Based on the commercial surrounding nets traditionally used in the Coryphaena hippurus fishery, we designed an experimental purse seine (64 m long and 14 m high, with a purse line and a central codend of 2 mm mesh) for sampling fish fauna associated with flotsam. Taxa, number, biomass and sizes of fishes caught with both types of gear around fish aggregation devices were compared. From 63 hauls with the experimental net, we caught 11370 fishes belonging to 17 families and 26 species. In contrast, 816 fishes belonging to 7 species and 5 families were collected from 39 commercial hauls. Despite differences in number of hauls for each net, the curves of cumulative species richness showed that additional hauls could not increase the number of species collected with the commercial net. The most abundant species from experimental net catches were Trachurus picturatus, which represented over 80% of the specimens caught in spring and summer, Naucrates ductor, which represented about 50% of autumn catches, both in terms of abundance and biomass, and Seriola dumerili, which represented 46% and 21% of the samples taken in summer and autumn respectively. Seriola dumeril was also frequent in commercial net catches, in which T. picturatus did not appear, while Coryphaena hippurus and N. ductor represented more than 85% of both abundance and biomass. Large differences between the two types of net were also obtained in the mean fish weight and length frequency distributions of the catches by season. Fish caught with the experimental net ranged from 6 to 570 mm length, while fish collected from commercial hauls had a size range of 35 to 700 mm. The effectiveness of the experimental net in catching small fishes showed that it can be an optimal sampling method not only in the study of fish fauna associated with flotsam, but also in studies to catch early life stages.