Koi Rescue
Phoenix Arizona

How To Use Cast Net For Catching Koi

throwing cast net

Info About Cast Nets

A cast net can be intimidating when you first try and use it, but with some practice, you can learn to throw them properly and they are great to use for catching koi and other types of fish.

Basically a cast net is a circle that has weights around the perimeter. It has lines that go through a hole in the center, and then out along the bottom of the net to the perimeter. Those lines will make the net collapse on itself when you pull the leash back in.

The nets are typically specified by their radius and mesh size. So a 4' net will open to 8 feet diameter.

Smaller nets like a 3 foot cast net are great for bait fish in shallow water, but when trying to catch a big koi, if you don't land the net perfectly on them, the koi will slip away.

Larger nets are great for short distances, like a 7' or 10' net can cover a lot of water in one throw, but the larger the net, the more weights around the perimeter. This means the it will be more difficult to throw any distance from you.

I have always preferred a 4' net. It seems to open enough so that you have a good chance at landing around a koi, but still light enough that I can throw it some distance. The typical leash that comes with a 4' net is a little short for what I do, and I often tie an extension to the leash so I can cast it further.

The mesh size is something to consider also. The tighter the mesh, the slower the net will sink in the water after it has landed. So a really tight mesh will take too long to sink and the koi will swim out from under the net and get away. A tight mesh like 1/4" is typically too tight of a mesh.

A mesh size of 1/2" or 3/4" is a bit too loose. Those type nets will sink fast, but the holes in them are so big that the koi will get their fins stuck in the net and after you catch one koi, you will spend 5 minutes trying to get them untangled from the net so you can cast again.

The mesh size I prefer is 3/8". It seems to be the right middle ground, big enough to sink fast, but small enough that the fin's don't get stuck that often.

how throw cast net

How To Throw The Cast Net

Imagine helping a kid put on a jacket. It is practically the same thing, just think of the net as the jacket, and the kid isn't standing still and you have to throw the jacket onto them.

To make your throw, start off by straightening out your net. Make sure it isn't twisted, the lines on the bottom aren't caught on anything etc. Also coil up the leash neatly.

If the net is too big for you to hold straight like this, then you can fold over the top portion and hold it in your right hand.

cast net leash slip knot

The leash has a slip knot, have that cinched on your left wrist and hold most of the rest of the coiled up leash in your left hand. Also in your left hand, hold up a piece of the outside edge of the net, that if facing away from you.

Next follow along that edge of the net from your left over to your right hand, and tuck a piece of the net under your thumb on your right hand.

So using the jacket analagy, you are holding up the jacket with the inside facing where you are about to throw.

target throwing cast net

Figure where you want to throw. If you can see a koi going in the water, try to figure where it is going and aim for a spot ahead of where they are swimming. Just like duck hunters don't shoot at birds, the shoot slightly in front of them to lead the target, we are going to do the same thing.

With your target area in mind, twist your body back a little bit and then with a circular motion, and your right arm mostly extended, make a twist and throw motion to launch your net.

twist as throw cast net to fish

Because of the twisting while you throw, the net will open up as it flies through the air and make a big circle.

follow through when throwing cast net ahead of fish

Don't just throw the net at your target, you need to have your arm follow through, so after the net leaves your hand, your arm continues after the release. When my dad taught me, he harped on this point the most and he is right -- something about following through with the throw works almost like magic.

cast net sinking in water

When the net lands on the water, you need to let it sink for just a moment. You are letting the net go down to the bottom so it surrounds the fish. But just as soon as the net hits the bottom, you need to do a quick and short yank on the leash. What the yank does is pull the edges of the net inward to collapse the net on itself and trap the fish inside the net.

If you wondering how long to wait to do the yank - guess what? You can feel the net sinking in the water. As it sinks, it makes little vibrations and those vibrations travel up the leash line to your hand so you can tell the moment the net is on the bottom. Very similar to using a string and 2 tin cans to make a telephone.

pull in fish with cast net

Pull the net in. It will look like a balled up mess.

after pull cast net

When you remove the fish from the net, make sure to turn away from the pond. Otherwise they fish will flop right back into the water and you have to catch them again.

Ready to give it a try? Get yourself a net, and then try practicing in your back yard. Helps if you have a pool, but you can practice tossing on a regular grass lawn. Its a bit of an art form, and accuracy is more important than strength. You can put things out there on the lawn and try and net them, or maybe have a friend roll a ball and then you toss the net on the ball.

Even if you don't know of a rescue coming up, you will want to get a net and start practicing. Most of the time when a rescue comes up, it is a sudden thing and you can find yourself at a pond just a few hours after getting notified. If you have practiced with your net, you will be ready when the time comes. The very first koi I rescued, I did 6 casts, and pulled in 6 koi.