Knots 101

Clinch, Perfection and Double Surgeon Knot in one photoClinch, Perfection and Double Surgeon Knot in one photoHere’s another essay aimed at recent entrees to the sport of fly fishing. As I talk with newcomers, I find that they can be overwhelmed with the multitude of knots that are needed to properly rig a fly line to leader to tippet to fly. I hope that this short essay will simplify the process, and give the newbie a good reference source for learning the necessary macramé.

There are several excellent websites that illustrate a whole array of fishing knots. So, rather than spend my own time trying to illustrate the proper tying procedures for each knot, I’ll provide a link to a some other website that has already done that.

My input will be to describe the use and purpose of the various knots. I’ll try to boil it down to the absolute essentials . . . the absolute minimum. But, having done that, be forewarned. Learn these knots! There will be many times on the river, when you will need to execute the correct knot from memory.

Essential knots:

Nail Knot: For connecting dacron backing to the back end of your fly line, and for connecting the butt of the leader to the business end of your fly line. Easy to tie, and actually fun to tie, IF you use a simple tool (see below).

Perfection Loop: Puts a loop in the butt section of your leader, for those who prefer to use loop-to-loop connections for their fly line to leader. Can also be used to add a dropper fly off your main tippet (see photo).

Surgeon’s Knot: For connecting tippet material to the end of your leader. Used, in general, for connecting two pieces of monofilament to each other, especially if the two pieces are of differing diameters. This is a GREAT knot to know. And, it is easy to learn.

Clinch Knot:
For tying the fly onto the end of your tippet. Note: I have never found the need to use the "improved" Clinch Knot, for either monofilament or fluorocarbon. Just moisten the knot thoroughly before cinching it down tight.

Handy knots (but not absolutely necessary):

Blood Knot: For connecting two pieces of monofilament (or fluorocarbon) together. I have found this to be a tricky (frustrating) knot to master. I much prefer the Double Uni Knot or the Surgeon's Knot.

Double Uni Knot:
An easier version (in my opinion) of the Nail Knot. Very easy to tie, if you use the simple tool below.

Non-Slip Loop Knot: OOOpps! Almost forgot. This knot is designed for those of you that like to tie on your streamers or nymphs so that they have extra "wiggle room" for a more life-like action.

Knot tying tools: There are a variety of tools on the market designed to assist you in completing these knots. In all reality, however, the only knots that really beg for a tool are the Nail Knot and the Double Uni Knot. Each of these can be tied by hand and mastered with persistence. However the use of a simple, inexpensive tool will really shorten the learning curve. Here’s the tool I recommend (and carry in my vest).

Take the time to learn these knots. You’ll be glad you did.