CAST NETS: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW
Using a cast net may seem tricky, but it’s one of the fastest and easiest ways to catch live bait.
In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about cast nets, including tips and tricks for throwing plus the best nets for bait fishing in Indian River County.
CAST NET BASICS
All cast nets follow the same basic setup with only a few variations: length, mesh size, and weight.
The net length is the distance between the horn and the lead line. This measurement is the radius of the net, so the net will be twice as wide when it opens up. For instance, a 6ft cast net will unfold into a circle that’s 12ft across.
Smaller nets are easier to throw, but you’ll catch less bait with each throw.
Larger nets are more challenging to throw, but the effort is rewarded with far more bait per throw.
The smallest nets, around 4ft long, are great for children who are learning to throw cast nets. Most recreational anglers stick to medium lengths between 6ft to 8ft, but you can use nets up to 14ft long in Florida.
The net’s mesh size can be measured in two ways.
The most common way is from knot to knot, along one side of the mesh square. This is marked as “SQ.”
Less commonly, you’ll see the stretched mesh measurement, which is the distance from end to end of the diamond shapes seen in the mesh. This will be marked as “STR,” and it comes out to double the SQ measurement.
When we refer to mesh size in this post, we’ll be talking about square measurements.
Most mesh sizes are between ⅜ of an inch to 1 inch.
Mesh that’s too large can gill your bait (a major headache, at best) or let them escape entirely.
A smaller mesh will catch big bait – at a cost. Fish that are too large for the mesh size can damage your net, and you can wind up with a lot of bycatch.
The mesh size you should use depends on the average size of the bait you want to catch. Use this table as a guide:
Net weight is typically measured in pounds per foot, so a 6ft long, 1lb/ft net weighs roughly 6 pounds. The advertised weight refers only to the lead weights along the lead line, so your net will weigh a bit more than what the package states.
The weight of your net determines how fast it sinks.
Faster is better. The slower the net sinks, the more it closes into a bell shape before touching the bottom. In an ideal situation, your net will sink to the bottom quickly and remain as open as possible to capture the most bait.
But there are a couple of things to consider before adding a ton of extra weights to your net.
A heavy net is more difficult to throw than a lighter alternative, and a lighter net is all you need for shallow water. Weights become more important as the water depth increases.
The perfect net will have between 1 to 1.5 pounds of weight per foot of net length.
TIPS & TRICKS
Sadly, you can’t learn how to throw a cast net by reading, and that’s why we haven’t included a tutorial. There are several ways to throw a cast net and tons of how-to videos on YouTube.
But before you start practicing, here are a few tips we always follow:
- Use a slip knot for your hand loop
A slip knot will gradually tighten as more tension is applied, and using one for your hand loop will lower your chances of losing the net in the water.
- Try your best to open the net in a full circle
It’s a challenge at first, but it gets easier the more you practice. When your net is fully open, you are maximizing your catch so you can start using your bait sooner.
- Pull the net up ASAP once it hits the bottom
There’s no time to waste! As soon as you feel the tension release on your hand line, start pulling it up to close the net and prevent your bait from escaping.
- Coil the hand line as you pull the net up
Save time by coiling the net in roughly 1ft loops as you pull it up. Once you get the bait in the container, you’ll be ready to throw it again.
- Keep a container nearby for your bait
Whether you intend to keep your bait live or freeze it for future use, make sure you have a container nearby to quickly store your catch. Fill it with the appropriate water for your bait fish to keep them alive longer.
If you’re having trouble, come see us. You can watch every cast net video on YouTube and still encounter problems without feedback. We’re happy to provide personalized advice to get you throwing like a pro in no time.
BEST CAST NETS FOR INDIAN RIVER COUNTY
As you’ve probably figured out, water depth and bait size are the two most important things to consider when choosing your cast net.
The waters of Indian River County are shallow, whether you’re trying to catch bait in the Indian River Lagoon, at the beach, or in freshwater lakes.
Dozens of bait fish species call this area home, and they’re all on the smaller side. Most of them are between 2 to 6 inches long.
Based on these factors, we recommend a 6ft to 8ft long cast net with ¼ or ⅜ inch mesh and 1 to 1.5lbs of weight per foot. A net within this range is a great all-purpose tool for most bait fishing.
Stop by the Vero Tackle shop to pick up your net today! All our Lee Fisher cast nets were hand-picked for fishing the local waters, and we carry a range of sizes and weights to suit any experience level.
Author: Lauren Hamers