Q&A with Joe from Dead Drift Net Co.

After about a year, Micah realized that my interest in fly fishing wasn’t just a phase and I would be fishing just as often as he did. We started replacing all of my cheap starter gear with new, high-quality brands. One thing I made sure that he knew was that I wanted a real wooden, classic-looking net. After some searching, Micah came across Dead Drift Net Company on Instagram and surprised me with my first beautiful, custom-designed brookie net. We’ve since added another custom net to our collection, and honestly, I can’t give Joe’s handiwork enough praise! He is a true artist!


If you haven’t heard of Dead Drift Net Company, it’s time you did! Joe was born and raised in the Twin Cities, and has lived in Minneapolis for a little over 15 years. He and his wife share a little home with their son not too far from Lake Harriet. By day he is a government bureaucrat working on urban planning issues for the City of Minneapolis, and by night, he is a woodworking artist down in his workshop pumping out the prettiest handmade nets you’ll ever see.

Check out our Q&A with Joe!

Q: How did you get started making nets? What sparked your interest?

Joe: My grandfather was a very talented woodworker, because of him I had always been interested in woodworking. A couple of other family members have done custom woodwork professionally for years as well, I just had never felt the inspiration to try anything until a couple of years ago.

Part of my childhood was spent on rivers in southeastern Minnesota with a family friend that taught me how to fly-fish. After finishing college and then starting a career, the fishing trips became pretty infrequent. Seeking an outlet to relax and calm my mind, I started getting back into it a few years ago.

Now, a normal person getting back into fly-fishing might say to themselves – “hey, I’ll start tying my own flies,” as a way to take that next step into the sport. I’m a bit of a hobby collector though, and I had tried tying in the past and realized I lacked the patience for it. Christmas was on the horizon and I thought that maybe I could satisfy this interest in woodworking that I’d always had and dive deeper into fly-fishing by making some nets for friends and family.

It turned out to be a really meditative process for me – surprisingly similar to being out in the stream, and I received such a positive response from the people I made nets for, that I wanted to keep the hobby going. So that’s where the business started – it was really just a necessity, I wanted to keep making them but couldn’t afford to keep giving them away, so here we are!


Q:How did you come up with the name Dead Drift Net Company?

Joe: This is totally lame, but a big reason for the name is that it fits well branded onto the net. The first time I shared the name with fishy people though, I knew I had chosen the right one. I had a list of about 20 names I started with, most of them terrible – some had place names, some had my name… ‘Dead Drift Net Company’ just felt right, not too forced, and I like the almost throwback sound to it. Anyhow, I think we can all agree that it’s better than ‘Bernard Net Company’.

Q: People can order nets directly from your site that are already made, but can they also order custom nets?

Joe: Absolutely! Most of the orders I fill are for custom nets. Custom doesn’t mean it needs to get complicated with a bunch of different species of wood either – it just means I make exactly what you want. I love the idea of everyone having something that is uniquely their own.

custom nets, handmade nets, fly fishing nets
Our second custom net from the North Woods series–featuring a longer handle and larger basket.

Q: How many different woods do you have to choose from? What are your favorite woods to work with and why?

Joe: Oh man, you name a wood and I’ll give it a shot. I work a lot with Maple and Walnut, which is a pretty classic combination for a wood landing net. I love to mix in a bold contrast in color though as well, so you’ll see me use Padauk or Purpleheart quite a bit. Ash, Cherry, Sapele/Mahogany, Zebrawood, and Wenge have all found a spot in the regular rotation.

handmade nets, custom nets, fly fishing nets

Q: How much time and work does it take you from start to finish to complete a net?

Joe: There are a ton of small steps involved in making a net, so it’s a little bit of time here and there over the course of a few weeks. Since it’s is not a full-time gig for me I do most of my work on the evenings and weekends. This means that it’s usually a three week process. Total actual work time is around three to five hours depending on the complexity of the design, longer if we’re gonna do something really unique or new.

Q: When you’re not busy making nets and you finally get a chance to get out and fish, what are your favorite fish to target? How did you get into fishing originally?

Joe: My first choice is to be out wading in a stream looking for willing browns and brooks. Being in and around running water can’t be beat, catching fish is just a bonus in those locales. I get out in the canoe with the family occasionally too for some good old night crawler/bobber fishing – always great to see the excitement on my son’s face when he hooks into one—gonna have to get him practicing his fly casting soon.

I initially got into fishing like most kids – on still water gear fishing with bobbers, jigs, and spoons. My first-grade teacher and her husband befriended my family when I was young, and he got me to try fly-fishing probably in 4th or 5th grade. I felt like I was pretty cool, as none of my other friends growing up had gotten into it. In college I connected with, and eventually lived with, a bunch of avid fly-fisherman. Over the past two years it’s been amazing to be welcomed into the local fly-fishing community. The joy and camaraderie shared by like-minded folks is so energizing, and there are so many talented people out there making stuff and teaching each other.

Q: Outside of fishing and nets completely— what do you enjoy doing?

Joe: I love living in a City where I can ride my bike to work, have the cultural and entertainment opportunities we have, and be so close to so much high quality water. I am truly dumbfounded at times by how great we have it here. When I’m not at the day job or working on the nets, I’m usually with the family, often working on house projects—and when I get a chance I try to squeeze in my other passion hobby, making music.

driftless, driftless fly fishing, trout fishing, midwest trout fishing

Interested in ordering your own custom Dead Drift Net Company net? Check out your options! Or if you’re ready to start fishing with a Dead Drift Net Company net today, check out his current inventory!




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