A few years ago, at a Trout Unlimited fly fishing school where I volunteer as an instructor, I met a really wonderful gentleman named Jim Newland. Jim was in his mid-80s then, and was (among other things) renowned as a maker of really nice landing nets. He and I got to talking and discovered that we had a lot in common, and in the course of that conversation I mentioned that I'd recently taken up woodworking and was interested in learning to make nets.
A few weeks after the school ended, I got an email from Jim, saying he was giving up his net-making hobby/side business for personal reasons, and inviting me up to his place in Traverse City, MI to take possession of any of his tools, net-bending forms, and stocks of hardwood net components that I wanted. "If you don't want them, I'm just throwing it all away," he said. So--needless to say, probably--I went up to see him and came home with my car absolutely loaded to capacity with hardwood strips, handle blanks, forms, tools - you name it.
I set to work immediately -- I'd watched every net building video YouTube had, and I'd talked to Jim for hours about his process, and I was raring to go, as they say. I quickly realized, though, that my skills were just not quite where I needed them to be yet. (Also, I desperately needed a bandsaw.)
Fast-forward two-years-and-change -- numerous failed attempts, two fishing seasons away from the shop, and two major shop re-organizations later, and it's finally starting to come together. This is the first one I've made that I feel is worthy to take outside and use. It needs several coats of finish, but I'm feeling good about it. The TU school gets going this May, and I plan on showing up with enough nets to convince my friend Jim that he didn't misplace his trust in me.