How to Choose your Mesh Size

How to Choose your Mesh Size

How to select your Mesh Size for Your Target Fish

Based on Mike Moore's (Action Outdoors Ltd) fishing experience, he recommends the following mesh size for a set or a dragnet. For further information to assist you in the understanding of mesh sizes please refer to the up-to-date Auckland Regulations. These recommendations are relevant to the Auckland and Kermadec Fishery Management Area - as per the Ministry for Primary Industries designated fishing areas. 

These recommendations cater to small boat fishing and manual net pulling in depths of 10-15m. Action Outdoors Ltd advises against setting nets deeper than 15m, as the skills and strength needed exceed the average person's capabilities, and most small fishing boats aren't designed to handle nets in strong tidal areas. For example, in a specific location where Mike fished commercially, he could only operate on weak tides every few weeks. Even then, the stress on the fishing nets and net-haulier at 50m depth was similar to a 200m deep zone with minimal tidal flow.

Target Fish:   Grey Mullet and Kahawai

  • For all West Coast and East Coast harbours:  90mm 3.625inch x 60m
  • For the East Coast outside harbours: 100mm 4-inch x 60m. These fish are larger than inner harbour fish.
  • For all coasts and harbours: 85mm x 40m dragnet only.
  • Drag or Set  90mm x 40m. With this size net, you can set in areas where legal and drag in areas where legal. For example, in some dragnet areas, you may not be able to use a set net.
  • Therefore this size gives you the flexibility to either drag or set Your net. This is an economical way to buy one net with two Fishing net methods.

Target Fish:   Parore and Kahawai in kelp areas

  • For all areas, we recommend 125mm 5 inches. This means you can keep all Flounder, Porare, Red Cod, Red Moki, Red Snapper, Snapper, Trevally, Tarakihi, and John Dory, which may also be present.
Target Fish:  Parore and Kahawai on mud banks.
  • We recommend the 125mm / 5 inches.  But if you are sure there is no by-catch, you can use 118mm, but in the warmer months, it would be rare to get no by-catch, and the smaller the mesh, the harder to get the Parore out. 
Target Fish:   Flounder
  • Action Outdoors Ltd recommends 125mm mesh due to the previous reasons.  This is legal for all by-catch.  If you only have Sand Flounder and no by-catch, you can go down to 118mm. Commercial use is 125mm.
Target Fish: Snapper and Trevally
  • Action Outdoors Ltd recommends 5.5inch 135mm if you want large Snapper, Blue Moki, Rig, Trevally, and Red Snapper. This will let most other fish swim through, which you do not want anyway.
  • This size will give you a snapper in the 350mm size range.

Action Outdoors Ltd advises against setting fishing nets for extended periods, especially during warmer months.

Predators, including sharks, stingrays, octopuses, crabs, and various shellfish, can consume catches left overnight. Dead fish deteriorate quickly in warm water, affecting their quality.

To maintain live fish quality, use advanced tools like Radars, Sounders, and GPS plotters to set nets after dark. The change of light encourages fish movement and feeding.

For dragnets targeting piper and bait fish, opt for the smallest legal mesh size (1 inch) to ensure unwanted fish are unharmed. Larger mesh sizes risk gilling fish and decreasing their survival chances during net removal.

Herring drag nets typically use mesh sizes of 1.25, 1.5, 2, 2.25, and 2.5 inches without a piper. The optimal size depends on your location, as fish sizes vary greatly between bays.


Common mesh sizes for herring and pilchard set nets range from 2 to 3 inches. Select the most suitable size based on your experience and local fish populations.

Please view the following relevant pages by clicking on the links below:

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Updated: KLM 11 Aug 2014