Frabill Net With Custom Grip

Frabill nets are one of the best values in fly fishing in my opinion. I’ve been using Model 3673 (17″ x 22″) for a few years now. For just a bit more than $20, no other piece of equipment has delivered as much bang for the buck. My only complaint is the large hoop size makes all of my 20″ fish look small….

I also use a long-handled Fishpond for certain applications, but the Frabill gets the most use by far. The fine rubberized mesh of the Frabill provides a really nice, unobtrusive backdrop for fish photos. I generally keep my fish in the net. I find that, with the Fishpond, the larger rubberized mesh is a bit problematic due to its size and white/clear color. The Frabill mesh is far less noticeable.

Take a look at the comparison photos for an example of the two net materials:

You can see in the photo of the rainbow trout on the top that the Fishpond net material is a pronounced white color which, to my eye, competes with the subject of the photo. Conversely, the Frabill net on the bottom blends into the backdrop and even creates a vignette effect that highlights the subject of the photo.

Upgraded handle. Shrink tubing over spiral wrapped cork tape.

There’s not much room for improvement with this net, but when I replaced my original one earlier this year, I decided to add a customized grip to the handle, using cork tape and heat shrink tubing in the same manner that I use to build grip sections on surf rods.

In the surf fishing world, this is often referred to as a “Paco grip.” The cork tape gets wrapped in a spiral pattern along the handle and secured at both ends with a few wraps of electrical tape before covering it all with the shrink tubing to finish off the grip. I find the result to provide a better feel in the hand.

Heat shrink tubing and cork tape used for building surf rod grips. Any tape of similar dimensions designed for use on grips could be used as a substitute.

Here’s a quick run down of the simple materials:

  • Cork tape for rod building (1″ wide x 1/8″ thick) – but any grip tape of similar dimensions will work.
  • 2.5″ heat shrink tubing. This can get expensive. Sshop around online or, better yet, visit an electrical supply store that will sell a short length from a spool.
  • Electrical tape to secure the spiral ends of the cork tape.
  • Heat gun.

I wouldn’t consider this an essential upgrade, just a fun project with materials I happened to have on hand as a custom rod builder. However I do enjoy the feel of the new grip and would recommend it as a project to anyone inclined to improve the handle on their Frabill.

  • Tight lines.

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4 thoughts on “Frabill Net With Custom Grip

  1. Nice tip. Thanks!
    My only mod so far was to cut and throw away the stretchy rubber net cord and zip tie a Orvis magnetic net release to the net hoop near the handle.
    I do love my Steven’s long handled canoe net for boat and some stream fishing, but alas they have gone out of business!@#, so I need to be careful with that one!

  2. I have used a magnet in the past, but I attached it to the top of the hoop so it would hang with the handle downward. There are several ways to rig them and I enjoy tinkering and fine tuning a system that works best for me.

  3. I should add that one of the problems with that particular set up was that with the magnet on the business end, I’ve had tippet get caught in the magnet’s slip ring. Didn’t happen often, but all it takes is to happen once and break off a good fish.

  4. I typically use one of my Brass Elgin net clips on the top of the hoop but I didn’t want to cut the Frabill’s net to attach it.

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