The net is an option for fishing in general that more often than not means certainty of the catch and the kill. At times it is as certain as gaff in dictating the outcome of that fish’s day. I have used them often on rivers and the open waters for big kings and cohos. I seldom use a net on rivers, regardless of the species. Not sure why, just seems in the way. Most of the fish I catch are below 15″ and generally can be brought to hand without dragging them onto rocks, grass or sand. A quick hook removal, maybe a pic and back in they go.
While on a lake, in a tube or pontoon boat the smaller fish can be released without much fuss, especially if you have taken the time to barb your hooks or gone barbless. Every now and then a fish is more manageable when a net is used to remove the fish from the water. On those occasions, the hook is removed, maybe a shot taken, if a beauty, and the fish is lowered back into the water still in the net. The fish is revived and scooted out of the net, with a helping hand, into the depths.
I prefer the Brodin Ghost nets with the clear thermoplastic net. I also have several of the soft nylon nets as well that are gentler on the fish’s side. The older knotted, thick nylon nets are too rough on many fish, if you intend to release them. Old nets should go the way of the fingers inside the gill plate pose used on live fish….harmful.