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Another tactic was to ensnare his enemy's weapon in the net and pull it out of his grasp, leaving the opponent defenseless.

Should the net miss or the secutor grab hold of it, the retiarius likely discarded the weapon, although he might try to collect it back for a second cast.

The net-fighter made up for his lack of protective gear by using his speed and agility to avoid his opponent's attacks and waiting for the opportunity to strike. If this succeeded, he attacked with his trident while his adversary was entangled.

Fights between retiarii and secutores probably became popular as early as the middle of the 1st century CE, and the net-fighter became one of the standard gladiator categories by the 2nd or 3rd century CE and remained a staple attraction until the end of the gladiatorial games.

Helmets allowed both gladiators and spectators to dehumanise the fighters; when an arena combatant had to kill a comrade-at-arms, someone he probably lived and trained with every day, his opponent's helmet added an extra layer of separation.

It was a strong weapon, capable of inflicting piercing wounds on an unprotected skull or limb.

The dagger was the retiarius's final backup should the trident be lost.

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