A Review of the Skulldrag Sidearm by Wayne Petherick

One Hell of a Net

The Skulldrag nets currently come in two sizes, a 75cm Skulldrag Reaper and the 40cm Skulldrag Sidearm.  As of this writing there is a 60cm version in development and production.  While much of this review relates equally to all of the Skulldrag arsenal, this reviews is written exclusively on the Sidearm version.

Skulldrag isn't some large scale factory outfit where the product you buy comes off a production line.  These nets are hand-made by our members in North Brisbane.  So the product you get is made with care and attention, by fellow fishos who know what is needed on the water.

Beyond this the people behind these nets are top blokes and active members of our community, and some of you may have met them already at Yakhunters events.  If you haven't but get the chance take the time to stop and say g'day!

For the sake of transparency I will confess to owning two of these nets, and I will be getting the 60cm model when they come out.  I went through about ten nets trying to find the ones that were right for me.  I found them in the Skulldrag series.
Skulldrag have been awesome enough to offer our members 10% discount on these nets.  Just head on over to the Products and Services Page for more information, the link, and discount code.
Price

This category relates to how this product is priced compared to related or similar products as well as whether itpresents value for money.

The website for Skulldrag has a list price of $59.90 for the long handled version and $54.90 for the short handled version.  This compares pretty well with some similar products and is slightly more expensive than others.  It is more expensive than many silicone nets, but these tend to be very basic nets where you often get what you pay for.  The other critical thing to keep in mind with the price of a Skulldrag:  these things are hand made, and for the quality of the product and the time that goes into making each and every one...well...these nets are worth every cent.
Availability

This category relates to how easy it is to get your hand on this product.  Can you satisfy your urges immediately or do you have to learn some patience?

Skulldrag don't currently have a store front so this is a mail order product.  My experience to date has been exceptionally good.  My first net (the Reaper) was hand delivered at Round 3 and the second one (the Sidearm) was shipped one day and arrived the next.  Keep in mind that these nets are made to order and so if an order is fulfilled you may have a small wait.  But believe me, the product is worth the wait.

If you are at one of the Yak Hunters events the boys will often show up with a good assortment available for purchase including some great plastics and scents.  Stop by and say hi to Lee, Nick, or the Silent Assassin!
Ease of Set Up

This category relates to how easy the product is to set up.  Put another way, how many trips to Bunnings will it take to make it work!

These nets come ready to use out of the box, and it doesn't get much easier than that!
Ease of Use

This category relates to how easy the product is to use. Do you need a TAFE program to understand the instructions or are you ready to rock-and-roll out of the box?

Grab it by the handle, dip it in the water, land the fish.  When you are done taking out the hook and getting that fish-pic, dip the net in the water and the fish swims away.

It doesn't really get much easier than that!  
Durability

This category relates to how hardy the product is.  Could you use it to prise the hubcup off an old Massey-Ferguson without voiding your warranty?

Nets don't tend to go through too much of the same rigour as a paddle or yak hull because they are typically only lifting smaller weights, measuring in the kilograms, and they don't bump into a lot.  Having said that, after fighting a fish I have found myself in a couple of situations where the Sidearm has been the closet available object and I have used it to push away from rocks, obstacles, and even other kayaks.  Not so much as a scratch!  I think they'd go alright fighting off a croc or a bullie too.

The strength comes from the fact Skulldrag don't use cheap components.  The tubing in the net bow is 1.2mm which is durable enough for strength without the weight to make it too heavy for use.  And speaking of heavy, this brute has been weight tested to handle a 7kg load!
Utility

This category relates to whether the product says what it does on the box - does it work as advertised?

The great thing about these is that the scoop comes with grommets allowing for rapid draining of the water. This brilliant feature is absent from the competition and certainly gives the Skulldrag nets an edge. The other feature that makes use a breeze is the positive buoyancy handle fitted to each Skulldrag. In the heat of battle gear can often end up over board, even with the most care and attention and this handle ensures you will have enough time to manuever around and pick it up before it ends up in Davy Jones' Locker. 

The Sidearm version comes with the option of a short or long hande, which really comes down to a matter of personal preference.  I went the short handle.

Because of the close-knit mesh I find that fish don't get tangled up quite as easily as heavier gauge nets. I have never had to wrestle a jig head out of the holes, and the gills or fins don't get caught trying to land or release. I do find that the much smaller trebles will get caught, but that would likely be the case in any net. I can say with confidence that even with trebles, the amount of times I am trying to free them is much less than with any of my other nets. What this means is that the fish slides right into the deep bucket. Simply unhook it, quickly measure it, and dip the net back into the water. The overall stress on the fish is greatly reduced, and they swim away easily.
Check Out This Video of the Sidearm in Action!
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