Fishing with artificial lures can be a great way to get a catch on the water. There’s nothing like throwing plastics or a rig out into the brine and reeling it back with a trophy-sized fish on the end of your line. Saltwater fishing doesn’t automatically warrant success, however, and sometimes the action can get stale when the fish either become bored with your lures or aren’t interested in the first place.
To help pick up the tempo and avoid lulls in your saltwater fishing experience, Pro saltwater fisherman Captain Blair Wiggins recommends having a cast net handy.
“A cast net is just a net that you can throw over the bait that’s out there at the time,” Wiggins says. “And a lot of times when you’re out there trying to get those fish that you’re targeting, they are keyed in so much to that [specific] live bait that they’re not going to look at an artificial.”
The simple design and efficiency of a cast net can help saltwater anglers quickly stock up on bait fish when necessary, allowing them to transition from artificial to live bait setups with ease. When choosing a cast net to add to your fishing gear list, you should consider qualities like size, weight and mesh size. Throwing a cast net can also be a trying task for amateurs. Be sure your equipment is right and your technique is clean with these saltwater Pro Tips to keep the bite turned on.
CAST NET SPECS FOR BETTER BAIT FISHING
Using the right-sized gear when you’re using a cast net can be the difference between pulling in two bait fish and netting 200 pieces of bait. Understanding the size, weight and mesh size of your equipment can help you maximize your potential haul with each toss.
Size is determined by the radius of the cast net when it’s completely open. There are a number of sizes available to fishermen, ranging from the small three-foot nets to 10-, 12- and even up to 14-foot nets used by serious commercial anglers. For recreational saltwater fishing, you should be able to find success with a net that’s six or eight feet. Any smaller and you might be limiting your haul, and any more might cause the net to be too heavy for a proper cast.
When looking at the different mesh patterns available in cast nets, you’ll want to match the mesh to your intended bait fish. Small 1/4-inch openings mesh can effectively catch petite white baits (two to three inches in length), 3/8-inch mesh can hold three- to four-inch baits, and 1/2-inch mesh house four- to five-inch baits. The main idea behind choosing a mesh size is that you want the largest mesh possible so that the fish can properly travel through the water.
Finally, the weight of your cast will influence its sinking ability as it encapsulates your intended targets. The main point of weight on your cast net is going to sit in your lead line, toward the bottom of your net. This is where the lead weights are located. You can customize the weight shapes to your liking, but remember to find a good middle weight that isn’t too light or too heavy. A good number to shoot for is 1.5 lbs. per radius foot. So, if you have an eight-inch cast net, it should weigh roughly 12 lbs.
THROWING YOUR CAST NET
When it comes to how to throw a cast net, there are enough techniques to fill a field journal. Everyone has their own personal style, including Wiggins.
“I have my way. I think my way’s the best because I can ‘pancake’ it out there,” Wiggins says. “What I mean by a pancake is when you throw a cast net, you want it to look like a pancake when it hits the water. That way it sinks real fast and catches all the bait you need.”
With so many throwing styles to choose from, the only true way to learn is by trial and error. Find a technique that is comfortable for you. The main goal is to have the net hit the flat on the water when it hits the surface for maximum coverage. If you can master that, then you can throw however you feel is right.
BONUS PRO TIP: Don’t try to muscle out the cast net to far-off schools of bait fish. Overthrowing can cause more problems for fishermen than shorting the distance. When it comes to getting that premier toss, technique will always trump strength.
A cast net can be just the piece of gear you need to keep your saltwater fishing adventure afloat. Give your artificial lures a break and stock up on precious baitfish by packing a quality cast net on your next angling expedition. As Wiggins says: “It’s so much easier to feed them than to fool them.”