By Craig Sandell © 2020
Musky season was one of some tackle changes for me. These changes
started with the use of VMS XHeavy hooks.
Because of the inherent sharpness of these hooks and their
penetrating power, I recognized that I would be tearing up the cloth
fabric net bag that has been graced by a good number of Musky over
the years. But which net to get?...
Anyone who has read my articles on
tackle and tactics knows that I am an advocate of getting first hand
insight from other Musky anglers rather than relying upon the
advertisements in catalogs or the sport shop spiel. That is exactly
what I did. I talked with folks who are using the Frabill coated net
and the Beckman Fin Saver coated net to get some informed
did not consider a cradle because
of the sharpness of the hooks and because a cradle is really a
two man operation and, like most Musky anglers, I am fishing
alone more often than not.
Both of these nets fit the bill relative to resistance to penetration by
the Owner Hook, so the decision came down to ease of use and fish and angler
The Frabill net has a traditional large mesh bag. The handle is light
weight and the rim is reasonably sturdy. The Musky, when in the net, will
have its body bent by the net by virtue of the fish’s weight pulling down on
the lowest part of the bag. It is easier to remove tangled hooks from the
larger mesh but the stress upon the fish is greater.
|The Beckman Fin Saver has a dual
mesh design. Overall the mesh is smaller but the bottom of the net
is designed to flatten out with the weight of the fish. This allows
the fish to sit comfortably in the net in a manner similar to that
of a cradle. The net handle and frame combine to make a sturdy net,
however, the weight of the net is a bit heavier than what most
anglers are used to…especially when you are alone fighting a fish
and doing the "Musky Dance" as you try to lead the fish to the net
with your rod hand while maintaining the ability to strategically
remove the net if the fish bolts.
The smaller mesh also
makes it tougher to untangle hooks and free the Musky from the lure.
Bottom line…both nets have draw backs and selling points…I chose the
Beckman and here is why:
I really liked the bag configuration concept and so did the other
Musky anglers with whom I consulted. Having a nice 43 inch fish in
the net reinforced the belief that the decision was a good one. The
hook entanglement in the smaller mesh was a problem but, ever since
I had a hook driven into my hand by a thrashing Musky when I stuck
my hand in the net to free it, I have adopted the practice of
cutting embrangled hooks with my compound bolt cutter…so net/hook
entanglement was a minor consideration. I felt that the extra weight
of the net was manageable for me…you may have a different
perspective for yourself.
A Parting Word
Both of these nets are good quality nets from manufacturers that
stand behind their product. As more Musky anglers turn to the
pre-sharpened hooks from Owner or from VMC Rapala, the need for
coated nets that resist puncture of bag mesh becomes acute. If you
are considering a new net for the coming season, you can probably
see them at your local sport shop or at one of the Musky shows that
start in January. I would encourage you to, before buying, talk with
other Musky anglers and get the benefit of their experience with the
net you are considering. When you are on the water with a fish
tugging at your line, it is too late to discover that your net has
draw backs to its efficient use.
Don’t get sucked in by hype or name
endorsements by Musky notables…make an informed decision not a gut
Author's Note - Since I purchased the Beckman
Fin Saver net, I have had the opportunity to use it quite a few times. I
am very pleased with the lack of stress that is put on the fish
when it is in the net. However, I have come to realize that the
weight of the net makes it very hard to handle when fishing by
one's self. I have been successful netting fish when fishing by
myself but it was a real struggle. I firmly believe that the
potential for a bad net job when fishing by one's self is very
I will be buying another lighter
net to use when I am fishing alone. I have not decided upon a
net as of yet but it will certainly be one with a coated bag.
Many of my fellow "Musky Wizards" have suggested that I look at
the Frabill net and I will certainly give them a look.
2013 Update - Well, I went
and bought a Frabill net to use when I am fishing by myself and
it worked very well. But then the thought struck me...would the
Beckman Fin Saver bag fit on the Frabill frame? I carefully took
the bags off each net frame and then strung the Beckman bag onto
the Frabill frame. It worked very well...I now had a Musky
friendly net bag on a net frame I could use handily.