The hardest concept for anglers to wrap their head around when they first sit inside a kayak is how to land a fish while you have a paddle in one hand and a rod in the other. Actually usually the first concept is proabably, “How am I supposed to carry my beer in that?” but the next is how to land a fish. I’ve bounced around a few different options, but the one that makes the most sense to me is also probably the simplest. WindPaddle, known for their kayak-compatible sails, has recently released a Floating Fishing Net, $59.95, also called their Release Right landing net, which is so simple and smart that you’ll wish you thought of it.
Tough Trip Proven
When it came to preparing and packing for my latest canoe trip (which was absolutely and totally insane), I knew I wanted to bring a net, especially in case we encounted any big pike (which we did), but I didn’t want to have to carry around a net with a handle. That’s a pain any day on the water, let alone on a week-long canoe trip with more portaging than you’d like. I decided on WindPaddle’s latest creation and it overperformed the whole trip.
Photo: The WindPaddle Release Right net has a giant 29″ opening for landing even the biggest fish.
The Basic Concept
The net is a basic circle net, with a large opening big enough for just about any fish to fall into and a deep 24″ holding well that lets fish breathe and stay underwater while you get your camera or lippers ready. The basic idea behind the net is that you reel up the fish to within reach and simple drop the fish into the net, attached to your kayak via a buckled loop attachment point. Some anglers say that placing a rock at the bottom of the net is needed to ensure the net fully deploys. I found that if you’re fishing in one spot and don’t need to worry about moving around and the net creating drag, simply leaving the net in the water lets the net fully deploy on its own after just a few minutes and the only thing visible on the surface is the floating ring at the top of the net.
That floating ring at the top of the net is what makes the net so handy. An angler can let the net float beside the kayak as they fish, or attach it to the kayak and deploy it when they hook up, and the net will land the fish on its own. A 9″ deep solid black curtain starting at the the top of the net also makes sure fish swim to the bottom, rather than trying to jump out. Super clever. I dropped a lot of fish into the net while testing (not to toot my own angling horn) and not a single fish tried to escape out of the top.
Photo: Deploying the WindPaddle landing net is as simple as tossing it into the air and watching it do its job.
The Specs That Matter
For those worried about storing the net on the kayak, the giant 29″ loop folds down into a circle only 11″ wide, which makes stashing the net behind or underneath a kayak seat a snap. The net also weighs only 12 ounces, so you can toss the net into the air all day long and watch as it self-deploys.
I’m really excited to test the net more, especially on bigger fish in super clear water, like when I start going after striped bass on the flats of Cape Cod, MA (so soon I’m getting the shakes). One of the big pike we caught was easily 32″ and the net handled that fish perfectly. The heavy fish fell right into the bottom of the net, which gave my trip partners time to get their cameras ready while I retrieved the hook and let the fish breathe.
Photo: The WindPaddle Landing Net lets you give the fish a break while you get cameras ready and retrieve the hook. Photo Credit: Rex DeGuzman
Better For The Angler, Better For The Fish
To me, the coolest part of the net, besides the fact that it makes landing fish really, really easy, is that it’s also the best way of landing the fish for the fish’ sake. I’ve never like fish grip style keepers because I can’t imagine the fish like a giant clamp on their face. I’ve always figured the fish is still being stressed out and not fully recooperating before you try and take a photo and let them go. With WindPaddle’s new Release Right net, you can quickly get the hook out and let them breathe and gather their senses beneath the surface of the water. That way when you release the fish after your quick photo, the time that they’ve spent out of the water is minimal to non-existant. That’s the right way to land a fish.
For more information on WindPaddle, or their new Release Right Floating Fishing Net, check out their website, WindPaddle.com.