A major limitation of methods for collecting small fish and shrimp is that no single method is equally effective for all species or all life history stages. We compared the efficacy of the sweep net electrofishing (SNE) method with two other commonly used sampling methods for the collection of small fish and shrimp, the standard sweep net (SW) and the point abundance electrofishing (PAE) method developed by Copp & Penaz (1988). The effectiveness of the three methods was compared under three different current speeds in an Australian lowland river. The SNE method collected an order of magnitude more shrimp and a greater size range than the other two methods, irrespective of the current speed. The SNE method captured a similar number of fish to the SW method, but significantly more individuals than the PAE method. However, the two electrofishing methods caught a greater size range of both fish and shrimp than did the SW method. The effectiveness of the SNE method appears to be due to its ability to immediately capture shocked individuals, thereby lessening the likelihood of escape. Whilst the SNE method is not quantitative, its high level of effectiveness is likely to be particularly useful in systems with low densities of fish and shrimp.