One of the most important stages in an angler’s progression is the transition from buying bait to catching bait. Throwing a cast net is a rite of passage for some anglers, for others it’s a way of life. But it can be tough to avoid tangles and get the right spin when you first learn how to throw a cast net. Never fear—expert help is here!

How to Throw a Cast Net

We asked Anthony Whitehurst, owner of Princess Anne Distributors in Virginia Beach, to walk us through the steps for throwing pancakes. This method makes it possible to use the net from a kayak or standup paddleboard.

1 Loop-the-Loop

Lay the cast net out on the ground. Coil the rope in your left hand. Grab the bridle and loop the net two times in the same hand.

Photo: Ric Burnley
Simple start. | Photo: Ric Burnley

2 Gather the First Third

Gather a third of the lead line in your right hand.

Photo: Ric Burnley
Easy does it. | Photo: Ric Burnley

3 Place It Under Arm

Pinch the first third under your left arm.

Photo: Ric Burnley
Don’t let go. | Photo: Ric Burnley

4 Split the Remainder Between Both Hands

Gather the second third in your left hand and the final third in your right hand. Now you have one third of the lead line under your arm, one third in your right hand and one third in your left hand.

Photo: Ric Burnley
Get ready. | Photo: Ric Burnley

5 Release All Three in Sequence

Keep your shoulders pointing the direction you want the net to fly. Swing the net like a sack of potatoes. Unload the lead in your right hand first, followed by the left hand and finally release the net bunched up under your arm.

Photo: Ric Burnley
Let it all go. | Photo: Ric Burnley

6 Open Wide and Admire Your Throw

Open your arms to make the lead line spin into a perfect circle. Since this method starts with the net low and the angler never turns his shoulders, it’s possible to throw the net from a kayak.

Photo: Ric Burnley
Get that bait. | Photo: Ric Burnley


Choosing the Best Cast Net for You

Cast nets are measured in radius, weight and mesh size. A shorter, three-foot net will be easier to throw but cover less area making it harder to catch bait. Weight is listed as pound per foot of the net’s circumference. A net with 3/4-pound of lead per square foot is light enough to throw with little effort, but it will sink slowly, making it best for shallow water. Deep water requires a pound or more of lead per foot. Mesh size is the diagonal measurement of each opening in the net.

Quarter-inch mesh will snare small baits like minnows or anchovies. For larger bait and a faster sink rate, a wider mesh is better in deep water. Cast nets constructed with multiple panels open faster and fly farther. Rinse the net after each use. Never hang the net so the weights are off the ground. Every few months, soak the net in fabric softener to prevent dry-rot. Avoid storing the net wet and balled up in a bucket.

This article was first published in the Early Summer 2018 issue of Kayak Angler Magazine. Subscribe to Kayak Angler Magazine’s print and digital editions, or browse the archives.

Save money, catch bait. | Feature Photo: Courtesy Kaku Kayaks and SUPs

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“Thank God my dad wasn’t a podiatrist,” jokes Ric about following in the footsteps of a famous outdoor writer. After graduating from Radford University and serving two years in Russia with the Peace Corps, Ric returned to Virginia Beach and started writing for The Fisherman magazine, where his dad was editor. When the kayak fishing scene exploded, Ric was among the first to get onboard. His 2007 book, The Complete Kayak Fisherman is one of the first tomes to introduce anglers to paddle fishing and hundreds of articles and seminars have brought countless anglers into the fold. When he’s not chasing every fish that swims, Ric teaches English at a school for at-risk teens.


  1. Thanks for explaining that opening up the arms will help get the circular shape you need for a cast net. My brother is interested in fishing since he just moved to a coastal area, and I know getting a cast net and learning how to use it is on his list of things to do. I’ll send him this article so he can start practicing the form and learn how to cast the net effectively!

  2. Thanks for the tip that the proper posture of my shoulders will help a lot in throwing cast nets more easily. I’d like to start learning how to fish using a net because I’m interested in getting into aquaculture someday. Knowing how to properly harvest from a pond would be crucial.


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