Getting Started

Throwing a cast net is no easy feat. It has been said by many anglers that you can’t learn to throw properly just by reading about it, you will also need to watch videos and practice, practice and oh, did we mention practice? Here, we will provide you with a step by step directorial on how to throw your cast net, along with some tips and tricks on how to choose the proper cast net for your intended purposes.

What is a Cast Net Used For? 

Those who go through the learning process of properly using and throwing a cast net - let alone purchasing one - use them to catch various forms of bait fish. Proper bait fish are normally expensive and if you fish enough, you don’t want to keep paying for your live bait when you can just cast a net to catch a decent amount while you’re already out on the water.

How to Throw a Cast Net:

  • - Secure the hand-line wrist loop to your non-dominant hand.
  • - Drop the remaining hand-line and net, literally everything, leaving only the wrist loop attached to your wrist and everything else laying on the ground.
  • - Grabbing the hand-line that is dangling from your wrist, make several 12-inch coils by looping the remaining hand-line with your other hand, placing the coils into your bound hand (like you are wrapping up an extension cord).
  • - Take the top of the net (known as the horn, where the cylinder of strings comes together) and place it in the hand holding the coiled hand-line, facing your palm up.
  • - Using the net, make one more coil slightly larger than the ones you made with the hand-line, placing it in the hand with the other coils.
  • - Using your free hand, split the remaining net in half, untwisting the net as you run it through your hand. Grab the net halfway between the end of the coil you made and the leaded weight line.
  • - Roll the half in your hand, transferring it over the thumb holding the other coils, letting the entire net rest over that hand. Make sure not to let the resting net cross with the coiled net in your hand.
  • - With your free hand, grab the area of lead line that hangs the lowest, placing that section in-between your teeth (we know, not the most pleasant part of this tutorial).
  • - Using your dominant hand, grab the part of the weighted line that hangs down from your teeth. With your palm facing up, keep the weight line in-between your pinky and ring fingers.
  • - Keeping the lead line between your two fingers, with the same hand, grab the net that you rested earlier over your thumb.
  • - Now that you have the cast net where you want it, with your toes facing your target destination, twist back at your waist. Then, twisting back forward, let go of everything (especially the weights within your teeth) once your torso faces the same direction as your toes. Let go with your teeth and your dominant hand at the same time, followed lastly by the coils in your other hand.
  • - If everything was done properly, you should have then watched your net fan out and fall in a nice flat equal circle as it sunk to the bottom.
  • - Once the net has sunk sufficiently, grab on to the hand-line still attached to your wrist. Pull on the line until your net comes up full of your desired bait-fish.

What Size Cast Net Should You Be Using?

If you are a beginner it is recommended to NOT try it with a smaller net. Contrary to popular belief, it is not easier to throw a lighter/smaller net. Most anglers would say using a standard 8-foot net is the best choice, whether you are a beginner or a standard residential angler. In Florida, you can use nets anywhere from 3 to 14 feet (14 feet being the largest size allowed in Florida). Using a small net either 3 or 6 feet is normally only effective when you are in a canal or near trees. Wading is another acceptable application in which using a smaller net comes in handy. 

Throwing a 10, 12 or 14-foot net gets increasingly harder as the length gets larger. Cast nets are measured by the distance from the nets weight line to the horn of the net; meaning, the standard number associated with the cast net is in fact the radius. As the numbers raise to 10, 12 and 14 feet the size and weight doubles (example: An 8-foot net is actually 16 feet in diameter and a 12-footer is 24 feet in diameter). These larger nets are generally used for commercial purposes. So, an 8 foot cast net is most likely the best option.

What Material and Mesh Size Should Your Net Have?

As far as material goes, there are 4 main types used now-a-days. Back in the day, the most popular materials used to be linen or cotton because they were easy to come across. Similar to linen and cotton, nylon is a less popular choice today because they absorb water, making the weight increase as the net is used. Most fisherman today use a monofilament cast net. This material makes for the best cast net because it does not absorb water and it is clear, so the bait does not see it coming until it is too late.

Another important aspect of a cast net is the mesh size. There are various sizes to choose from, with the most popular ranging from 1/4 inch to 5/8 inch. The 1/4 in mesh is best for small white bait measuring 2-3 inches and the 3/8 inches mesh for bait at 3-4 inches. Half-inch mesh is best used for bait 4-5 inches in length and finally, 5/8 inches is best used for anything over 5 inches. The most popular mesh size used by anglers tends to be 3/8 of an inch. Check out the chart below to see a few types of bait that can be caught with each size of net mentioned above:

Mesh SizeBait SizeBait Type
1/4 inch2-3 inchesSmall Scaled Sardines, Minnow, Shrimp
3/8 inch3-4 inchesSardines, Small Pin Fish, Thread Fish
1/2 inch4-5 inchesLarge Pin Fish, Menhaden, Finger Mullet
5/8 inch5+ inchesMenhaden, Shad, Small Blue Runner

Putting It All Together:

Take the time to learn how to properly throw the cast net. Until you learn to throw the net fully, you should practice on your lawn. Whatever you do, do not throw it on pavement of any kind, it can damage the weights and snag the net. If you are just starting out or even if you are just an everyday residential fisherman, the 8-foot net is the best bet for you. Depending on what you are trying to catch and where you are doing it, just remember that the 3/8 inches mesh is probably the most sensible choice. An 8-foot 3/8 inches monofilament mesh cast net is probably the most universally used net out there. It’s a safe bet to keep one of these in your arsenal. As you get more versed in the cast net world, feel free to try out all sorts of nets to see what works best for you and your needs.

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