As you know, I'm not much for spending money on gear. I buy my basketball shoes on the cheap, and I'm even more stingy when it comes to fly fishing. Why? Because anything sold with "fly fishing" on the box is priced twice as high as it would be in the spin fishing aisle and I don't buy the claims of superiority that companies make.

After all, I remember when IM6 was the gold standard and people still caught tons of manufacturers are making 'throwback' style super-slow action fiberglass rods as if technology from the 70's was some gold standard...and no matter the technology people are still catching tons of fish. 

So, clearly, the amount of money you spend on a rod doesn't correlate to the number of fish you catch. It might correlate to your comfort while doing it, or your sense of prestige...and a good warranty is a good idea...but it isn't the key to catching fish.

With that in mind, when a fish swam through my net via a giant hole, I decided it was time to replace it. I wanted to replace it with a good rubber net because I do believe the hype that slippery wet rubber does a better job of keeping the fish from losing scales and it's slime layer than mesh fabric. But, those nets are ridiculously expensive! There are cheaper rubber nets in the spinning aisle (imagine that!) but they were too big for wearing on my back while wading around. So...what to do?

A trip to Goodwill got this idea started. I saw a racquetball racquet on the shelf for $4 and got to thinking that it looked an awful lot like the design of quite a few nets out there. A quick look online showed that it's pretty cheap to buy a replacement rubber net. A tape measure made clear that a medium sized flyfishing replacement net would fit just right with the dimensions of a racquetball racquet frame.

Done! I snapped up an atrociously ugly Wilson Titanium racquet and went online to find a net. Here's what it became:

Ugh, that thing is ugly, but it's the right size!

Racquetball racquets also have a wrist strap connection that is nice and strong...perfect for a net keeper. 

Injected foam handle means it might float. De-string and take off the plastic rash guards. 

I used a dremel to take the handle down a bit and round it. 


Used some paint stripper from the garage to take it down to bare metal, since the paint didn't stick to the original finish. 

Nice bare metal. Doesn't look or act like titanium to me, I think it's mostly aluminum. 

Painted with some enamel stray pain. 

Knotting on the handle out of paracord. My pioneering merit badge came in handy!

Cut down the string guides so the net will be recessed once it's attached. 

Nice Turks Head knots on each side of the handle. 

I went with a Fishpond net because at $25 they are decent deal for a good net. The net is lightweight, unlike some on Ebay and ones I saw in stores that look awfully chunky and heavy. 

Also, the kit has everything you need, including a needle...but just barely enough. I had less than 6 inches of dacron left at the end. 

Snap the rash guards back on the racket. 

Sew the net in with the dacron thread. Loop in to attach the net, stitch through every hole with a running stitch to keep the plastic guard in place. 

Here's what a good attachment looks like. They won't all line up this well, do what you have to to make it work. 

Looks pretty classy from the outside. 

And there you have it! A medium sized net, super lightweight and looks very classy. Possible for $30...much less if you go with a cheaper Ebay rubber net (a nylon net is even cheaper) or find a deal on a used racquet.

I'm not gonna lie, this cost a bit more than $30 if you count the stuff I used that I just had lying around. A package of paracord is $6, spray paint is $4, a dremel is pricey but you could just as easily use a knife and sandpaper...but it's pretty cheap all told. If you went with a cheaper net this could be a $15 net...even less if you don't really care what it looks like.