Hoopnet maker 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 nets, and making 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.
Danny taught 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.” While David is relatively new to both the tradition and the family, Ruby is proud to continue her family’s craft.