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Modeling fishing-gear systems is essential to better understand the factors affecting their movement and for devising strategies to control movement. In this study, we present a generalized mathematical modeling methodology to analyze fishing gear and its various components. Fishing gear can be divided into a finite number of elements that are connected with flexible lines. We use an algorithm to develop a numerical method that calculates precisely the shape and movement of the gear. Fishing-gear mathematical models have been used to develop software tools that can design and simulate dynamic movement of novel fishing-gear systems. The tool allowed us to predict the shape and motion of the gear based on changes in operation and gear design parameters. Furthermore, the tool accurately calculated the swept volume of towed gear and the surrounding volume of purse-seine gear. We analyzed the fished volume for trawl and purse-seine gear and proposed a new definition of fishing effort, incorporating the concept of fished space. This method may be useful for quantitative fishery research, which requires a good understanding of the selectivity and efficiency of fishing gear used in surveys.