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August 12, 2008

Cast Nets 101

Choose the right tool to pack 'em in your livewell.

Cast netting has always been something of a love affair for me.

On central Florida's east coast, where I grew up, my father and grandfather crafted high-quality custom cast nets for more than 30 years at their shop, Ted Lund Cast Nets. Some 15 years after the shop's doors closed, I still get phone calls inquiring if I can make new nets or repair old ones.

An aversion to geometry prevented me from taking up the family craft, but that didn't stop me from learning how to use the product. As an aspiring light-tackle guide in Key West, Florida, I found out early on that I had to learn to throw a big net to procure the serious amounts of bait necessary for chasing blackfin and yellowfin tuna, sailfish, king mackerel and other species from outboard center consoles.
The concept is simple: He or she with the most bait wins. Sabikis, hair hooks and other methods of catching bait are effective, but nothing beats a cast net for putting sheer volume in the livewell.
I hate to admit it, but I'm kind of a cast-net junkie. I have one for glass minnows and another for catching small pilchards in shallow water. Of course, I need another net for larger pilchards in the   shallows and an entirely different beast for chucking over big pilchards and herring in deep water.
Just as you need a variety of clubs to play golf, you need different nets to handle diverse jobs. Before you start slinging, it helps to know what to look for in a good net and what type of net will serve your specific bait-catching requirements.