Hoopnet maker and Posey County native Danny Cain explains, “People who grew up in this area grew up eating fish. A lot of us won’t eat store bought fish.” He first learned to make nets as an apprentice to master net maker Jim Cooper (1942-2005), who taught others “because he didn’t want the tradition to die with him.” This labor intensive craft involves bending metal hoops, tying the nets, and making your own tools. Danny’s first lesson was to carve a needle. “I was like a lost pup,” he recalls. Now, Danny is able to tie 350 knots per hour.
Today, Danny is teaching two apprentices, his sister Ruby Norris and his son-in-law David Guffey. “I met Danny and went fishing [with hoop nets] with him a few times,” David recalls, “and I was hooked right from the beginning. No pun intended.” They are starting the same way Danny did: carving their own needles. While David is relatively new to both the tradition and the family, Ruby is proud to continue her family’s craft.