Looking for the best cast net? We have you covered whether you are a beginner looking to get started or a seasoned fisherman. You will find a complete guide to what makes a good cast net as well as a complete list of choices from the best cast brands.

When the coastal Gulf of Mexico is your home fishing waters you almost certainly have a few bait casting nets among your gear. Personally, I grew up cast netting for both shrimp and shad and continue to do so today. There is nothing quite like waking up early to head out and cast for a limit of shrimp to be used as both bait and dinner later that evening.

When the shrimp aren’t running there is always Shad we can rely on for bait as well. Whatever you are casting for, it is a great experience to be able catch both food and bait when heading out to the waterways. Having used countless cast nets over the years I have learned what works best for me as well as what to look for in a great cast net.

Aside from the mesh size, weight, and nets size, you learn quickly that not all cast nets are made with the same quality and durability. I have even found that despite similarities between nets, sometimes they just don’t throw the same or lay quite as flat when landing. To learn more about how to find the best cast net for you needs, whether that’s shrimp, shad, mullet or anything else be sure to check out the guide below.


 

Complete Guide To Cast Nets: How To Choose Your Net

There isn’t much to the design of a cast net but the few things you do need to keep in mind will ensure you get a net that suits you best. You need to consider both your ability and the bait you intend on casting for. You want to be able to throw the cast net effectively getting the full spread out of a throw without too much effort.

Buying a net that is too large or too heavy for you to throw more than a few times is no doubt a mistake that most have made. Who doesn’t want to be able to throw a 16 foot net in order to maximize the bait you catch per cast. This isn’t always realistic but the good news is when you start with the appropriate size and master your throw you can easily begin to increase the size you are able to throw.

Cast Net Construction


Cast nets consist of a few different pieces which are available in a variety of options for different types of bait fish and casting condition. The different components that nets are made up of are the net mesh, lead line around the the perimeter of the net mesh which the weights are attached to, and the horn at the center of the net mesh which which slides up and down a braille line allowing the net to open and close.

The braille line is what the actual net mesh is attached to and the hand line attaches to the braille line. If you haven’t already guessed, the caster will secure the net by the handline when casting out using it to both retrieve it and avoid losing it to the water.

Cast nets are also constructed in the two different techniques listed below. Each method has its benefits which can be considered when you are making you cast net purchase.

    best cast net diagram

  • BULLS-EYE CAST NET: Constructed by sewing netting strips in concentric circles around the horn of the net with each sewn circle gathered at the seam to create an elliptical net. This net construction is cheaper to manufacture which usually makes it more affordable compared to the pie panel cast net.
  • best cast net construction

  • PIE PANEL CAST NET: This nets is made by sewing triangular net panels together which allows the net to lie flatter on the bottom which can be more effective at sealing in the bait. This method of construction is typically more labor intensive and more costly to manufacture.

Below are a few things that are important considerations when choosing a cast net. Mesh size and nets size are going to be two of the most important things you need to consider. You also need to consider local regulations as well.

 

Mesh Size & Bait Size

When choosing a cast net the first thing you will start with is a nets mesh size. The mesh size is determined by the size of bait or fish you are after. A mesh size too small will catch unwanted bait, too large will allow bait to get away.

Choosing the smallest mesh size possible will ensure you catch the maximum amount of bait or fish but may also catch small unwanted sizes. Going too large in mesh size can run the risk damaging or even killing the bait fish if net gills them.

  • 1/4 Inch Mesh – These are really for catching very small baits like ghosts minnows and smaller shrimp. These sink slowly which can be an issue in deep water.
  • 3/8 Inch Mesh – This is a good all-around size for catching bait. It will catch small shad and it is great for shrimp. You will have fewer gill problems with fish. The only downside is you may still catch lots of very small bait.
  • 1/2 Inch Mesh – The larger the mesh the faster the net sinks. If you are after large bait size and don’t want to use bait fish smaller than a few inches long this is a great size to start with.
  • 5/8 Inch Mesh and up – This mesh size range is very fast sinking, when bait is really deep and you are after larger specimens you should usually be reaching for a mesh size the is 5/8″ or larger.

Ultimately you want to use the largest size possible that doesn’t gill the fish. The reason you want the largest possible mesh is that the larger the mesh the faster it will sink with the given weight, catching more bait before they can escape. Use the table below to get an idea of the best mesh size for a cast net may be for shrimp, mullet, or other bait fish.

