Very few fly fishing knots are 100% of the line’s rated strength. So as a tip to help; moisten the knots before tightening them down.
When you have the knot tightened be sure to check it by pulling on it.Another reason for breaking off fish besides knot strength is abrasion and wear on tippets and leaders. Make sure you check them! A lot of fish are lost over bad knots…
There are four basic fly fishing knots you need to know in order to construct your line properly.
Arbor Knot – knot used to attach the backing to the reel.
Albright Knot – knot used to tie the backing to the fly line.
Nail Knot – knot used to attach the fly line to the leader.
Surgeons Knot – knot used to attach the leader to the tippet
Improved Clinch Knot – used to tie the fly to the tippet.
Knot Tying “Lingo”
- Tag End: The short end of the line or leader used in a knot.
- Standing Part: The main part of the line or londer part of the leader, as opposed to the tag end.
- Turn or Wrap: One complete revolution of a line around another or itself.
- Leader Butt: The thickest end of the leader.
- Overhand Knot: A basic knot, created by forming one loop in the line and passing the tag end through the loop. Weak by itself, it’s a key in building many strong knots.
- Trimming tag ends should be done close to the knot and at a 45 degree angle. It’s always better if you use a tool to do the trimming and not your teeth.
- Moistening monofilament leaders or tippets before drawing knots tight helps reduce knot friction, seats knots and avoids slippage.
*terminology according to Scientific Anglers™
Tying an Arbor Knot
An arbor knot is both easy to tie and does it’s job well, though there are several other knots you can use to secure the end of the backing to the arbor of the reel. It’s strong enough to hold if you drop your rod and reel into a river and pull them back by the line.
Step 1: Circle the arbor of the reel with the tag end of the line, so that you have enough slack to tie two overhand knots total.
Step 2: Tie an overhand knot around the standing part as shown above.
Step 3: Tie a second overhand knot in the tag end no more than two or three inches from the first overhand knot.
Step 4: Moisten the line and the two overhand knots. Hold the reel or spool with your left hand and pull on the standing part of the line with your right hand. The first overhand knot will slide down to the arbor and the second overhand knot will serve as a jam. Trim the tag end so that it doesn’t catch line stored on the spool.
Tying an Albright Knot
The Albright Knot is one of the most reliable connections for joining lines of unequal diameter or different material. The knot itself is not difficult to learn is is definitely worth it.
Step 1: Bend a loop in the tag end of the backing and hold it with your thumb and forefinger. Insert the tag end of the fly line through the loop so that the tag end of the fly line rises above the loop (in the illustration above the fly line was curled so it wouldn’t face upwards). Allow at least 8 to 10 inches on the fly line’s tag end.
Step 2: Slip the tag end of the fly line under your left thumb and pinch it against the two strands of the loop (of the backing). You’re about to make a series of wraps with the tag end all around three strands working from LEFT to RIGHT.
The trick is to move your left hand to continue keeping pressure on the wraps as you make them. The first wrap with the tag end must reverse direction from the left to the right. Try to lay each wrap shoulder to shoulder with the one before it. 12 wraps should be sufficient with a single line.
Step 3: After completing the wraps, insert the tag end of the fly line back through the loop so that it exits on the same side of the loop as it entered. Pull gently on the standing parts to jam the wraps together, holding the wraps lightly with your left thumb and forefinger, and start sliding them toward the closed end of the loop.
Step 4: Hold the standing part of the backing in your left hand and push the wraps with your thumb and forefinger as you pull on the standing part of the fly line. Work SLOWLY so you don’t slide the wraps over the end. Alternate pulling on the tag end of the fly line and the standing part until the wraps are jammed against the tag end. If you would like the tag end even tighter you can use pliers to pull a little extra.
To make sure the knot is securely seated, pull on the standing parts of both lines
Tying a Nail Knot
The Nail Knot requires a small diameter nail, paper clip or similar object about twice the diameter of the fly line. Using a small tube makes the knot easier to tie.However, since we couldn’t find a tube, nail or straw at the time of this, Ben substituted them with a pair of pliers (this is a good plan if you carry some with you and cannot find the other objects!).
Step 1: Here, Ben sets the leader in the pliers and secures it.
Step 2: Make 5 snug wraps around the pliers, leaving enough space between the teeth to sneak the leader and fly line through.
Step 3: After making your wraps, thread the leader through the wraps by pushing it between the teeth of the pliers.
Step 4: Now thread your fly line through the wraps. You may need to open the teeth of the pliers more depending on how thick your fly line is.
Step 5: Gently pull the wraps off the pliers with the leader and fly line strung though. Be careful to not unravel the wraps.
Step 6: Tighten the knot by gently pulling on each end of the leader. (Don’t pull on the fly line yet!) Moisten the knot, inspect knot for smoothness, and tighten the knot by pulling simultaneously on both ends of the leader. Then, pull hard on the fly line to seat the knot. When the knot is seated securely, trim the leader tag end and the fly line end.
Tying an Improved Clinch Knot
Ranking high in popularity for attaching the hook to your tippet, the Improved Clinch Knot is quick and easy to tie. Although it’s breaking strength isn’t the most impressive, this simple fly fishing knot works best with lines testing twelve pounds or less.
Step 1: First thread the tag end of your tippet through the eye of the hook, allowing about 6 inches to be wrapped. Make five turns with the tag end around the standing part of the tippet.
Step 2: After completing the turns, push the tag end through the small loop at the eye of the hook.
Step 3: After pasing the tag end through the first small loop, slip it through the large loose loop formed when you put the tag end through the first small loop by the eye of the hook.
Step 4: Moisten the knot to cause it to slide easier when you pull it. Pull on both the hook and standing part of the line to draw the knot tight. Trim the tag end close to the knot.
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