Caring for your net is an important part of extending its useful life, very important when you consider the cost of a new quality net. Properly repairing your net is also important as it not only extends the life of the net but also ensures the net still works effectively even after damage has occurred. Tears and holes are pretty much guaranteed over the life of any net, even those not used around oysters, barnacles, etc. Anyone who has had the misfortune of landing their net on a 3 foot gar knows just how fast a net can be torn. Other than nets that were a total loss after landing on an oyster bed or submerged, barnacle encrusted piling, the worse damage I have ever had was when I caught a 3 1/2ft Blacktip shark in my net. Luckily he tore through the net, but that was a bit to exciting and left me with alot of repairs on my net.
Keep the net out of
the sun- The most important thing you can do for your net is to keep it out
of the sunlight, especially direct sunlight.- The sun's rays are harmful to the
monofilament the net is made of and make the mesh brittle and weaken it.
Obviously you are going to have the net in the sun when in use, but when not in
use keep the net out of the sun. I use 5 gallon buckets to store mine.
Incidentally, most petroleum products like gas, grease and diesel will also
damage the net.
Keep the net clean and free of salt deposits- The saltwater drying on the net will leave salt deposits, especially in the knots, that can be abrasive and weaken the knots. Make sure you thoroughly rinse the net with freshwater and allow it to dry. I do this on a tall rack I made to accommodate nets up to 16ft tall, but any high limb or hook will do. Just loop a double piece of the handline around the net below the horn and tie a half-hitch. This will hold the mesh up and leave a loop to hang the net by. Make sure you leave the leadline resting on the ground so the weight is not on the mesh. You do not want to hang the net with the leadline off the ground as it will tighten the knots and make the net harder to use. Let the net dry and store.
Soak in fabric softener- After you buy a new net, or when your old net begins to feel stiff, it is a good idea to soak the net in a mixture of liquid fabric softener and water. I do mine a couple of times a year. Mix a couple of caps of liquid fabric softener (the cheap stuff is fine) with enough water to submerge the net. I go ahead and put my handline in the water as well, but some people don't like that as it can make the handline a bit slippery at first. Soak the net for a minimum of a few hours, but I like to do mine overnight. After soaking, hang the net up and rinse thoroughly. The softener will recondition the net and lubricate the knots. This makes the net throw easier and last longer, it is also a great way to get rid of the nasty smell on your net if you miss a mullet or pogie and store the net away!
Repair the net-Repair all holes in the mesh as soon as possible. Small tears will become large holes if left un-repaired.
Obviously, it is best if you know the area where you are throwing and have checked it out at low tide for oysters, old crab traps or other snags. If you are not casting for shrimp or mullet, where you need to let the net settle to the bottom, it is good idea to pull the net before it hits the bottom in areas you don't know. For instance, when netting pogies you most often will catch most of them up off the bottom and can feel them in the net. Even with the best care you will have things break on your net. The 3 main types of repairs are: torn mesh, broken "hang line" on the leadline or a broken braille line (the mono lines that run from the swivel to the leadline, also called tuck lines)
Torn Mesh- There
are 2 main ways to repair torn mesh. For small tears or very small holes it is
easiest to tie new mesh. For large holes or tears it is best to cut the hole
out until it is even and tie in a patch made from spare pieces of the mesh.
Rather than try and explain it (nearly impossible) or draw my own pictures (very impossible with my artistic skills!) I am including a link to a source online for this info, Net Repair Instructions.
Another good idea is to pick up a copy of Ted Dahlem's book- "How to Make and Mend Cast Nets". While most of that book deals with actually tieing a multi-filament net from scratch, the sections on repairing a net are a huge help.
Along with the instructions on tieing the knots, etc. you will need to get a net needle and monofilament line of same diameter as that used to make the mesh in your net. The net needles are small plastic needles that you can wind the mono onto and allow you to pass it through the mesh. The needle is a must to do this and only costs about 75 cents. Get the smaller/narrower ones if you are just mending your net so it will work on various mesh nets. Check the Links page for some links to various net supply houses that carry the various supplies for tieing nets.
Loose Leadline- From time to time the leadline will come loose from the mesh when the "hangline" wears through or breaks. This does not happen often but since the leadline is scraped across the bottom it does occur. The best twine to use for this repair (and what should have been used to hang in your net) is bonded, twisted nylon. I use #9 to hang in my nets. The bonded part is important as the bonded twine holds the knots much better. I use a clove and a half hitch per mesh when hanging in a net with more half hitches at the beginning and end of the piece of hangline. Take a look at what was used on the net originally and try to use that if you need to.
Broken Braille Line- This is a tougher fix as
each braille line actually is a part of another of the braille lines. It is one
piece of mono that runs from the leadline, up through the swivel and back to
the leadline. If you are fixing a commercial net it will most likely have a
large crimped sleeve over the braille lines, on my custom nets I use a whipping
to hold the braille lines. This way I can cut the whipping and replace the
whole broken one. You just cut the whipping, find the other half of the broken
braille and cut it loose. Cut a new braille line to the same length and crimp
back in place at the 2 spots where the old one attached to the leadline. Then
put a new whipping on the braille lines.
On a commercial net it will be harder to find the other half of the line. If none of them are loose or pull through the crimp your best bet is to cut one on the opposite side of the net from where your line broke. Then cut a new line and crimp it to the 2 spots where the old ones were on the leadline and put a whipping on all of the braille lines either by the swivel or under the large sleeve.
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