We’ll cover the standard hoop netting or hoop equipment in this section. There are some modifications to the hoop nets listed in our “Tips & Tricks” section also.
HOOP NETS: These are the most important piece of hooping gear we can have. They came in various sizes, but the brand I use come in 32 inch and 36 inch diameter sizes. They come with 100 feet of line, small floats and a bait pouch in the bottom. Although we will modify them in short order, the stock hoop nets are very good quality and very serviceable. Because I usually hoop net from my kayak, I use the 32 inch diameter hoop nets. The hoop netter’s who usually use their skiffs or other powered craft like the 36 inch hoop nets also.
LOBSTER GAUGES: The state in which I live ( California) requires us to have a measuring gauge immediately available while hoop netting for lobsters and/or crabs. Most of the lobster gauges are made from either aluminum or plastic. Which you use is a personal choice. I have used my aluminum measuring gauge for years with no ill effects, and plan to use it for many more. Besides carrying the aluminum lobster gauge as my primary gauge, I also carry a spare plastic measuring gauge in case I lose the aluminum one.
BAIT CAGES: The hoop nets already come with a sewn in pouch in the bottom, but I like to use a bait cage for a few reasons. First, you can pre load your cages before the trip. When you get to the launch, you simply attach the cage to the bottom pouch on the hoopnet, and you’re baited up ready to go. The second reason is that we have a seal epidemic here. They like hoop nets for an easy meal, and will tear your bait out of the pouch if they can. The use of a bait cage discourages them from bothering your hoop nets too much. What do you bait hoop nets with? Alot of us will catch mackerels beforehand and freeze them and be ready to go. Some visit their local fish market for pieces that are not normally sold to consumers and use those. I’ve also heard of guys using chicken, but I haven’t seen this firsthand with anyone I have hooped with.
To secure the bait cage to a hoop net, alot of us use plastic electrical tie-wraps, say four to six inches in length. We tie-wrap the bait cage for the evening, and use cutters to cut the plastic and remove the bait cage from the hoop net when we’re finished.
GLOVES: Lobsters have spines on their body for protection, I believe gloves are important while hooping. There are many types and price ranges to choose from. You can get started using the orange gripper gloves that help protect you, or you can get the better ones for diving that have a leather palm piece sewn in that offers more protection. I also recommend taking a spare pair of gloves hoop netting with you for a few reasons. Regardless of the type of gloves, I really suggest using them while hoop netting.
LIGHTS: Because we usually hoop net at night, we use flashlights and alot of headlamps. I carry spare batteries for each type of light and a spare light as well. You need to clearly see what you bring up in your hoop net before bringing it aboard your kayak or boat, as I’ve seen more than a few eels and scorpion fish brought up in hoop nets.
CUTTERS & PLIERS: I always carry a pair of cutters and needle nose pliers with me on a boat or kayak. You may need to cut the bait cage free from the hoop net, or cut a part of the net for some reason, If you get a fish tangled in the hop net as they often do, you can use the needle nose pliers to separate them from the net.
SAFETY ITEMS: This could be an entire section in itself, and I think it’s very important to plan ahead before going out. Safety while on the water should be a primary concern of yours, especially while hoop netting at night. If you are pro active about safety, you’ll plan accordingly. If you’re not a safe person or don’t think about safety matters until after something happens, this may not be an activity for you.