There is a view in some quarters that a net is not needed. It's a macho thing and unfortunately such an attitude is bad for the fish, especially if the fish are to be returned.
Why use a net? Nearly the right question...
Why use a long handled net of good sized capacity? Now that is the right question!
There is another item that you might consider using if you are practicing Catch and Release and if the location you are fishing has no soft vegetation to lay your net on during the unhooking. If you have done a bit of specimen hunting amongst the so called coarse fishes you will no doubt already have an unhooking mat. They are a bit awkward to carry about being bulky, but if all you have is stony ground to lay your fish on then why not give one a try?