Why Handheld Anodes Should not Double as Dip Nets

Smith-Root Staff January 21, 2023

Intense Field Strength

The most intense portion of the electric field is immediately adjacent to the outside of the electrodes. You want to minimize the duration of exposure and proximity of fish to this part of the field. A stitched on ring net increases exposure time and proximity to the electrode, therefore increasing the likelihood of fish injuries.


Electrolysis creates corrosion on the electrodes. It is imperative that this corrosion be cleaned from the electrodes to minimize electrical resistance that increases the burden on the backpack electrofisher. A net on the anode prevents you from properly and regularly cleaning your ring.


A net on the ring encourages people to swing the anode pole and electrode ring towards people when emptying the net. Even worse, if you are holding a bucket, the ring will be within inches of your hand…hopefully you are wearing rubber gloves! You want to minimize the chance of direct exposure to the electrode ring, whereas a stitched on ring net encourages unsafe practices.

USFWS Electrofishing requirements state: (d) Do not use netting on hand-held electrodes except when sampling for lamprey ammocetes. This helps ensure safety, avoids fish trauma, and allows removal of deposits.