What A Racket
I've never bothered with owning a landing net. It was just something extra to carry and I never saw a real need for one. I already owned a set of Lucid Fishing Grips so I could land any critters with teeth easily. Everything else I'd just tail grab or lip. Then last year while fishing for bass on the Great Lakes Kayak Fishing Tournament Series I lost two fish I desperately needed right next to the Slayer. I was crushed and I got no sympathy from my fellow anglers back at the landing. In fact many of them looked shocked that I didn't have a net on my kayak. After the event I went out shopping for a landing net. Turns out they are stupid expensive! So here's a fun DIY that works well, is easy to make, and is reasonably cheap.
First you need to find yourself an old tennis racket. You may even find one laying around the house. Next you need to get a net bag. Mine was salvaged from a broken net I found on the bottom of Devils Lake. The other item you see in the photo is a magnetic net release from Orvis. You DO NOT need this to make a racket net. I've just found it to be an extremely handy accessory. Also you'll need something to attach the net to the tennis racket. I used 20 pound Berkley Big Game because that's what I had lying around.
Next you have to remove the string on the racket. Destroying this racket was surprising fulfilling. I never much liked playing tennis in gym class growing up, so this just felt good. A quick tip? Make sure you cut the string free from the racket head over a garbage can. Otherwise those little pieces will be all over your floor and you'll find them for weeks.
Next orient the net bag and start sewing. It doesn't really matter where you start so don't get caught up in the will it be even mindset. It all works out once you get going. Remember that you want to pull each stitch tight as you go. Work your way around the racket and then tie off the last stitch. Finally stretch the net a few times with your hand to seat the net bag in place.
This net has worked out really well so far. I used a metal tennis racket, but if you used a wood racket it would even float! It's a great way to recycle that old racket and keep it out of the landfill. Since I found my net in the bottom of a lake this whole thing cost me nothing. If you have a racket but don't have a net bag you get one by following the affiliate link here. The extra fish you successfully land will make the 20 minute build time worth it.