Hand lifting net (Yor lek) in Thailand

Small lift net for catching daily meals of freshwater prawns and fish

‘Yor lek’ is a hand lifting net, and means in Thai language something like ‘small lift net’. ‘Yor’ means ‘lift net’ and ‘lek’ means ‘small’. Its big brothers are called ‘Yor yai’, which are permanent installations on large water channels. Yor lek is a typical family fishing device, which does not need much attention and delivers daily meals.

Every permanent water body in Thailand contains a variety of fish, crabs, gastropods, and freshwater prawns/shrimps. In small and shallow water bodies various species of Gourami fish (Trichogaster sp., variety of others) are living. Also rice field crabs (Esanthelphusa sp.) and rice field shrimps (Goong foi, Macrobrachium lanchesteri) are there in large quantities. All of these species are mainly caught in Yor lek’s. Only apple snails (Pomacea sp.) will be collected by hand or are only a side catch in a Yor lek.

How to operate small lift nets

The hand-lifting net is placed in shallow water and rice bran will be sprinkled over the middle of the net. Any other kind of bait (like smashed snails, worms, crushed insects, a.s.o.) can also be used. After leaving the net for about one hour untouched, the fisherman starts lifting it. He pulls the lifting pole very fast out of the water, using his upper leg for leverage. The net creates high water resistance, and the likelihood that prey can flee is high. Therefore lifting speed is essential.

The pictures show three typical catches of one lift each. It can be seen, that with just one lift the meal of at least one person can be caught.

The same location for catching can be used multiple times until only fish and shrimp are left to catch.

Lessons learned on the benefits of small lift nets

  • Yor lek is a very efficient ‘food catching machine’, which doesn’t need much time or effort to fill the stomach.
  • One of the main catches of this device, Goong foi (Rice fields shrimps), can be eaten raw as a snack – directly picked from the lift net.

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