There are numerous pieces of equipment that have proven to be useful to anglers throughout the years. Products ranging from hook removers to landing nets have helped fishermen on the water during tournaments and weekend trips. While many species of fish can be easily brought into the boat by hand, tournament anglers with big fish on the line, or anglers who seek out toothy or large species will tell you that a good net is an invaluable asset. However, as with many fishing products, shopping for a landing net can be overwhelming at first. Not to worry, as today I’ll provide you with a breakdown of landing nets that will allow you to spend less time in the net aisle and more time picking out lures.

As with most tackle, when deciding on a net, you’ll first need to figure out what species you fish for most often. Obviously, a crappie fisherman won’t need a large pike net, and pike would laugh at an angler trying to land them with a trout net, so species is an important factor in determining the hoop size of your landing net. Most nets designed for smaller fish will have a small hoop size, with mesh net material, to prevent small fish from slipping through the net. Nets designed for large species, like salmon, will have wide hoops and durable net material to withstand the thrashing and weight of the fish.

Handle length is an important factor in choosing a net, as well. If you fish from a boat, dock, or jetty, or if you like to net your fish as soon as possible, then a net with a long, or extendable, handle is a good idea. Fly fishermen, shore fishermen, or anglers who prefer to net the fish right at the boat, will a find that a net with a shorter handle will suffice.

Other things to consider when choosing a net include the health of the fish you catch. More recently, companies have started outfitting their nets with rubber material, instead of nylon mesh. While the nylon is durable and resistant to hooks, the rubber mesh is less harsh on the fish and doesn’t remove the protective layer of “slime” that coats them. Also, storage is an important factor, as you want to make sure you’ll have ample room to store the net, especially if you purchase a large one.

Along with the standard net design, there are a few products that implement creative features to make storage and use easier on the user. While some fall a little short, there are a few that do a great job of combining key characteristics to create great products. Keep the factors I’ve outlined above in mind the next time you head out and you won’t be spending all your time looking through the nets. After all, the only thing better than spending time shopping for tackle is the time you get to use it on the water.