Flag-style and tie-down gill nets are available in square mesh and stretched mesh varieties, as well as in nylon and monofilament. Flag-style gill nets function as free-falling nets. Made with a spiderweb-like design, flag-style gill nets extend from the top of the water and stretch from one end of a top anchor to another. Because the sides and bottom are not anchored, still water is required. Once the net is in place, fish swim inside the net and become tangled. Flag-style gill nets can be handled by one angler and are better suited for ponds and lakes. Gill nets make it easy to round up a range of catfish, menhaden and bunker fish.
Tie-down gill nets feature a top float line or sinker, rear lead line and connective side strings, all of which make the net easy to use in flowing water. Although the tie-down gill net is not quite as effective for catching fish as the flag-style gill net, it is less expensive. The tie-down gill net is also more prone to tangling than the flag-style gill net.
Trap nets feature a 1,000-foot, 14-inch stretched mesh lead that connects to an enclosure. From the enclosure, a tunnel leads to a "pit," where fish are kept. The depth of the net requires water of more than 90 feet. Shallow water trap nets that are specifically designed for less depth are also available, and typically only require a depth of 15 feet. Deep water trap nets require at least 35 feet of depth or more. All trap nets use floats, frames and anchors to remain submerged.
Drift nets are allowed to, as the name suggests, drift along with the current. Because of their free-flowing nature, drift nets can capture a wide range of fish. From deep sea fish, such as tuna, squid and shark, to non-target fish, turtles, seabirds and marine mammals, drift nets float for miles, collecting anything that becomes trapped inside the netting. For this reason, drift nets have been subject to international controversy and legislation. In 1992, a global moratorium on large-scale drift nets was introduced.