Mesh SizeBait SizeCommon Bait
3/16"1"-3"(Small Bait) - Shrimp, Minnows, Shad
1/4"1"-3"(Small Bait) - Shrimp, Minnows, Shad, Sardine
3/8"3"-6"(Regular Size Bait) - Shad, Shrimp, Pin Fish, Threadfin, Scaled Sardine( White Bait/Green Backs), Menhaden, Ballyhoo, Small Mullet
1/2"6"-9"(Regular Size Bait) - Large Shrimp, Pin Fish, Threadfin, Scaled Sardine( White Bait/Green Backs), Menhaden, Ballyhoo, Small Mullet
5/8"9"-12"(Regular Size Bait) - Large Shrimp, Pin Fish, Threadfin, Scaled Sardine( White Bait/Green Backs), Menhaden, Ballyhoo, Small Mullet
3/4"10"-12"(Large Size Bait) - Large Shrimp, Pin Fish, Threadfin, Scaled Sardine( White Bait/Green Backs), Menhaden, Ballyhoo, Small Mullet
1"10"+Large Fish

 

Net Size/Radius

When selecting a net size or radius, I often see folks recommending the largest nets even to beginners. While having a large net is wonderful for maximizing the amount of bait you can catch, this is only good if you can actually throw the net properly, achieving full spread.

Large nets are heavy and cumbersome which makes them quite challenging to throw for beginners. Ability to throw the net is only thing you should consider but you should also consider the environments you are casting in as well as local regulations. Most recreational nets can be found in sizes ranging from 4 ft all the way up to 12 ft.

For kids, the best cast net to start out with is going to be a 4 ft net or if you can find one, a 3.5 ft. I learned quickly on a 4 ft net as a child and quickly moved up from there. For young adults and up I think 6 ft is the best cast net size as you will have an easier time learning and you can graduate up as you get better. You can also keep the 6 ft as a back up and for tight areas.

 

Weight Per Foot

A cast nets weight is measure in pounds per radius foot. In general they will be offered in 3/4 lb, 1 lb and 1.5 lbs per radius foot. The weight is added to the lead line spaced in equal increments around a cast net’s perimeter. The final weight of the net will depend on this rated weight and the radius of the net.

In general the heavier the net the faster it will sink which is what you want in a good cast net. However, you should always keep in mind that the heavier net will take more work and energy to throw over and over again. Choose the heaviest net you can comfortably throw.

 

Net Material

A cast net is typically found listed in two different materials which are monofilament and nylon. There is some confusion around these two materials that should be addressed and that is monofilament is just line that is made from extruding a fiber type, which could be various forms of plastic including nylon, through tiny hole to make the line.

The benefits of monofilament are the cheap costs to manufacture and the small diameter of line the process can achieve while maintaining a uniform integrity over the length of the line. Other benefits include the various polymer formulas available including flurocarbon, known by its name brand Dacron, which is very similar to Nylon but superior in its abrasion resistance, optical density making it less visible, and its density and ability to resist UV degradation.

  • Monofilament: As state above, monofilament is simply any synthetic fiber, usually in the plastic, that is melted and extruded through a small nozzle. The different fibers include, nylon, Dacron, Spectra, and Dyneema. When cast nets are marketed as monofilament they are likely a material other than nylon, but it is best to contact the manufacturer if you wish to know specific material the net is made from to ensure it is not nylon.
  • Nylon: The first synthetic fiber available to fishermen, Nylon was developed by Dupont in 1938 and released shortly after that. Nylon is inexpensive which makes it the most affordable option to fisherman and is generally durable though it often thought of as inferior compared to something like Dacron or other fibers.

    Nylon is not as dense which makes it more buoyant thus sinking slower, and less resistant to abrasion. Nylon is susceptible to sunlight or UV degradation which diminish a cast nets strength over time. The benefit of Nylon is it is usually made in large diameter lines and while it may not resits abrasions as well, it may survive breaking on reefs and rocks better.

 

Final Thoughts & Tips When Choosing a Cast Net

That was a lot of information to digest and sometime too much information can leave you stuck so when you set out to find the best cast net for you just consider these quick quick questions and go from there. That will make your decision a bit easier.

    >What is my budget?
  1. What is my skill level and casting ability?
  2. Do I intend on sticking with the sport.

These simple questions will help you evaluate the size net you should choose based on your abilities. You will also narrow down your selection based on your budget and whether you plan on making a lasting investment in high quality nets that will hold up for years to come. You may just need something cheap to keep on hand for the few times a year you find yourself casting for bait.

Now the easy part, browse some of the best bait casting nets on the market below and get out there.


 

The Best Cast Nets for Shrimp, Shad, and More – 2018 Quick Reviews

Below are some of the best cast nets on the market. You will find nets both large and small made for beginners as well as professional fisherman looking to invest in the best and most durable gear out there. Since there isn’t much variation in nets, the reviews will be short and to the point.

 

CALUSA CAST NETS


Calusa Cast Nets are one of the best large cast nests on the market. They are durable co-polymer monofilament nets made with a six panel construction reinforced at both the lead line and the top and a very strong hand lines for pulling up large catches. These are made by hand in Thailand with care and precision. These are excellent nets for deeper casting as they are made with 1.5 lbs of lead per ft so they will sink nice and fast and throw very far if needed.

