After a few conversations with Bob, I knew the net I was to receive was big, but I must admit I was a little taken back by the size of the package that arrived at my home. Nevertheless, I opened it with excitement to see the piece of craftsmanship inside and was initially impressed by what I found.
Upon pulling the net out of the box my initial thought was something along the line of, “WOW, this thing is HUGE!” Never before had I seen a hand crafted wooden net with such impressive size! With a bow of 20” x 30”, a handle length of 36”, and a total length of 66”, you now know why it got the name Grande Ronde!
Regardless of my first impression and its impressive size, I must say that when I put it in hand for the first time, it was a great feeling piece! Not only did it feel good in the hand (proper proportions, well balanced), but it was a beautiful piece of artistry that was sure to catch the eye of anyone passing you by. Couple that with the fact that I am also a freelance photographer and take photos of my clients very serious, this would be a gorgeous piece to have in the shots.
Overall, you could say that my first impression was, “WOW, now that’s a net!”
I think it should be noted at this time that Fisknat has categorized the Grande Ronde as a boat net. While I believe this must be the ultimate wooden net for a boat netting big steelhead and other large gamefish, it needs to be noted that this net was not tested from a boat during my season of testing. Instead, it was tested in a bit more abusive atmosphere and is found to work just as well outside the boat.
I help operate the largest fly-fishing guide service on the southern shore of Lake Erie where our target species is Steelhead. Unlike other areas in the Great Lakes, most of our streams are best fished by walk and wade techniques as opposed to floating. With that in mind, we must carry our nets with us along with rods, reels, lunches and things of this sort. I will say from experience that it is nice to have a net with a big bow, deep bag, and a considerable reach.Those characteristics can often mean the difference between a successfully landed fish or the frustration that results from that one extra run that broke your client off. This net encompasses all of those things making it a lean, mean, fishing grabbing machine!
I also must say that while this net seemed big in the confines of my home, it was absolutely perfect on the stream for what I do day in and day out! I have always carried my net in hand while guiding and this net was to be treated the same. Without question, this net has been the best net I have used to date…not to mention the most beautiful!
As for the construction, I will say that it is an exceptional piece and is capable of copious amounts of abuse! I have broken more nets than you can imagine in my guide career and most were made of metal. I have snapped net bows on the stab by striking rocks on the bottom of the river in the heat of the moment, I have broke handles and bows on the lift, and had them snap after being stepped on by clients. I am happy to say that I have duplicated all of these scenarios with this net and it has survived all such incidences in a years worth of guiding!
One of the best attributes of this net is its new reinforced handle. I believe that this attention to detail is the backbone and strength of this net. The strength of this net is awesome having held multiple doubles at one time (all fish being between 25-30” in length). That is at times between fifteen and twenty pound of fish at times and this net handles it well!
Although I am extremely happy and impressed with the performance of this net, there is one thing that some may not like about the Grande Ronde, and that is size. If you are the kind of person not wanting to carry the net by hand, then a smaller net may be a better option. I personally hope to get some time with Fisknat’s San Juan Guide net or the Guide Pontoon net for this exact reason as I believe a direct comparison will be very healthy for those who cross over from floating to wading with any kind of frequency.
As with any sport, there are personal preferences and nets are no different. That being the case, I want to keep the focus squarely on what this net is, what it is designed for and how it can be used, and give it a score based on the use and abuse I personally witnessed.
My understanding is that this is a Steelhead net (or similar size species). It was designed to handle the beating that netting fish like this can bring and allow you to net them with relative ease. It is proven that this net is just as much at home both in the boat and out. Under those pretenses, I would give this net an overall review score of 9 out of a possible 10, making it a piece of gear I would forthrightly recommend to other anglers!
v Strong build, reinforced handle
v Great reach due to long handle
v Durable enough to take serious abuse
v Size well suited for boats
v Deep rubber bag that is hook/fish friendly
vBeautiful craftsmanship & artistry made in America
v Very large net; Can make hand carrying undesirable. If this is a concern, a smaller model may be worth looking into.
vPrice can be a deterrent. However due to the high level of craftsmanship, artistry, and strength, coupled with “Made in USA,” it is well worth the investment.
In closing, any angler who fishes for any length of time recognizes the need for a net that fits their scenario and target species. Fisknat has a selection of nets that fits just about any scenario and based on my opinion, should be considered a top-notch, high quality company focusing on hand crafted nets marked by strong functionality and a touch of artistry! I highly recommend Fisknat nets based on one year of hardcore field-testing abuse. In my opinion, “Fisknat is where it’s at!”
Patrick “Flybum” Robinson
Head Guide – Steelhead Alley Outfitters
Owner/Operator – Flybum Media Productions
Note: Fisknat provided this net for the purpose of this review. It did not make any compensation for this unbiased review and has no obligation to nor does it have any further business dealings with Patrick Robinson, Steelhead Alley Outfitters, or Flybum Media Productions at the time of this review.