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Local inventor improves the fishing net

Oxford resident Ross Smith and his invention for fishermen. Photo by Andrew Moser. (click for larger version)
July 07, 2010 - Oxford resident Ross Smith found his way into the United States Patent and Trademark Office after coming up with an improvement to the standard fishing net.

Smith and his partner, Jeff Kempf of Shelby Twp., developed the Leverage Landing Net, a fishing net that allows a fisherman to keep one hand on the fishing rod while netting the fish with the other.

"I have always had an idea for a fishing net that would be able to collapse down and easy to use," Smith said.

Smith and Kempf were able to work on the design after Kempf got laid off from his job in the automotive industry in 2008.

Both being avid hunting and fishing enthusiasts, they took their passion for the outdoors and combined with Smith's idea of a bent handled fishing net to create the Leverage Landing Net.

"About a year and a half ago we started jotting down ideas and started diagramming out what my thought process was in the product," Smith said. "We came up with a fishing net that folds up and collapses on itself and stays closed for easy storage and easy accessibility."

What makes the net so unique is that it utilizes a simple arm brace and "pistol" grip that enables a fisherman to deploy and operate the net one-handed while maintaining control of the fishing rod in the other hand.

The brace and grip combination enables the fisherman's arm to act as an extension to the net's handle while increasing the strength and control when netting a fish.

"There's really no other net out there that will do what ours does," Smith said.

The main block of the net uses Celcon M 90 Acetel Co-polymer, which offers high strength and rigidity over a broad temperature range, low wear, toughness and resistance to repeated impact.

The arm-cradle is constructed out of high-density polyethylene, while the net rail and handle is constructed out of high-grade Air-Force aluminum.

The netting is a rubber coated, woven knot-less nylon, which is perfect for catch and release because it is gentler on the protective coating of fish, resulting in fewer hook snags.

Located on the main block is a set of numbers that, according to Smith, will help fishermen determine the length of their fish after catching them.

Smith gave this reporter a demonstration on how the net actually unfolded. "How it works is that it all folds up and collapses right down and locks into position (by the handle)...and then you push a button to disengage it and a little twist to fully extend," Smith explained.

"With the cradle on the arm, it gives you the maneuverability to go where ever you need too," he added.

Smith said that a fisherman would be able to lift 10 times the weight with his net compared to a normal fish net.

According to Smith, it took about nine months to come up with the idea, assemble the parts, construct the prototype and test it out.

They came up with the first functional prototype in November of 2008 and kept tweaking and improving it in until the spring of 2009, when they gave the nets to several respected fishermen in the United States to test in several different arenas from crappie, bass, walleye, pike, and steelhead to snook, red fish and bone fish.

Once the prototype was complete, Smith and Kempf submitted their idea for the patent, which they received. Their business name and logo are trademarked as well.

The duo developed two different net sizes which are currently being sold at Bass Pro Shops and Jay's Sporting Goods. According to Smith, Bass Pro Shops initially ordered 100 nets, with 75 sold so far.

There is a small size net, called the crappie fish net, which is useful for people going after small fish.

The crappie would also be useful for people in kayaks and fly fishermen.

The medium size net is the same length as the small, but has a bigger net size. The width of the small net is 19 inches, while the medium sized is 22 inches.

"The middle sized net is our most versatile," Smith said. "That is the one that I would recommend for most fishing."

The small net is retailed at $85, while the medium sells for $99.

They are currently working on a prototype for a larger net, which will have a longer pole and wider hoop. Smith said that net would be most useful for boats with high sides.

"A lot of charter captains said that it would be great if we could get a little more reach out of it because they are sitting a lot higher out of the water and it takes a little bit more to get down to the water," he said.

Smith added that while testing it, they were able to catch a 33-inch pike, a 15-pound catfish and some decent sized steelheads.

One of the great things about Smith's company is that everything is produced out of his own home in Oxford, which translates into a family business.

"We have all the parts made, brought into here and the whole family puts them together," he added.

When he is not constructing his fishing net, he runs a cabinet and butcher shop out of his home, and has served as the JV Baseball coach at Oxford High School for the past 10 years.

"We want to be different. We want to be the best of the nets that are out there right now, and we feel that we are," Smith said.

Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.
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