A net is a net is a net, right? Its design entails simple tasks: the safe landing of fish, removal of garbage, and sometimes even to function as a wading staff in murky situations. The Fishpond Nomad series of nets are incapable of including more features than other nets on the market today, yet, they are one of the most beneficial, thought-out, and trip-saving improvements you can purchase.
These are some pretty bold claims, wouldn’t you say? Before I get too far, let me introduce myself- my name is Anton Pohl and I have been fly fishing for the last few years of my life on a strict, college-student budget. What might that entail, you ask? Everything from a hand-me-down vest, oversized waders, and the cheapest wading boots one could buy online ($50, and they have somewhat lasted all this time), to a DIY phone cord net retractor, fingernail-clipper nippers, and most importantly, a knockoff sling pack and small, wooden mesh net. Did I enjoy fishing around the country with this setup? You can bet your boots I did, all the way from the North Platte of WY, alpine lakes in RMNP, and the Black Hills of SD, to the Current River of MO and my favorite: the Driftless area of WI. It’s safe to say I got by with basic gear for quite some time.
Now the big question is this- why would I be head over heels about a net that costs 6 times more, and realistically, is still just… a net? Read the next few paragraphs below and I’ll give you the scoop*.
*(pun net intended)
Fishpond has been floating around in the fly fishing industry since 1999, but it wasn’t until 2013 that the Nomad nets came into fruition with the company by thepartnership of Kevin Best. Since then, the Nomad series have been an increasingly popular array of landing nets designed for multiple types of fishermen and fishing styles around the country.
The Nomad series of nets are built of a carbon fiber / fiberglass composite for both strength and durability, all the while keeping weight to a minimum. At less than a pound, the Nomad Emerger is surprisingly lightweight and balanced in the hand, even with the 13” handle and huge clear rubber bag. The handle is painted with a smooth rubberized coating, similar in feel and texture to a high end vinyl wrap. Also worth noting is the River Armor editions of the Emerger and Mid-Length nets, which feature a layer of Kevlar in the build for enhanced durability.
I thought I made it clear that this net is still designed to scoop things up like any other net could? Well, it is still a net at heart, but there are multiple features built into this net that justifies the higher price point of this net series. In general, the clear rubber net is one of the biggest improvements of a modern net; the benefits of not spooking fish as easily, less fin and hook entanglement, and greater durability are easy to see. Similarly, the bag is deep, at 12.5” (featured on the Native net), 15” for the Emerger and the other “mid-size” nets, and 19” on the larger Boat and El Jefe models.
Next comes the inherited qualities of the materials they are built from. Most nets float, but these nets are on another level: they are unsinkable. The woven, resin-coated compound creates a hollow, waterproof structure, creating a net that will never find its way to the bottom of the lake or river. On the flipside, however, I’d recommend that you have a good way of securing the net as it’s lightweight, buoyant nature allows for it to be taken by the current quite easily- the last thing an angler wants is to be running down the riverbank after their precious cargo.
Similarly, these nets feature uncharacteristically longer handles than others in the industry. This allows for a whole new method of storage options, whether it be slipped inside your wading belt, between your back and preferred bag, or even integrated through some packs (the Emerger Net meshes quite well with the Simms Freestone Ambidextrous Sling, might I add).
The Nomad series of nets are beautifully finished, each version featuring unique pattern options that are crisp, detailed, and of high quality. All of their nets are available in their original drab green/ carbon accented patterns, where others are also available in patterns such as Drift Camo, Tailwater, Native, Brown Trout, and the Kevlar-enhanced River Armor. Also worth noting is the UV-protected resin on all of the models, which prevents fade or discoloration over time. As aforementioned, the outer coating is smooth, glossy, and fairly slip resistant when wet, but as an added measure the RiverKoat handle is slightly rubberized to enhance grip- quite a nice aesthetic and functional touch.
Compared to the equivalently sized and priced Rising Brookie Net, the Emerger is a tenth of a pound less in weight due to the material difference, has a deeper and larger bag, a 3” longer handle, and is going to float better on the water. However, the Brookie is nearly 100% made in the USA, features a waterproof handle compartment, and is backed up by a lifetime warranty. Keep this in mind, however- once the compartment is filled with your favorite streamside drink, the net won’t float anymore! Overall, both nets are very capable for the price, but the lightweight carbon fiber design is what stands out as the most beneficial feature of not only the Emerger, but the entire Nomad series of nets in the Fishpond lineup.
The Emerger Net specifically featured in this review is, in my humble opinion, the perfect size for the everyday angler here in the Driftless and throughout the small to moderately sized rivers of the Midwest. Featuring a nearly 10” x 20” ovular profile and a 15” deep bag, it is large enough to safely and adequately scoop 20”+ lunkers, and be compact enough to not be noticed on a pack or wader belt. For those who fish to follow more traditional styling and hang their net from a release, the Native and Hand nets are viable options, with slightly smaller bags and significantly shorter handles. On the contrary, the Mid-length, El-Jefe, and larger nets are going to be suitable for larger rivers, drift boats, and guides who need a dedicated wading staff and are focused on having an extended reach and basket.
From my small, wooden, vest-hanging hand net to this larger, composite, pack-integrated landing net, I feel that the upgrade completely outweighs the price difference. Fly fishing, especially to a recent college-grad, can get overbearing in terms of the price you can pay for certain pieces of equipment, but I have no doubts when I say this is one of the most justifiable quality pieces of gear I will likely ever own. Get your hand on the Fishpond Nomad Emerger Net here.
Words by Anton Pohl
Photographs by Adam Levenhagen