Best Cast Nets Reviewed: Catching Your Own Live Bait

I was fishing north of Grande Isle in Louisiana. I was working a salt flat with the moving tide for reds. My Cajun Thunder popping cork was allowing me to see a minnow swimming around, but it wasn’t long before another monster bent my rod.

This pattern held all morning.

My secret? My secret?

Cast nets are the best way to catch fresh, live bait. We have everything you need.

Here you will find an in-depth buying guide and reviews of the best cast nets.

A glance at the top cast nets

  • Bait Buster Professional Grade Cast Net –Best Cast Net for Most Anglers
  • Betts Old SaltBest Budget Cast Net
  • Ahi USA 200 Series Cast-Fishing Net– Best Cast Net for Beginners
  • Ahi USA 600 Pro Series – Best Cast Net for Smaller Anglers
  • Calusa Castanet – Best Premium Cast Net

Reviewed the Best Cast Net

Bait Buster Professional Grade Cast Net- Best Cast Net for Most Anglers

Betts 8PM Old Salt Mono Cast Net Multi-coloured, 8ft

Radius:5′-7′-7′-8′-9′-9′-10′, 10′, 12′

Weight per radius foot:1.5 lbs

Mesh3/8″ square

Bait Buster’s nets have a reputation for being exceptional in quality and are well-known along the Gulf coast.

There are many sizes and radiuses available, but 3/8-inch is the best size for general use.

These nets are made from strong and supple mono. The braille lines work well without tangling. They don’t give the test strength, so I’m not certain what they are made of. However, legions upon legions of admirers can confirm that they are strong.

While any net can be torn if it is caught on something, these nets are very durable.

They open well with six panels and sink like stones.

The net is guaranteed against defects before it touches the water. After delivery, inspect it carefully, lay it out in your yard and then give it a few casts on dry ground. Bait Buster can fix any problems you may find.

Pros

  • Construction of excellent quality
  • 1.5 lbs of lead per foot
  • Well open
  • Sinks quickly
  • Excellent warranty against defects

Cons

  • Expensive

Betts Old Salt- The Best Budget Cast Net

Betts 8PM Old Salt Mono Cast Net Multi-coloured, 8ft

Radius:8

Weight per radius foot:1.12

Mesh:3/8

Betts Old Salt is a well-known net that many anglers have. These cast nets are well-priced and have a reputation of an opening well.

Betts offers a wide range of mesh sizes and nets, but I prefer the 8-foot radius, 3/8″ net. It’s slightly more difficult to throw than the 6-foot model but it delivers better performance.

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Although the Bait Buster is not as strong in terms of construction, the monofilament, braille, and lead lines are strong and secure. Once you’re comfortable with the net, it opens beautifully.

Although it is a little lighter than I would like per radius foot, it sinks well enough to make casting for beginners a lot easier.

Overall, the net is great at a fair price and the company stands behind their product in case of a problem or defect.

Pros

  • Quality and construction
  • Well open
  • Sinks quite quickly
  • Excellent warranty against defects
  • Casting for beginners is easy

Cons

  • It’s slower than I would like, as it uses 1.12 pounds per radius foot.

Cast Fishing Net Ahi USA 200 Series – Best Cast Net for Beginners

Ahi USA 200 Series Cast Fishing Net, Clear, 3-Feet (CN-203)

Radius:3′, 3,5′, 4′ 4.5′ and 7′

Weight per radius foot:75 lbs

Mesh:3/8

Ahi’s 200 series is my favorite small cast net because it’s lightweight, easy to throw, and reasonably priced.

The Ahi USA 200 lineup is available in radiuses of as little as 3 feet or as big as 7 feet. It shares a 3/8″ mesh that is ideal for catching most baits.

Although the 200 is not a six-panel net, it casts and opens well. However, it’s not as good as some of our more expensive options.

It’s also not going to sink as fast as other lead-based products, at.75 lbs per radius foot.

So, why is there so much love?

Cast nets are a great way to get started in throwing. The weight, radius, and weight of the cast net will all affect your throw. The Ahi 200 is the easiest to learn with.

It’s not as fast as the Bait Buster in sink rate but it can get you started in shallow water, which is where it’s best.

The Ahi 200 is a great choice if your goal is to learn how to cast or if strength and ability are important.

Pros

  • Construction and quality are excellent
  • Well open
  • Casting for beginners is very simple
  • Available in very small sizes

Cons

  • It’s slower than I would like, as it only uses.75 lbs of lead per radius foot.

Ahi USA 600 Pro Series- Best Cast Net for Smaller Anglers

Ahi USA 600 Pro Series 6 Panel Cast Net

Radius:5′-6′, 7’, 7’, 10’, and 12’

Weight per radius foot:1.35

Mesh:1/4″

Ahi USA’s 600 Pro Series cast net is a great choice for experienced users. It offers top-quality construction with a greater radius and mesh.

It’s great for larger baits than shrimp, finger mullet, or minnows. The 600 can also be used to net menhaden, hand-length, and other large baits. It’s well-tied, carefully knotted, and a great alternative to any other options.

Cast net lovers who prefer a lighter net will appreciate the 1.35 lb lead per radius foot. This net strikes a delicate balance between sink rate and castability. The Ahi 600 is a good option if you prefer a heavier net but are concerned about the weight.

