Choose the right cast net and your quest to catch bait will be much easier. Choose the wrong one and you’ll have to work much harder (or you might not catch any shad at all).
Using the right tool makes a difference with any job and it’s true when catching shad also.
You wouldn’t try to drill a hole with a hammer, using the wrong cast net is no different. Using the wrong net will slow down your results getting bait or at times make it impossible to catch shad.
There are times when the net you use won’t make much difference. But there are times when the wrong net will make it very difficult, or even impossible to catch shad.
If you’ll use the right tools at the right time catching shad will be much easier.
Before I get into the specifics on choosing a cast net, it’s important to understand the different parts of a cast net. As you learn about how the size and weight of each part impacts your’e ability to catch shad, this is critical.
Parts Of a Cast Net
How To Choose a Cast Net (And Get The Right One)
Again the wrong tools at certain times will mean no bait. This is especially true in the winter.
Here are some notes that summarize the information covered in the podcast as well as links to some cast nets online. Make sure you keep this information in mind before you buy your first cast net (or your next one).
Here’s a summary of the information covered in the podcast.
1. Check Your Local Laws
Make sure it is legal to use a cast net to catch shad and learn what the largest size net you can use is.
2. Choose The Right Size Cast Net
Get the largest legal size you can throw in your state.
3. Nylon Or Monofilament Cast Net, Which Is Better?
Mono does not absorb water and it tangles less than monofilament. Monofilament sinks faster in the water than nylon. Always buy nets made of monofilament. Monofilament is less visible in the water also.
4. Stay Away From “Gimmicks”
You don’t need rings or throwers or any extra junk to help you throw. Just buy a plain cast net and stay away from nets that have these gimmicks built into them and by all means don’t get suckered into buying one of these items from a third part and adding it to your cast net.
5. Choose The Right Mesh Size
This is the size of the spacing of the mesh in the net. Mesh size impacts the size of baitfish that you can catch and how quickly the net sinks in the water.
- 1/4 Inch Mesh – Stay away from these. These are really for catching very small baits like ghosts minnows. These sink really slow which will be an issue in deeper water.
- 3/8 Inch Mesh – This is a good average size for catching bait. It will catch small shad and you will have fewer issues with fish being “gilled” (their heads stuck in the net). You’ll catch bigger shad and all of the smaller shad with this mesh size. This is a good mesh size for when the bait is not in deeper water and if you want smaller baits. The biggest problem with a net this size is you will still catch lots of very small shad (which is why I don’t use a 3/8 inch mesh).
- 1/2 Inch Mesh – The larger the mesh the faster the net sinks. Smaller shad will get gilled in the net and some will swim through the net. This is the smallest net size I throw because I prefer not to use the shad smaller than a few inches long. When bait is not really deep a 1/2 inch mesh is my choice.
- 5/8 Inch Mesh – This will sink faster than the 3/8 or 1/2 inch mesh. More smaller shad will get gilled and swim through the net. When bait is really deep a 5/8” mesh is my choice.
Nets with mesh sizes that are larger than these sizes listed are available but these are the sizes you really need to know about.
6. Choose The Right Weight
Weight is measured in pounds per foot.
The pounds per foot impacts how fast the net sinks. This is amount of weight per foot of braille line.
- Heavier nets sink faster but are more work to throw.
- Lighter nets sink slower and are less work to throw.
The Size and Weight Of Your Cast Net Matters!
- Get the largest legal size you can throw in your state.
- If there are no rules use at least 7 Ft or 8 Foot.
- The bigger the net the better, especially when bait is deeper
The Best Cast Net Choices:
- 3/8” Mesh .75 Lbs Per Foot – When bait is in shallower water is more than sufficient, you just have to deal with catching all of the smaller “button” shad.
- 1/2” Mesh 1.0 Lbs Per Foot – This is the minimum I throw. It eliminates catching all the small shad and has a good sink rate. This is a good net for the majority of the year.
- 5/8” Mesh 1.5 Lbs Per Foot – This will sink the fastest, smaller shad will swim through but it will sink faster due to the combination of the mesh and weight. This is the best option for catching shad in deeper water.
For brands I prefer “Bait Buster” for higher end nets. These are handmade nets and open really well. The “Bait Buster” cast nets have an exclusive feature that that allows for easier repair of the Braille lines as well.
Bait Buster Cast Nets, My “Go To” Nets
Bait Buster is my “go to” brand for higher end cast nets. These nets are hand made so they throw better than the inexpensive nets. Even though they cost a little more up front they save me a lot of money in the long run because of their unique “dragon head swivel”. Bait Buster nets are also hand made and throw really well. They’re the best cast nets I’ve ever used.
This design allows you to quickly and easily replace braille lines when they get broken (and they will get broken).
Cast Nets For Warmer Months (General Purpose Cast Net)
- Good Option: 3/8” Mesh .75 Lbs Per Foot
- Better Option: 3/8 “ Mesh 1.0 Lb Per Foot
- Best Option: 1/2 “Mesh 1.0 Lbs Per Foot
For The Coldwater Period (Winter)
- 1/2” Mesh 1.5 Lbs Per Foot
- 5/8” Mesh 1.5 Lbs Per Foot
Once you’ve got the right cast net make sure to take some extra time and get it ready for first time use. You’ll catch more bait and the net will last longer also.
Catching Shad For Catfish Bait
Learning how to locate and catch shad is essential to targeting blue catfish, having the right net will help you catch more bait and learning how to locate shad will also help you catch more catfish because blue catfish are a lot like teenage boys.
To get more in depth information on locating and catching shad check out the How To Catch Shad ebook from Catfish Edge. The How To Catch Shad ebook covers everything you need to know about locating and catching shad in simple easy to follow instructions based on my experience as a pro catfish guide and one of the many Catfish Edge “How To Catch Catfish” products.
The Catfish Edge podcast is available for download in iTunes. Click here to Subscribe.