Anyone reading this or any other blog from our industry is in the same boat to some degree, we love to fly fish. Many take that amorous feeling and apply it to the sport in a variety of ways; tying exquisitely dressed flies sans vice, producing leaders to exact measurements for specific purposes using instruments from the engineering world I have no understanding of, throwing themselves headlong into conservation and at the extreme sacrificing job, family and friends to pursue fish on a fly ALL the time at any cost. This passion is THE reason I love this sport so much, anyone can take it as far as they like in any direction without limitation. Fly fishing is the proverbial rabbit hole!
On to my point, while guiding the other day, I “accidentally” left my old aluminum net with rubber basket leaning against my car when we left a particular beach on Puget Sound. Rather than throw the usual tantrum in my head of “how blonde can you be…”, I immediately called a good friend who exemplifies the afore mentioned passion, and works it into some of the finest fishing nets around, Robert Nelson at Fisknat.
When my net was ready, I asked if I could come down and pick the net up in person as I wanted to see how he does it, save the shipping cost and get a little insight into Fisknat. What is obvious is Bob does this because he loves to work the wood, use his hands and create a tool he is excited to have anglers use. Not an ego thing just pride in having done the best work possible. Bob still does this the old fashioned way. Selecting the wood in person and by hand, scribing out each section for each net with a pencil and then working them out with the bandsaw. Some hand sanding and then on to the construction, placing the frame and clamps on each net himself. Amazingly he manages to do this at a very relaxed pace and keeps a very low key and composed nature about him as he works, most of the time solo in his shop creating his next masterpiece. Why I asked him, “For the love of fish.”
I have had one of his large boat nets for nearly 10 years almost since the beginning of when he dropped everything in 2002 to do this full time, and I have received countless comments on its craftsmanship. Today, after 10 years of 200 days a year or more on the water, it is still in amazing shape which is a testament to not only its construction but also the meticulous attention to detail that Bob puts into each net.
Back when I received my first Fisknat, it was on the cutting edge of rubber netting for fish safety. That old rubber net weighs nearly 3 times as much as the new modern rubber does making the nets much easier to handle from the boat as well as lighter for carrying around on longer hike in trips. Since the net I lost was my saltwater net, I was hesitant about using a wood net for the saltwater but Bob assured me that with some care, this net would look as good as my other in 10 years as well, even if used only in the salt.
Reasons for the clear and rubber netting are simple, the rubber netting will not host anywhere near as many of the diseases going around freshwater fisheries around the country and secondly it makes for some fantastic photo opps. Rubber also maintains shape when submerged, not collapsing on or around the fish you have caught, allowing it to relax while removing the hook so that the fish, never actually has to leave the water if you don’t want it to. Rubber also allows for the fly or flies to not tangle as easily when netting a fish and finally it has virtually no abrasion on the fish so scale damage is minimal.
So if you are looking for a gift for someone who fishes, a thank you or graduation present, an upgrade or simply just stepping into the foyer of this rabbit hole called fly fishing, do yourself and the fish a favor and seek out one of these nets. Bob makes these in Tacoma, WA so you would also be supporting a business here, not just in the U.S. but regionally and that is important as we watch legendary businesses in our industry fall around us.
Thank you again Bob for the beautiful net, photos are coming soon and John Hoven who was with me when I left the old one, yes, subconsciously I may have disposed of the other intentionally, but come on, look at this thing, can you blame me??
Get your net here www.fisknat.com