If you haven’t thrown premium nets before the first thing you will notice is a cast net that feels softer, throws easier, and lies flatter than most nets available. This is due to the high quality netting material and the fine fish construction. These soft nets open up nicely on throws allowing maximum area coverage. If you want to invest in a premium net this is a top pick.

Key Features

  • Size Options: 8′-12′
  • Mesh Options: 3/8th, 1/2, 5/8th inch
  • Construction: Panel
  • Material: Monofilament

 


 

CRACKER CAST NETS

best cast net for shrimp
Cracker Nets are another premium option net available from the Calusa Trading Co. These are very much like the Calusa but are responding to customer feedback they introduced the Crack to provide a more affordable option. Basically you get the Calusa net construction with more size options at a better price.

They are able to provide this net at a better price by having it manufactured in China using slightly more affordable materials as well. Compared to the Calusa, The Cracker does not include the additional reinforcement, a slightly smaller horn, and slightly lighter weight 80lb braille line as opposed to the Calusa’s 100lb. An amazing deal for such a well crafted net.

Key Features

  • Size Options: 6′-12′
  • Mesh Options: 1/4, 3/8th, 1/2, 5/8th, 1 1/2 inch
  • Construction: Panel
  • Material: Monofilament

 


 

BETTS SUPER PRO CAST NET

Betts nets are one of the most recognized cast net brands and have a large array of cast nets available but the Super Pro is the best net in their lineup. It is manufactured with all of the features you’d expect in a premium net including mono line, panel construction, and additional weight.

The Super Pro is designed with superior materials and knot construction out of other nets in their line. These nets are a great entry into premium cast nets if you don’t quite have the budget to purchase a Calusa or Cracker. This net is a bit stiffer so if you are used to a softer feel in a net just condition the net to get a better feel out of it.

Key Features

  • Size Options: 6′-12′
  • Mesh Options: 3/16, 1/4, 3/8th, 1/2, 5/8th inch
  • Construction: Panel
  • Material: Monofilament

 


 

BETTS OLD SALT PREMIUM CAST NET

Betts Old Salt is one of the most popular nets around and many fisherman use this because of its affordability and durability. With a price point in the sweet spot and construction that will out last the competition of comparable cast nets the Old Salt is proven to provide great casts over and over without wearing out.

Most people feel choose the Old salt because they feel that they are getting a great value with in a premium quality net. With its circular construction and 1lb of weight per ft they can save on costs while still providing the quality materials. This is a great choice for those looking for premium nets that are affordable and lasting.

Key Features

  • Size Options: 4′-12′
  • Mesh Options: 3/8th, 1/2,
  • Construction: Circular
  • Material: Monofilament

 


 

BAIT BUSTER PROFESSIONAL CAST NETS

This Bait Buster Net is another premium cast net that is outstandingly constructed with durable mono mesh, 1.5lbs per ft of weight. This is great for deeper water as it will sink nice and fast. This nets stacks up to be a bit better the the Betts Super Pro and comparable to the Calusa nets in quality. If you have tried other nets and you are looking for something new this is a great net to own.

Key Features

  • Size Options: 5′-12′
  • Mesh Options: 3/8th, 1/2 inch
  • Construction: Panel
  • Material: Monofilament

 


 

HURRICANE CAST NET

For those of you just starting out, the Hurricane Cast Net is one of the best beginner cast nets due to its size and affordability as well as being packaged with great instructions on casting. At 5 ft just about any teen or adult can pick this net up and start practicing. It also has a versatile 3/8th inch mesh for catching a wide variety of bait types.

AS with anything in the budget realm, steer clear of rocky casting grounds and oyster beds as the net isn’t as durable as premium options out there. Other than that, just about anyone should be able to pick this net up and get some bait. There is a 4 ft option of this net that is made with nylon instead of monofilament if you are looking for something smaller.

Key Features

  • Size Options: 4′-5′
  • Mesh Options: 3/8th inch
  • Construction: Circular
  • Material: Monofilament or Nylon

 


 

SOUTH BEND CAST NETS

The South Bend cast net is another great option for beginners and one of the best cast nets for kids as it is available in some of the smallest sizes available. For kids you can get the 3ft or 3.5 ft net and let them start practicing. Its cheap, well made, and a great choice to start learning with.

The monofilament net is also available in several larger sizes for adults looking to pick up a cheap cast net to try it out. This net should serve anyone looking to cast for bait well and last more than a season if care is taken.

Key Features

  • Size Options: 3′-7′
  • Mesh Options: 3/8th inch
  • Construction: Circular
  • Material: Monofilament

 


 
We understand there are a ton of options out there and they can all be very similar or very different. If you are still left with question, please leave us a comment and we will put you on the right track. Feel free to leave us your top pick as well, we may even add them to the list!