Copper & Bamboo: Fly Fishing Nets Come Back Down to Earth

JD immersed himself in bamboo craft for years before Hellbender was even an idea, tinkering and experimenting with the versatile material.

It was during one of these projects, that fly fishing buddy introduced JD to his latest piece of gear – a fly fishing net with a rubberized catch & release net bag. He had never seen one like it before and the innovation immediately caught his attention; the fish we care so much about would be safer and flies wouldn't snag in the net. What a game-changer!

Prior to this encounter, we had given up nets altogether due to the frustration of extracting hooks from nylon bags and the worry that we was harming the fish.

Being shown a more modern option triggered one of those classic light bulb moments. JD had to have one for himself and the notion of utilizing bamboo seemed like such a natural fit. After all, bamboo is not only abundant in our region but also renowned for its strength and flexibility. It has also been a classic material in fly fishing all the way back to the beginning. With plentiful and countless stands of bamboo right here in our backyard, the material practically begged to be transformed into a fly fishing net.

Eager to explore the potential of this idea, we scoured the internet, expecting to find someone who had ventured down a similar path. Surprisingly, our search yielded no results. JD decided to take the leap and start tinkering with a bamboo frame, copper to stitch the net bag in place, and a heavier gauge copper for a sturdy keeper ring at the end of the handle. Armed with years if experience crafting with bamboo and fueled by curiosity, he set out to create a prototype.

The process was equal parts trial and error. Each version brought new insights. The design was refined over and over based on practical use, durability, and an attempt to make the net as unique as possible. Eventually, JD arrived at a net that just felt right. It was lighter than any net we had ever held and it popped in pictures.

Encouraged by our experience using the net, JD began crafting them for friends and family, each one tailored to their own personal preferences. The positive feedback was overwhelming, and we realized that we may have stumbled upon something special.

Bailly, the other half of our little Mom & Pop team, poked and prodded JD for months to try selling online. She finally convinced him and set up a modest website so we could give it a shot. Our first model - the Mountain Trout - surpassed our wildest expectations. Excited and humbled by the enthusiastic feedback from our early supporters, we expanded our product line, introducing a range of sizes and customization options little by little.

What sets our nets apart is how nimble they are, the natural materials sourced from right here in Pickens County, SC, and the copper details. Our copper is sourced from right over the mountains in Georgia. Unlike conventional nets, which can feel cumbersome and rigid, our bamboo frames flex with the movements of the fish, providing a more intuitive and connected fly fishing experience. It's a subtle yet significant difference that our customers notice and appreciate.

Several years in, we're still committed to ensuring that every fly fisher finds a net that suits their needs. Whether it's the choice of hoop size, handle length, or the bamboo finish, we strive to offer options that cater to each individual preference and need. One particularly memorable example from early on in our journey is the 48-inch handle, born out of a customer's request for better reach following back surgery. It's these little moments of customer-driven collaboration and brainstorming that fuel our passion for what we do and keep us going for the long haul of running a small handmade business. 

As a small Mom & Pop shop, we don't have the resources of larger manufacturers. What we lack in scale, we make up for in passion, dedication, and a hand crafted product that you can't find anywhere else.

We're grateful for the support of our customers and the fly fishing community at large. Whether you choose to purchase from us or simply help spread the word, your involvement and support means the world to us.

Thank you for being a part of our journey,

JD & Bailly Berry

Hellbender Fishing Nets

Proudly hand crafted to order in Pickens County, SC

Our Mission

From the outset, our focus has been on using unique materials and traditional craftsmanship techniques.

Each net frame is meticulously handcrafted using locally sourced bamboo (a grass!), ensuring sustainability and a minimal carbon footprint. We stay away from mass production in favor of made to order gear, allowing us to maintain quality control and attention to detail during every step of the process.

At our workshop nestled in the heart of Appalachia, we take a customer first approach to our craft. Our mission goes beyond the practical; we're dedicated to offering small town service and personalized touches that set us apart from the mainstream.

One of the hallmarks of our nets is their customizable handle length. We work closely with our customers to create a handle that not only fits their personal preferences but also simplifies the fishing experience.

In addition to handle length, we offer a range of options for the net bags themselves. Our stream-friendly net bags are always made with catch & release in mind, providing a simple solution for conservation minded fly fishers like ourselves.

From the moment you place your order to the day you land your first catch with one of our nets, we're dedicated to providing exceptional service and personalized attention.

Join us in our mission to craft sustainable, artisanal fly fishing nets that not only meet your needs but also reflect your values. Together, we can make a difference in the world of fly fishing and preserve the beauty of our natural environment for generations to come.

Thank you for being here,

Bailly & JD Berry

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