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The six-panel design is easy to open and the braille lines are not tangled for most people. This net is a good choice for deepwater because of its larger mesh.

The Ahi 600 is a great choice if you are looking for a professional-level net.

Pros

  • Construction of excellent quality
  • Well open
  • Available in large sizes
  • Sinks quickly
  • It is a perfect caster because of its lighter weight

Cons

  • Expensive

Calusa Castanet- Best Premium Cast Net

Radius8′, 10’, and 12’

Weight per radius foot:1.5 lb

Mesh:3/8″, 1/2″ and 5/8″

Calusa castanets are considered the best on earth and the preferred choice for anglers who require exceptional performance each throw.

Calusa’s nets are made from high-quality copolymer monofilament and are hand-made. The six-panel design of Calusa’s nets is flawless, resulting in exceptional castings and perfect openings.

Strong mesh in various sizes reduces the weather quickly and is weighed down with 1.5 pounds of lead per radius foot. This can quickly get heavy, especially for larger radiuses. It is not recommended for beginners.

Expert hands can make it seem like anything is comparable in terms of distance, perfect circles, and sinking.

The downside?

Excellence is not cheap.

Pros

  • Construction of premium quality
  • Perfectly opens
  • Available in large sizes
  • Sinks quickly
  • Available in larger mesh sizes

Cons

  • Expensive

How to Select a Cast Net Newly Cast?

Cast net radius is more than you might think

The radius is a much more important indicator of a cast net’s size than its capacity to expand fully. This is something that experienced users will be able to attest to.

Remember that the radius will be half the size of the open area!!

It is a mistake to try to find the largest net possible.

Net size has a significant impact on performance, not only in terms of ease of use and time taken to perfect technique.

To throw this large net correctly, you need to have a real skills.

Radius and water depth

Cast nets are dependent on the lead weights around their circumference to sink quickly. As I will explain below, the rate they fall through water is directly affected the mesh size.

Fish will try to avoid a net that sinks quickly. They may find it difficult to escape in shallow water. However, they can do so in deeper waters.

In this sense, larger nets are more effective than smaller ones. The rule of thumb is that a net will work best in water as deep or lower than its radius. A 6-foot network is best in water 6 to 6 feet deep.

However, this doesn’t mean you can’t use cast nets in deeper waters. But you will find that the size of your cast net matters.

Why not get the largest net possible?

Radius and empty weight

Large nets can quickly become heavy and require a precise technique to cast.

Fast-sinking nets usually have 1.5 pounds of lead per radial foot. A quick calculation will show you that a 10-foot net weighs in at around 15 pounds.

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Most people find throwing a 15-pound net properly difficult. If you aren’t strong enough and skilled technically, it won’t be easy to throw.

A smaller net, which is lighter and easier to throw, will yield better results than one of a larger size.

Radius and total weight

You’ve chosen a net you feel comfortable with, watched it drop into the water in a circle above a school menhaden, and then pulled your line. Only to find that your net was full of fish between 10-12 inches.

For larger bait, a bigger mesh is better.

Amazing, right?

Let’s do some quick math. A 6-foot net has been chosen. It weighs about 9 pounds empty. Now, there are 20 pounds of struggling fish.

Start lifting your net from the water, and you will feel the full weight.

Is it too much? It is probably not.

It’s something you should keep in mind.

Mesh size

For small baits, the small mesh is ideal.

Mesh sizes are a compromise between two competing priorities.

A net with a larger mesh will sink faster, covering the fish underneath it more quickly. This is a crucial consideration that you should remember.

Smaller mesh, on the other hand, traps more bait and fish. The larger the gap, the more mesh.

There are two methods to measure mesh sizes. There are two types of mesh sizes: a standard square and a stretched or diagonal.

Fry nets can be made for small shrimp and minnows with mesh sizes up to 3/16 inches. Although larger fish will be caught with smaller mesh than with larger options, the reverse is true.

You don’t need to worry if you only require minnows or tiny shrimp.

It’s very common to use 3/8″ square mesh. This is a good mid-ground for most castnet users. It is perfect for baits between 3 and 4 inches in diameter. This covers a lot, so you can fish for anything from shrimp to shad.

You can use 1/2″ to 1 1/4″ mesh for larger baits. This is great for large baits such as mullet and big menhaden. But shrimp and shad can swim right through it!

Weight

Cast nets work only because of their circumference.

As the net spins through the air, all that lead opens it up, and it’s the one that sinks the fastest. This creates a trap for bait.

The good news should be weighed with 1.5 pounds per radius foot to get the performance you desire. It will still work but won’t sink as fast as you would like.

Cast net enthusiasts love a lighter net because it makes the technique more enjoyable.

Last Thoughts

While we cannot tell you which cast net will be best for you, we can say that all of the nets in our list work well once you learn how to throw them.

Our list has a net for everyone, from novices to experts.

We hope this article helped you choose your next net. If not, we would love to hear about it.

Leave a comment below

Lewis Mark is a vastly experienced fly fisher. His encyclopedic knowledge of fly tying has led to start blog on fishing. He also review Fishing equipment based on his knowledge and experience.