Things fall apart. That’s why I don’t do many gear reviews. Usually sooner than later, everything I fish with breaks, separates, leaks, delaminates or disintegrates, so I don’t recommend things very much. Entropy swallows up fishing gear pretty quickly.
But the net holster from Smith Creek could, quite possibly, last a lifetime.
Even as a troutbitten kid, I hated carrying a net. In my early years, though, I attempted to get with the program, and I tried all the popular ways of attaching them to the back of a vest or pack with carabiners, overpriced magnets, ropes, cords, and other tethers . . .
I once watched my Dad’s eyes widen in comical but terrible expectation as he winced for the inevitable blow from his landing net — stretched on its elastic cord and doubled in length with (painful) potential energy, the tension formed when the net stuck on a branch and Dad walked four feet ahead. Oh boy. Dad cringed as he tried to back up, but the branch snapped. Thump! I do hate being tethered to anything.
For many years I carried no net because I could find no good solution, and it just wasn’t worth the hassle. I tried tucking a net into my belt, but in just a few months, I could see a badly wearing spot (soon to be a leak) on my waders from what was an uncomfortable solution anyway. I gave that up too. Fishing with my sons is what changed me. Young boys need a place to inspect the fish they catch while keeping them wet, and so I finally needed a net. Fair enough.
What bothers me most about the traditional carrying solution is the weight of the net on my back. The constant pull of even a lightweight option just isn’t something that I want to get used to. Yes, I could balance the weight by adding even more gear to the front of my vest as a counterbalance, but the weight is still on the shoulders.
I also carry a liter of water hanging from a carabiner on my belt, and as any hiker knows, carried weight is much better on the hips than the shoulders. As I wrote in a recent post, I enjoy fishing full days more than anything, and keeping the shoulders light is one of the things that makes me comfortable.
When I bought the Smith Creek Net Holster, I honestly didn’t expect it would work so well. I thought the net would slip out. It doesn’t. The heavy duty nylon is adjustable with very sturdy Velcro — just adjust it so the net handle is snug and forget about it. I thought the net might be difficult to grab and to replace. It isn’t. In fact, it’s easier for me than any other carrying method. I expected by now that I would have lost the net, but I haven’t. It’s been two and a half years with the same net in the holster. And no tether.
You need a sturdy belt. The flimsy, thin belts that are commonly provided with your waders won’t do. I’ve been using the same leather belt for fifteen years or more (I get attached to things), ever since I started carrying the liter of water.
On the metal frame of the net holster, the gap for threading the belt is two inches wide. If you use a narrower belt, the holster will canter from side to side because of the extra space. That’s irritating. I cut pieces of another rigid belt and taped them into the gap of the net holster frame because my belt is only one inch wide. That fills up the extra room and stops any side to side sagging of the net. It works, but you will find it easier to buy a simple, sturdy, nylon utility belt that’s two inches wide.
You can feel the handle on your rear end. It’s something you get used to after a few minutes. In fact, it’s how you know the net’s there. A few times, while hiking through the woods, the net has caught a tree limb and pulled up and out of the holster. I usually feel the absence of the handle immediately, so I turn around and pick up the net.
The net holster can be used with most packs and vests. At first glance, it would seem that the net needs to lie flat against your back, but that’s not the case. I wear a vest, and I often store extra layers, sandwiches and other necessities in the back pockets. The extra supplies push out the net hoop, but it’s not much of a problem. You just feel the handle more.
I’ve worn my Dad’s William and Joseph Confluence chest pack (the comp pack) just to see how it works with the net holster. It was fine. In fact, with the right sized net, part of the backpack fits inside the hoop, and the net still lies nearly flat, mounted in the holster.
The design of the Smith Creek Net Holster is bulletproof, as it should be. It’s metal and nylon webbing, not plastic and polyester. Well done, Smith Creek.
I’m not quite sure why the net holster isn’t a more popular solution. I’ve never seen anyone else with one, but I try to stay away from large populations of other fishermen anyway, so what do I know?
Enjoy the day.
T R O U T B I T T E N