety of scenarios – especially for catch-and-release fishing. Rubber is very gentle on fish’s slime coats and prevents hooks from getting entangled in the netting. It’s also highly durable and won’t get caught up or ensnared like knotted nets sometimes can.
Rubber landing nets can either be 100 percent rubber or rubberized coated nylon. Both work well, but pure rubber tends to be a bit more durable than coated nets.
Nylon mesh used to be the standard for most fishing nets, but with the popularity of rubber nets, it’s fallen out of favor to a large extent. Knotless nylon can still work well when you’re fishing for keepers, but it’s a poor choice for catch-and-release fishing.
A mesh’s size plays an important role in its function. As you can imagine, smaller fish require a smaller mesh size than larger ones. The last thing you want is a small trout wiggling out of your net because the netting is too large!
Netting depth is another important consideration when choosing a landing net. Deep landing nets are ideal for larger fish, as well as fish that tend to flop around while you’re netting them.
The species you’re targeting will generally dictate what sized hoop you’ll need. The hoop’s width will need to be wide enough to accommodate the length of your target fish.
Some common hoop sizes are 17”, 20” and 23”. Generally, going with a larger net width will allow you to net fish with greater speed and accuracy, and will result in less lost fish.
As mentioned previously, the type of fish you’re going after has a major impact on the type of net you’ll need.
If you’re fishing in saltwater, you’ll want to make sure that the net is saltwater safe, and won’t corrode away. Make sure to bring a good fishing gaff as well if you’re targeting larger species.
If you’re catch-and-release fishing, make sure to go with a rubber or coated net that won’t harm the fish as your handling it.
Collapsible landing nets are a good option for many anglers, as they give you the versatility to change handle lengths as the situation dictates. They’re also great for fishing from smaller watercraft, where you need to conserve space as much as possible.
While landing nets are great for getting fish in your boat, there are several other tools you can use with good effect. A good fish lip gripper can work well for this task – and also works great for taking photos with your catch. Once you’ve got the fish landed, a fish hook remover enables you to extract deeply embedded hooks without getting your hands cut up.