Space constraints have been age-old problems for the small boat owner. A lack of room and bulky items often sees many get trampled under foot — a nuisance at the best of times but an accident waiting to happen at the worst. The biggest culprit in the space game is the landing net. A needed accessory for the boat but a sizeable one at that.
My own struggles with a landing net and my 14-foot aluminum have been ongoing for 20-plus years. So last season I finally made a change.
The Frabill Hiber-Net Stowable Net is a design concept that was long overdue. With a net and frame that instantly collapses and stores in the handle, the boat can now be clear of the clutter that these items bring on board.
Although I had read up on the Hiber-Net prior to ordering it, I must admit I was a little skeptical until I tried it for myself. Housed in an attractive gold-colored handle, a simple slide on the grip mechanism makes the net and hoop magically appear. A firm push down and the net is now locked in placed. If I had to guess the process takes a mere second. When not in use, slide the grip back up the shaft of the handle to disengage the net and hide it once again. It really is that simple.
The system itself is lightweight yet rugged and the one-inch diameter knotless "catch and release" netting is fish and hook friendly. The handle is also comfortable in the hand — a common complaint I have had with other nets on the market.
I chose the 52-inch Hiber-Net for the game fish I chase. With a hoop size of 24-by-22 inches and a depth of 24-inches, this has fit my needs perfectly when it comes to landing bass, walleye and northern pike. And after hundreds of fish over the last year, the net still functions as it did on day one, with no signs of net or handle fatigue.
The Hiber-Net does require two hands to open, so if fishing with a partner keep it stored "closed" until your trophy fish is caught. At that point, it takes only a second for one person to quickly grab the handle and slide it open. When out on solo outings, keeping the net "open" at the back of the boat seems to work best for me. Ensure that the handle is right-side up before opening or closing. Failure to do so can cause the mesh to get tangled, but this is a simple mistake you will only make once.
The greatest attribute this net brings to the fishing game is its reduced size. And although a godsend for the small boat owner, those running larger crafts will also appreciate the ease in which it can be stored. For trailering or running down the lake, the simple addition of a Velcro strap to the deck keeps the handle safe and secure.
Give the Frabill Hiber-Net a go this season and see what all the fuss is about. I have tried many nets over the years but this one will be the style I rely on for many years to come.