There are lots of great net companies in fly fishing, and some names immediately come to mind: Brodin, Fisknat, etc. This is also an area where there are many sleepers, however; net craftmanship–like bamboo–lends itself to the small shop.
Some years ago I went looking for the best inexpensive wooden net I could find. Some research led me to the Sperrey Net company, which manufactured nets for LL Bean (and may still). I bought my net, a ‘float tube’ model with an 18″ handle, solely on price (under $50) and didn’t expect it to be much of an improvement over the Wal-Mart pine specials I had previously owned.
Imagine how thrilled I was to discover that Sperrey’s craftsmen take the time to gloss-coat the net in a hard, clear finish, with no low spots or grain texture. My net is made of reel seat-grade burled maple (actually, a higher grade of wood than is normal), has a high-end net bag, and has now lasted me four hard seasons strapped to backpacks. I’ve used it to land some of my biggest fish. Since buying my net, I’ve looked closely at others on the market, and I have yet to see a superior fit and finish–even at twice the cost. Sperrey is not the kind of company to have any ad budget at all, but good craftsmanship should be recognized, especially at an affordable price.
Have a favorite fly fishing net? Know of a budget sleeper in another product category? Share with us in the Comments section!