To some people, a net is a net. For those that have had a fish too big for their current net, they know there's a reason to want to upgrade. For years I've fished with a Cabela's wood net with a rubber basket. It's actually been quite a good net, but I sort of struggled with it at times while taking it to Alaska or getting into some of Utah's larger tiger trout, browns, and rainbows. It was always good enough, until earlier this year when I was trying to net the largest brown I've ever caught in my life. Three times I had the fish to my net, but the net was undersized and I couldn't scoop the fish up. On the third try, I got the fish's head into the neat, but only about half his body fit. He flipped once as I lifted the fish, and flopped back into the river. From there, he immediately spat the hook and was gone. I sat there dumbfounded for a good 5 minutes, not sure if I should be excited about what had just happened or crushed that I was robbed of a quick photo opportunity. I went with the latter, and a day later, I found myself in a local fly shop looking for a new net.
Armed with a handful of recommendations from fellow anglers and the High Country Anglers of Utah Facebook group, I was keyed in on the Fishpond Nomad line. Once I was in the shop and started handling nets and comparing feature (weight, balance, reach, design, etc.), I felt pretty confident with the Nomad, and picked it up on faith. Here's how it's fared over the past few weeks of heavy fishing.
When I first looked at the Nomad mid-length net, my first worry was how easy it would be to pack around with me. The fly shop salesman told me that longer handled nets are actually easier to carry, because the handle can slip behind your pack, into your belt, a lumbar support, or even a net holster much easier than a standard length handle can. I put that to the test on my first trip out to a a local stillwater that is home to a healthy population of large cutthroat trout. In order to get to the water, there's a bit of a hike in order, and I hoped that the net would stay put through my trek. Not only did the net stay put as I hiked, ducked under trees, pushed through brush, and stepped over and around rocks, not once did the basket catch on anything, which was far more common with my shorter net that generally hung from my side. Sure enough, the longer handle had an immediate improvement to the net's packable nature.
As I started catching fish, I was also quickly won over by the reach offered by the longer handle and the large hoop. With a longer rod, getting extra reach with a net is a huge bonus. I was able to land fish more quickly, more comfortably remove my fly, and get fish back to swimming far better than I ever could with nets I've used in the past.
The lightweight, yet durable, build of the net comes from its carbon-fiber and fiberglass construction. It's well balanced and easy to handle with a single hand. There are some choices in styling, but I appreciate the measurement guide on the handle. I've been lucky enough to land a handful of fish that have already stretched beyond the 22" line that starts on the handle just beyond the hoop.
The Nomad also floats beautifully, which is quite appreciable in the moments when a clumsy moment strikes you. I'm not going to admit to being clumsy, but I've already been pleased with how the Nomad float with a cork-like buoyancy.
At $159.95-$179.95, the Nomad series is not a cheap line of nets, but after trips on rivers, lakes (shore and float tube), and even tiny creeks, I have to admit that I'm finding the price justified. Fishpond has created something that is durable, lightweight, stylish, and a high performer. To those that might raise an eye on the price, I would recommend that they get into a fly shop and get hands on with the net an compare it to what they're currently using. Yes, the Fishpond Nomad nets are a premium product, but they definitely live up to the expectation that comes with that sort of price tag.