Home Fishing Tips & Advice Can Cast Nets Catch Fish in Deep Water?

Can Cast Nets Catch Fish in Deep Water?

While seemingly straightforward in its design, cast nets are sensitive to both technique and location. For example; can a cast net catch fish in deep water?

Cast nets aren’t typically used for catching fish in deep water, they’re designed to catch either bait or light lures over larger fish found predominantly in deeper waters. However, they can be adapted for bottomless water bodies by using thicker casting material, increased diameters, and increased weights. This usually comes to using cast nets in 45 feet with about 7-foot mesh and 1.3 lbs per foot of lead.

A cast net (or a throw net) is a popular and time-tested fishing commodity dating back thousands of years. The name comes from the net-casting spider’s technique of using its’ legs as weights to entrap prey as it lands on the spider’s web. 

Cast Net Overview

Cast nets are fishing commodities composed of six basic parts; hand loop, horn, swivel, hand line, brails, and a lead line. While there have been several modifications in recent times, the general design of a cast net remained the same. That is, a circular meshwork supported by weights of one pound spaced one foot apart. 

Unlike other fishing equipment, cast nets do not follow the similar ‘hook, line, and center’ principle. You basically release a cast net with full force and in an open-faced manner into a body of water and wait for it to sink. Previously, cast nets would be made out of natural materials such as cotton. Recently, cast nets are made out of monofilaments such as nylon or threaded braids.

As the net sinks, the weights are pulled closer to each other. Eventually, the cast net entraps bait, fish, or any sea creature along its path. The retrieval clamp at the end of the net closes the cast net around the catch and the angler will feel a pull on his or her hand line. 

Beginners might be inclined to believe that there is no technique involved in casting a cast net. However, the net measures anywhere from 3 to 12 feet (or more). This also translates to more weight on the net and the net being heavier. Hence, if you’re a beginner, you might find yourself barely being able to lift the cast net let along throw it in the air.

Throwing a Cast Net in Deep Water

Problems With Throwing a Cast Net in Deep Water

Cast nets were originally designed, or at least primarily used, to catch bait in shallow waters. They are thus best recommended for casting in water bodies no more than 25 feet. Why?

For starters, given their primary purpose, cast nets need to entrap their targeted catch quickly. Bait and lighter fish can swim away faster than the weights can time in with most of the catch swimming from under the cast as the angler is tugging at it. 

In shallow water, there isn’t much room for the catch to escape from. Thereby ensuring bait is trapped in the meshwork.

Shallow waters also alleviate technique sensitivity while using a cast net – you just throw your net onto the water in a circular motion (pancake) and wait a while for it to sink. At the first sturdy (or sturdy enough) tug that you feel, pull at the cast net and you’ll have your catch. 

Deep waters are different. To start, the water is virtually endless, but the hand line isn’t. This limits the distance your cast net will sink to. When you feel a tug, you might pull at the cast net but your catch is less than what you saw from the surface of the water. The catch realized the net was moving and therefore tried to escape. Since the net didn’t close quickly enough, the catch moved out from under the net. 

Modifying Cast Nets to be Used in Deep Water

  • Specify the type of fish or bait you’re hoping to catch. The size of your meshwork doesn’t really matter unless you have a particular catch in mind. Some anglers prefer smaller meshworks whereas others might go with standard and non-custom sizes. 
  • Do not pull the at the hand line the very second you feel a tug. Try to visualize the cast net from the surface of the water to see whether its open face has closed completely or not. It might be helpful to have an estimate based on experience. This will ensure how long your net usually takes to close at its base completely. 
  • Use cast nets with a larger radius. Remember, a cast net is measured in terms of its radius and not always in its diameter. For example; a three-foot cast net is actually three feet in its radius and six feet in its diameter. For deeper water, go for larger cast nets (6-8 feet).
  • Line your net with heavier weights. Weight sizes range from 0.5 to as far as your cast net can withstand. It is ideal to keep the weights between 1.3 lbs to 2 lbs at most per foot of the cast net. A heaver net would be difficult to handle and a lighter one won’t close as fast.
  • If you’re hoping to catch bait, line your cast net with chum or anything to attract the bait much more efficiently

Materials Used for Cast Nets

Two of the most common materials cast nets are made up of are monofilaments and nylon. Although modern nets are built up of many materials (from grass to braided materials, etc). 

Monofilament cast nets tend to be more fragile than nylon nets. However, monofilament nets are usually cheaper and can be used repeatedly if taken proper care of. Nylon nets are sturdier and usually have a broader range.

Final Thoughts

Cast nets can be found in any anglers arsenal – and why wouldn’t they be? They’re probably some of the oldest known fishing commodities to have ever existed and little has changed over the years in their design and technique. Cast nets can be used in shallow and deep water, albeit with varied techniques and modifications. All in all, cast nets are versatile in their use and have been for decades at this point.