Net Building 101 with The Montana Fishing Company:
The rivers are flooded, so I switch back into the net making game. Net making is one of the ways I choose to make it through Winter in Montana. Being a outfitter and guide in the state of Montana, I have to have a good net to land the clients fish. I have yet to find one that fit my needs. So I did what anyone else would do, I made my own. I made lots of mistakes along the way. I will share my secrets with you, the reader, on making your own fly fishing nets!
First, you need good quality wood that will stand the test of time. People cringe when I toss my hand made wooden net out of the boat into the back of the truck at the end of a long day of guiding. I know that the net will not break, because I designed it to be strong as steel! It will make it thought the long summer when exposed to the suns UV rays.
Ash, Walnut and Cherry are the types of wood I like to use. Cherry for the handle, Ash and Walnut for the the hoop. You must make a jig first. The Jig is to rap the strips of Ash and Walnut to make the hoop of the net. This is not easy. Everything has to be uniform so the net is uniform. Any imperfections in the jig will result in imperfections in the hoop. No one wants a funny looking wooden net.
Once you get your jig the way you want it, then you cut your strips of Ash and Walnut. Ash is what wooden bats are made of, so it’s pretty strong stuff. Walnut is for the look of the net. I cut the strips 1/8th to 1/16th of an inch thick. I use 8 strips of the 1/8th in thick strips, 4 Ash and 4 Walnut. When I use the 1/16th thick strips I double the number of strips. I then soak them in the bathtub over night to allow them to bend without splitting when warped around the jig. I then wrap the strips around the jig and let them dry for a day or so. I attach them to the jig with zip ties. I use the Cherry for the handle. I cut the pattern on the ban saw and then and shape it with a belt sander.
I then use wes systems epoxy to laminate the net together. Take extreme caution when using epoxy of any kind for it is a carcinogen. Use latex glove so you do not get any on your hands. I wrap the jig with duct tape so the strips do not fuse to the jig. Once every thing is epoxyed and zip tied together, I let the net dry for a day.
I then sand and sand some more. Before I put the last coat of epoxy on I make measurements in 1” increments. I drill holes and tap in brass for a measuring stick. This way you can measure your fish and you do not have to guess or lie about the length. That is why I call my nets the Stick Of Truth!!! Again use extreme caution and breathing protection so you do not inhale the dust. After the net has no imperfections I coat the entire net with epoxy and sand once more. I do this three times to get a good coat of epoxy on the net frame. This also makes the net strong as steel.
I then get a drill bit 1/16th in size and drill the holes in the net hoop. This is to attach the net bag. Now you must make your jig the size of the net bag so the net hoop fits the bag size of your choice. It took me a few time to figure this one out. lol… Attach the net bag to the net hoop with 50lb fly line backing. You can pick it up pretty cheep at any local fly shop.
If you follow this step by step process then you will have a net that will last a life time. More important you will have a net you can land a 31” walleye with and it will not break.
This should cost you no more that $50.00 when a net in a fly shop cost you $175.00. For more do it your self fly fishing projects e-mail Scott Anderson firstname.lastname@example.org and stop by our website MontanaFishingCompany.com