Types of fishing gear

A person sitting at a table with a box of food

Fishing gear is a collective name for all fishing equipment used to catch fish, invertebrates, and other aquatic animals. In principle, it’s anything that can be fastened to a rod or line to capture the target species. Different types of gear have been developed depending on the targeted species and their habitats as well as fishing objectives.

Types of fishing gear

Fishing equipment can be classified in a number of ways depending on the type, size, and weight of the gear. The five main types are listed below:


A close up of a fish

A gill net is a large panel of connected nets that hangs vertically in the water from floats at the top and weights at the bottom. Fish are caught bypassing their head through the net, to become trapped in its mesh as they push against it.


A close up of a toy lying on top of a rock

A trawl is a fishing net that is pulled along the seabed behind one or more boats. It can be used to catch demersal fish – those that live on or near the sea bed – as well as other species such as scallops.


Trolling is a method of fishing where baited hooks are drawn through the water behind one or more boats at low speed. It can be used to catch pelagic fish – those that live in mid-water or near the surface.


A trolling line is a long, invisible line fixed to one end of a boat usually carrying baited hooks at intervals. The boat drags the lines behind it, catching pelagic fish swimming at mid-water or near the surface.


Beach seine nets are large, funnel-shaped nets that are hauled from the shoreline over shallow water and back again to capture a wide range of species.

Gear types associated with fishing for penguin species

Penguins have been caught by a number of different methods in order to collect their eggs, feathers and for scientific research. The following is a list of the main types of fishing gear used to catch penguins:


Penguin fishing gear, also known as ring nets or bag nets, are made from a panel of netting about 80cm high and 120cm wide sewn into a bag. The bottom is weighted with stones to ensure the net stays on the seabed, while floats are attached at the top so that nets can be staked down around penguin breeding sites.


Scientific fishing gear includes trawls, ring nets, and handlines. Trawling is used when collecting feathers from penguin colonies, whereas trawls and ring nets are used to catch penguins for scientific research or tagging.


Anchor nets are set from boats anchored close to penguin colonies. Each net is attached to a line that passes through a ring on the boat and then back to an anchor weighing several tonnes. The nets are pulled onto the seabed by hauling on the line until all of them have been brought within reach of the penguins.


The types of fishing gear used to catch each penguin species are outlined above. The five main methods are gill nets, trawl nets, trolling lines, beach seine nets, and anchor nets. Gillnets are by far the most common type of fishing gear associated with catching penguins for scientific purposes. They have also been employed to an extent for commercial fishing, especially in the case of Black-footed and Little Penguins. Trawl nets are mainly used to catch penguins for scientific research but they have also been employed on a limited basis by commercial fishing boats operating off the coasts of New Zealand and Australia. Anchor nets have only been recorded catching Yellow-eyed Penguins.

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