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Learning the Basic Fishing Knots

by | Jan 28, 2022 | Fly Fishing | 0 comments

Learning the basic fishing knots will increase your ability to present your fly more effectively and land more fish. 

From tying the fly to the end of your line to attaching your line to your backing, the ability to tie an effective knot is crucial in all aspects of fishing. It can be overwhelming; learning the various knot tying techniques. Heck, even keeping up with the names takes a lot of brain power.

Learning the Basic Fishing Knots

While it may seem as simple as tying a knot that holds well under pressure, different knots serve different purposes. The way the knot lays against the line as well as its bulkiness can be the difference between spooking a fish and enticing a strike. While there are a multitude of effective ways to tie a fly onto your tippet, attach a leader or backing, all with different variations, here are the basic fishing knots to get you started.

Fly Fishing Knots

Fly fishermen are considered the best knot tyers in the fishing world. From tying the backing onto the spool, attaching the fly line to the backing, the leader to the fly line, the tippet to the leader, and the fly to the tippet, each knot is different. If the wrong knot is tied in the wrong place, your casting could become ineffective with the chances of losing a hooked fish high.

Whether stripping streamers or casting to saltwater fish, learning the basic fishing knots will increase your ability to present your fly more effectively.

Surgeon’s Loop

The simplicity and strength of this knot are what make the surgeon’s loop, or double overhand knot (if you choose to add a second turn), a fan favorite. Basically, a simple overhand knot with the line doubled will make for a strong and effective knot that won’t slip. It can be used when attaching two lines, such as backing and fly line, fly line and leader, or leader to the tippet.

Learn more here.

Blood Knot

A blood knot is hard to learn but is a must when attaching the fly line to the backing or connecting the leader to the tippet or when trying different tippet sizes together. While this knot is two improved clinch knots connecting one another, the blood knot takes time and practice to perfect.

Learn more here.

Perfection Loop

While some fly fishermen use a Surgeon’s loop and a perfection loop interchangeably, a perfection loop is much stronger and comes into play when targeting larger fish. Used for attaching the end of the fly line to the leader, tying this knot correctly is imperative for effective casting.

Learn more here.

Other Knots You May Need

Freshwater and saltwater fishing are quite similar when it comes to tying knots. This is largely because most reels, no matter the size, are rather universal when it comes to attaching the line, tying on a fly or lure, etc. In fact, you may see a variation of a fly fishing knot while fishing for giant yellowfin tuna 100 miles out in the ocean. Same knot though slightly altered to accommodate the setup and the situation. 

Palomar Knot

Regarded as one of the strongest fishing knots out there, the Palomar knot is quick to tie and can be used when attaching larger flies or lures (think big-game fish). It is most effective when using non-swimming lures such as jigs or other bottom bouncing lures. However, you will not want to use this knot when attaching a weight as it tends to hang. Overall, this is a very important knot you should learn to tie early on.

Learn more here.

Overhand Knot

An overhand knot has many uses when setting up your fishing reel. The overhand knot lays flat so is a good choice when you are attaching your line to the spool. You can also use this knot tying on bottom weights since they don’t have to be as strong.

Learn more here.

Improved Clinch

The improved clinch knot, also known as the Salmon Knot, is simple to tie. It is used for securing the line or tippet to the lure or fly. The improved clinch is commonly used by anglers because it also has a strong hold. When more pull is being applied, the harder the knot turns into itself, increasing the strength of the connection.

Learn more here.

There are a ton of online videos demonstrating the various fishing knots you may need. A good way to practice is to use rope or yarn that is thicker than a fishing line so you can grasp the concept of the knot. Once you get comfortable tying these fishing knots, then practice with different sizes and types of fishing line. 

Smaller lines tend to slip more than thicker lines which makes them hard to tie. Also, monofilament, fluorocarbon, and braid all behave differently. With monofilament being naturally slick, it is harder to tie than fluorocarbon or braid. The most important tip anyone can give to someone learning to tie knots is to practice as much as possible. The more you tie them, the quicker and stronger you will be able to tie them. Obviously, the shorter time it takes to tie a knot, the more time your lure can be in the water. Learn as many knots as possible and find which one fits your needs the best. 


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