Just as with any other activity, such as swinging a golf club or shooting a basketball, there is no one correct way to throw a cast net. Sure, there are some basic principles that need to be adhered to if you want to avoid ending up tangled in your net, but a lot of the nuances are negotiable. Obviously, smaller nets are easier to start with and easier to throw. Your overall size and throwing ability will also be a factor. If you can’t toss a net 15 feet, there’s not much point in owning a 15-foot diameter net. It’s also important that you have enough oomph to drag the net back in once you’ve cast it. Fortunately, besides that, there’s not a lot to it, apart from repetition and finding your own specific procedures that work for you. Here’s a breakdown of the basic methods to cast netting.

Materials Needed to Cast Net

  • A cast net of proper size
  • Waders, cutoffs, or a swimsuit
  • A small, sharp knife or cutters

How to Cast Net

sunset cast netting

Image credits: Bobby Mc Leod via Unsplash

Step One: Hand Line Attachment

Some folks prefer to attach the loop at the end of the hand line to their left wrist. Other folks prefer to place it under their left foot, assuming they won’t move their foot when they toss the net. Either method will work. If the hand line does get away when you throw the net, don’t worry too much. It’s not a football, you didn’t toss the thing too far. You can just wade out and get it.

Step Two: Hand Line Management

Some folks like to loop the hand line up in their left hand and hold it the same way a cowboy holds a lasso. This works alright for the majority of folks, but some prefer to loop the line-up on the ground by their left foot. So long as the line can spool out without tangling, it doesn’t really matter where you keep it.

Step Three: Folding

fishermen with a net

Image credits: anfangzhan via Pixabay

Take the yoke or horn of the net in your left hand. This is the portion of the net where the hand line attaches, and there is normally a metal or plastic ring located there. Keep the yoke in your left hand and run your right hand down the net, squishing it together into a wad. When you have about an arm’s length of the net, bring it back and fold it over to grip by the yolk. If you’re having a hard time holding the yolk and the netting at the same time, with multiple folds, let the yolk hang over behind your left hand.

Step Four: Preflight Check

Look over what you’ve got going and make sure the hand line and the net aren’t tangled. It is at this point that plenty of people suggest holding a length of the hand line in your teeth to keep it from snagging. Thus, it’s not really necessary and, frankly, a good way to dislodge a tooth. It’s also like trying to tap dance and chew bubble gum at the same time. Throwing a net goes better if you keep it simple.

Step Five: Toss It

Swivel about ninety degrees with your upper body, twist back, and allow the whole thing to fly. Yet, only give a slight spinning action to the lower portion of the net. This will make the rig fan out, and it should, more or less, expand to its full diameter before hitting the water. If it doesn’t work perfectly, don’t get too worked up. There is a big difference between netting in practice videos and in real life. In an actual lake, good enough is more than good enough with a cast net.

Step Six: Sink and Retrieve

a fisherman with a net

Image credits: Quang Nguyen vinh via Pixabay

With the net out in the water, you’ll want to let the rig sink into the lake or surf or whatever body of water you’re working in. As it sinks it will, hopefully, trap some fish in it. When the net is completely submerged, and you figure it can’t sink anymore, try pulling it in with the hand line. If it comes in smooth, great. If it snags, you’ll have to go out and untangle it. This is where you may find a use for the small knife listed above. Occasionally, there’s no remedy other than a little cutting.

A Few Final Thoughts

The less time you spend worrying over perfect form or perfect tosses with your net, the more fish you’ll bring in. Your cast net experience will also be noticeably more enjoyable if you pick a relatively snag-free environment to get started in. Spending the day cutting the net free and trying to mend it is nobody’s idea of a good time. With a little practice and some trial and error, you’ll get the hang of it in no time.