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The HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts


Wooden fishing net making


The construction of bentwood steamed ash or oak fishing nets and poles. See also net making.


Status Critically endangered
Historic area of significance UK
Area currently practised UK
Origin in the UK 1600s
Current no. of professionals (main income) 1
Current no. of professionals (sideline to main income)
Current no. of trainees 0
Current total no. serious amateur makers
Current total no. of leisure makers



Up until early 1900’s most nets were steamed ash. These were replaced by metalwork and, as modern materials came available, the wooden frames almost vanished entirely. Now landing nets are made from carbon fibre, alloy etc.

There are some in the traditional angling community who try to keep traditionally made wood or bamboo rods, nets and other fishing equipment from being lost. Steamed wooden frames are almost impossible to source without extensive research to find a craftsperson who knows how to make one.



  • Wood selection
  • Hand crafting the wood into suitable sizes and shapes for steaming
  • Fitting the steamed wood onto a former to retain its oval shape. Once dried and set to shape, sand and polish using oils or varnishes
  • Fitting said wooden frame to already handmade brass or alloy fittings
  • Fitting the net to the frame


Local forms

Several variations of these nets are made. The nets for coarse anglers are usually pear shaped, and quite large. Game anglers prefer smaller frames sometimes with a more pronounced flat end, and integral wooden handle. Coarse anglers have threaded metal fittings for attaching long pole and is made by the same craftsmen who make the nets.



  • Construction of knotless mesh nets (as is required today by U.K Environment Agency regulations) which is now usually done in the far-east and mass produced. Handmade knotless mesh netting is virtually unobtainable except from far eastern imports.


Issues affecting the viability of the craft

  • Market issues: the market for nets does exist and people are prepared to pay high prices, but the process of making them is complicated and relies on external suppliers
  • Availability of raw materials and components: makers have reported difficulties in sourcing nets, brass components and a good source of bamboo


Support organisations


Craftspeople currently known

Individual craftspeople:


Other information