Many people are hesitant to buy a top quality custom net because they are not sure it is necessary, or worth the extra money, compared to the cheaper production nets. If you ask any professional fisherman, shrimper or charter captain if a good panel or custom net is worth the money and they will say YES. Properly made cast nets not only cover more water with each throw, but they open much easier than cheaper nets. Custom nets are also made to your individual needs and will therefore be more useful to the average user. Cast Nets are truly one of those items that fit the saying "you get what you payed for". Wether you are using your net to just catch bait or to catch shrimp for the freezer, a custom net will speed up the process and allow you to get back to fishing or to stock up the freezer in a shorter amount of time.
There are 3 basic grades of cast nets on the market.
Bullseye nets- These nets are the cheapest to make and are the way most of the very inexpensive to moderate nets are made. The net is made from long strips of webbing/mesh with the ends of the strip sewn together. This makes a hoop of net and each hoop is smaller than the first. The edges of these hoops tied together to make the net. This design of net, while faster and cheaper to make, is not as effective as panel nets since there is alot of excess webbing/mesh to be held and thrown and the excess creates more drag in the water. This leads to the net closing before it has sunk to the bottom. These nets are also unable to open to anywhere near a full spread since the design does not allow it and in almost every case the leadline is not long enough to equal the full circumference as dictated by the radius.
Machine tied/commercial panel nets- The more expensive production nets on the market are panel nets, and are far better than the bullseye nets. The panel nets actually use less mesh to be constructed and yet they spread more fully. This is due to the construction and pattern used to make the nets, since each panel is tapered from the top to the bottom and then tied together, the net will lay much flatter and spread more fully without the excess mesh. By using less mesh the net will sink faster with far less drag. Still, these nets are not the best since they are all made with 6 panels and rarely have a leadline that is the full length that it should be based on the radius of the net. Also, many of these nets are not tied well at the edges of the panel. Many are just laced up or the mesh is bunched and tied together rather than tied from mesh to mesh as in custom nets. Another short coming of these nets in the amount of lead used on the net. If you look at their ads they all will state that they use a full 1 1/2 pounds of lead per foot radius of net and that their nets are heavier than the competition. It may seem that the heavier net is always better but this is not the case. Each net will work best with a different amount of lead depending on the size of the net and the size and diameter of the mesh. While just throwing more lead on a net will make it sink faster it does not mean it will work better.
Custom nets- While true custom, hand tied nets are also panel nets there are some big differences. Custom nets are tied with more panels allowing the net to open more fully and easily and have a better shape. Custom nets are usually put together by tieing the panels with new mesh rather than lacing them together making for a net that sinks better and catches more fish. As the name suggests, the custom nets can be made to order and meet your specific needs. For instance, your net can be designed to work well in deeper water by matching the right amount of lead to a mesh that is larger and lighter. Or if you need a net to catch very fast baitfish in shallow water then the net can be tied using more weight.
All of my custom cast nets are hand tied and are made with 8 panels of high quality mesh. Currie Custom Cast Nets are designed to open easily and fully and to lay flat. The highest quality materials are used on Currie Custom Cast Nets.
Specific features of my nets are:
MESH- The mesh/body of the net is extremely important to the performance of the net. I use high quality mesh in all of my nets. My nets are made with 8 panels of mesh rather than the 6 panels common on production, higher end nets. The extra panels of mesh, along with the pattern used to cut out each panel, are crucial to tieing a great net. To make a net of a given radius, say 8ft, you need to end up with enough meshes at the base of the panels to equal the circumference of that net. With an 8ft radius net that is a 50ft leadline. This is what determines the pattern by which each panel is cut. If only 6 panels are used, then each panel has to be cut wider at the bottom than when using 8 panels. In fact it really is not possible to have enough meshes at the base of 6 panels to equal 50ft (on an 8ft net). This is why even production panel cast nets have leadlines that are short. Also, since each panel is straight at the bottom, not a curve like a circle, the wider the panel is the longer that straight line will be. With 8 panels the base of the net is closer to a true circle. The reason the production nets use the 6 panels is that it cuts down on the amount of work needed to sew the panels together and hang the leadline, which means the nets can be sold for less. Another important step in constructing the net is tieing the panels together. My nets are all hand tied and the panels are tied together by creating new mesh. Most production nets use the far easier and faster method of lacing the panels together or bunching the mesh and tieing the bunches together. Either of these methods create more drag when net sinking.
Lead- Like I said above, the amount of lead hung on the net is crucial. Just adding more lead to make the net sink faster will not make the net work better. For instance, if a net has small or heavy mesh it will create more drag as it sinks. If to much lead is added it will sink faster but the increased drag will slow the body of the net as in sinks, pull on the leadline and close the net before it reaches the bottom. If used in shallow water this would not be a problem but if you are shrimping or catching bait in water that is deeper the net will be closed by the time it reaches the prey. At the same time, if to much lead is used on a light mesh net it can "overpower" the net during the throw and not allow the net to open fully or function correctly. It is a balancing act and each net will have a certain range of lead that works best on it. For most nets I use high quality, oblong leads. The long, narrow leads have slightly more drag and are can crack in half over time, so most high quality net use round leads. The oblong leads are just slightly longer than they are wide and work better on the net than the round ones but still have less drag. Occasionally I do use the long, narrow leads on large mesh nets keep the lead from flipping through the larger mesh.
Twine and Rope- I use #9 bonded nylon twine to hang the leadline and to tie on the horn. This size twine gives good strength and wears well and the bonding holds the knots better than straight nylon twine. The leadlines on my nets are made of either 3/16" Polyethylene or Polypropylene rope. I use the Polyethylene on most nets as it has little stretch, good strength and sinks. On some nets that require a stiffer leadline I use the Polypropylene rope. While it does float, the stiffer construction of the poly rope is needed at times. The handlines on my nets are all made with 1/4" hollow braid Polypropylene rope. This rope is easy on the hands and floats, a definite plus if you ever lose the looped end overboard on a throw.
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