Cast Net Basics
The six main parts that make up a cast net are the hand line, swivel, horn, brail lines, lead line and the net. The hand line is used to pull the net back to you after making a throw. Next, we have the swivel which attaches the hand line to the brail lines. There are multiple brail lines tied at even increments to the lead line which pull threw the horn and tuck the net inward to keep fish from getting away. The horn also acts as an attachment point for the net on the upper end and the net then attaches to the lead line on the lower end.
The two classifications for cast nets are mesh size and length. Mesh size refers to the size of the holes in the net. By using a ruler and measuring the holes from knot to knot in a cast net you can determine the mesh size. Mesh size is one of the most important factors when purchasing a net because if your holes are too large the fish will swim threw the net, whereas if the holes are too small the net will sink slowly. Net length is another factor to consider when purchasing a net. Cast nets are measured by the radius. To find the length of a cast net simply place the weights on the ground, hold the net up by the horn and measure vertically. It is important to remember that a larger net will cover more area and thus catch more fish, but also has more lead which requires more effort to throw. In general, I would recommend a 3/8 mesh 5-7 foot net for shrimp or bait and a 5/8 mesh 8-10 foot net for menhaden.
Cast nets are made primarily out of monofilament and do require some care if you expect them to last. First, mono tears easily so throwing a net over oysters or dragging it across barnacles will tear the netting. It is good practice to look the net over from time to time for holes. Small holes can be repaired using 20 lb monofilament. Nets should be cleaned after every trip and stored damp. If your net becomes stiff you can limber it up by soaking the entire net in a bucket of water and a cup of liquid fabric softener for 15 minuets.
Captain Charlie Beadon