Shad are one of the best baits for catfish and catching them involved using a cast net.
Just like any other tool a cast net is a tool that when prepared and used properly will work great but when it has not been prepared properly, you may run into issues. Think of it like sharpening a knife before you use it. A dull knife will cut but a razor sharp knife will work so much better and make your life so much easier, right?
Cast nets are the same way. A cast net that has been properly “prepped” will throw much better and in turn will catch more bait. Not only will it be easier to throw but it will last longer as well and will help you catch more shad (and in turn you’ll catch more catfish).
I’ve come up with a process that works better than anything else for prepping a cast net, so keep reading…..
How To Prepare a Cast Net
Step 1: Identify The Parts of The Cast Net
Hand Line – The long rope that you attach to your wrist.
Lead Line – This is the rope around the bottom with the weights attached
Braille Lines –Pieces of heavier line that run from the yoke down to lead line
Net – The mesh around the outside that actually catches the fish
Step 2: Trim The Braille Lines
Take a pair of sharp scissors and trim each tag end of the braille line off, just a short distance past the knot (about 1/8″ of an inch).
While you are trimming the braille lines on the cast net, check the knots and make sure they are good and tight. If not, then add a small drop of super glue to each knot to make sure it holds really well.
Not trimming these lines will cause the lead line to tangle up when throwing and resetting the net. Not only is this frustrating but it often keeps the net from opening fully.
Step 3: Prepare Your Cast Net Soak
This is the most important part of preparing or “seasoning” a cast net. <— Tweet It
Soaking your cast net will make it much softer and easier to throw. Most people will soak their nets in the washing machine but I have a process that is much better and works much better.
Get some fabric softener. You can use any kind but the cheap stuff will do just as good as the expensive fabric softener for what we are going to do..
Get an insulated ice chest. I prefer to use a round water cooler, like the ones you see on the sidelines at football games, but any type of insulated cooler will work.
Add a couple of cups of fabric softener to the water (1 cup will work but I like to add 2 cups). This is based on about 10 gallons of water. If you are using a larger cooler then more fabric softener will be needed.
Fill the cooler about 3/4 of the way full with HOT water (enough to cover the net).
The water needs to be the hottest tap water available.
Put your cast net in the cooler and let it soak overnight.
The process of soaking the net in the insulated cooler will retain the heat from the water much longer time than the washing machine will and this will really help with softening the cast net and making it easier to throw. <— Tweet It
Step 4: Remove The Cast Net From The Soak
Remove the cast net from the water that it has been soaking in and discard of the water.
Take the net and shake some of the excess water out. Rinse with clean water (I use the water hose).
Step 5: Hang The Cast Net
I have used two different processes in the past, one has been stretching the net out in the grass and using nails to stretch it out, and the other has been hanging the net. I find that hanging them to stretch it works better (and is a LOT less work).
Hang a large nail somewhere higher than the length of your net (if you hold it up by the yoke you want the weights of the lead line OFF the ground).
Once you have a nail hung then take your net and slide the nail CAREFULLY through it just below the yoke so the bottom of the yoke will rest just above the nail, this is where it will hang and the yoke will support the net so the it does not tear.
Everything you read will tell you not to do this, but I honestly think it is the best way.
Step 6: Hang The Cast Net and Let It Dry
Let it hang (and stretch) until dry (longer if possible, I let mine hang over night again).
This process will make the net much softer and easier to throw so it will open up much easier. If you store your cast net for extended periods of time without using it and it begins to get stuff and Throwing a cast net is not a difficult process, it just takes a little practice and some patience to get the technique down. I truly believe that anyone can learn to throw a cast net with a little practice and some instruction.
Spending a little time up front to prepare your cast net will pay off by making it easier to throw and allowing it to open fully while throwing for shad. When your not opens fully you’ll catch more shad, that’s one of several ways you can catch more shad.
To get more in depth information on locating and catching shad for catfish bait check out the Catching Shad book.
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