In this article our intent is to show you how to make your own fish collection nets, not to explain how to use them to catch fish. This topic is covered in detail in Part 6 - How to Capture Fish. Now, we used two nets in our collecting. One was a 150' x 6' "set net", and the other a 75' x 6' "drop net". The set net was used for working in a stationary spot to collect fish that have one main house and don't stray far from it, and usually congregate in groups, such as Yellow and Kole Tangs. While collecting the main target fish, you also pick up other that are around the net area at the same time. The drop net is used for swimming and moving around with, to seek out targets of opportunity. These are fish that have various houses and roam openly on the reef from house to house, and often at long distances. We call this our search and find collecting method, which we discuss in detail in Part 6 - Capturing Fish.
Since a vast majority of you will not be commercial collectors, you will be using shorter nets and that is what we will be helping you construct. A 20-30 foot net will probably be all you need. You will be seeking individual specimens for your tank and not collecting a great number of fish at one time. Collecting your own fish is sort like the "ultimate pet shop". You can go look for a fish you want and hopefully be successful at catching it. You will also have total control over the quality of the fish.
Remember to check your local fishing laws first. Are the fish you want protected? Do you need a fish collecting license or a permit to have certain types of nets? We suggest you do not use throw nets as they trap the fish and they get tangled up in them causing gill, scale and skin damage. Make sure the mesh on the net material you are going to use is small enough that it does not gill the fish, and is of legal size to use. You want to stop the fish without them getting caught in the net.
You will want to use a 9-12 pound test 3/4" stretch monofilament net material. This is what we used. If you want to collect the smaller specimens, you will want to use 1/2" stretch. Stretch is the size of the hole in the net when it is symmetrically stretched out from corner to corner. We purchased all our net over the years through the The Nylon Net Company, who you can contact to request their catalog by phone or email and order the materials you need. You can always have them or another net company pre-build a net to your specifications. For the size nets we need it is cost prohibitive to order a pre-built net. For the smaller net you need, the pre-built option may be the easy way to go.
The height of the net will determine what you will be catching. The larger specimens have a tendency to swim higher off the bottom. We use a 6 foot high net as an all purpose net. This allows us to capture just about anything that we want. In fact, I can not recall a fish ever swimming over our net, unless the current is running strong and it lays the net down and the fish go over the top. To capture small to medium sized specimens, go with a minimum 3 foot high net. Fishes like Angels, Puffers, Damsels, Butterflies, and Surgeons/Tangs will usually go into the net near the bottom or middle of it. Wrasses and Eels tend to hug the bottom. Because of their skinny, sleek bodies, and if of a smaller size, they have at tendency to go through even tiny holes in a net. Parrotfishes and the larger Surgeons/Tangs tend to travel a bit higher, and if quite large, can crash a net easily. If you want to collect larger show sized specimens, a 6 foot high net is more practical. Specific details about the characteristics of different fish are discussed in detail in Part 6 - Capturing Fish.
If you decide you want to build your own net, here is what you will need:
- Net Material - As discussed above.
- Leads - 3" long cylindrical shape with hole down the center.
- A Tube Cutter - For cutting leads in half.
- Vice Grips - For holding leads when cutting.
- Floats - The floats are usually a drab orange-rust color about 3" long with a hole down the center
- 1/4" Polypropylene Rope - The color doesn't matter. This rope is used for making your float and lead lines.
- Nylon Net Twine - Used for sewing the float line and lead line to your net material.
- Small Eye Net Needle
- Rit Dye - One package yellow and one package gray colors. Used for dying the net material.
- A Spool of 15 pound test Monofilament Fishing Line - Used for mending net in the future.