Ultimately, the fish is the most deciding factor in any encounter. The fish doesn’t care how flash your reel is, or whether you have a Portuguese cork grip on a custom built rod. All the fish cares about is getting that weird but amazingly strong little creature out of its mouth. With all the stresses created while the fish is doing this, weak points are put to the test. Knots make or break the day.
We’ve both experienced the sickening realisation that our knots weren’t up to the game; and through our experience we’ve come to appreciate well designed and well tied knots. Both Joe and myself have differing opinions on what knot works best in what context. We are going to take the time to explain what knots we use, and why.
- Joining Mono to Mono (or fluoro)
Double Blood Knot – The reason this knot is used is due to its profile. Compared to the Double Uni knot, the Double Blood offers tapering or ramps on either end of the knot. Having these little ramps allows for the knot to run through the guides without fatiguing it, or it catching on the guides. I typically use this knot for when I am tying my own tapered leaders in fly fishing, or tying a tippet onto a leader.
I agree with Dick on this one – for a simple, strong and smooth-running knot to join monofilament or fluorocarbon lines, it’s hard to go past a double blood knot. That being said, I’d probably use a Uni to Uni knot…
- Joining Braid to Mono (or Fluoro)
Slim Beauty – The slim beauty for me is a great knot and is easy to tie. I have found in my experience that it is strong with a great profile when tied correctly. The doubled over braid creates a little taper or ramp for out-going line. The Slim Beauty is one of the easier knots to tie under the illumination of the head lamp with a breeze blowing down a creek while sitting in a kayak with cold numb fingers. I use the Slim Beauty for all my braid to mono/fluoro connects. This is a knot that excels when attaching two different diameter lines, like braid to heavy mono. When you are tying this just remember to lubricate well, it can be a fiddly knot to tie in brand new braided lines.
Uni to Uni – My go to when joining any lines is the uni to uni knot. I’ve come to this point through trial and error and this is the knot I’ve come to trust above all else. I’ve never had it break during a fight. I’ve never had it pull. It holds up to more abuse than any of the alternatives I’ve used.
Yes, it’s bulkier than others; but I overcome this when joining light mono/fluoro leaders to braided mainline by shortening the leader to keep it from reaching the spool (on a spinning reel). The main catch point with this knot is when it comes arcing off the spool and hits the first eye of the rod, continuing to rattle and shudder all the way out, usually with a sickening (and sometimes line breaking) whack on one of the last 3-4 eyes. Shortening the leader to less than a rod length leaves the knot travelling in a comparatively straight path through the eyes of the rod, with much less clanging. With leaders over 30lb you have to give up on the Uni to Uni, and my next option is the Improved Albright knot.
Improved Albright Knot – Hereafter referred to simply as the Albright; I started out using this knot exclusively to join leader to mainline. I don’t particularly like using it on line weights less than 15lb. The Albright is a bend really – not a knot per se – and braid has trouble gripping on fine diameter leaders. For slightly heavier leaders, however, this knot is pretty good and of a slimmer profile than the Uni to Uni. I highly recommend taking the time to practice and perfect this knot before putting all your faith in it, but once you get it right it shouldn’t give too much trouble.
This is also the knot to use when tying mainline to a knottable wire leader. The strength of the wire is best retained by minimising kinks; so the bend of the Albright, with the mainline wrapped around the wire, keeps things as strong as they are going to be.
- Creating a Loop
Triple Surgeons Knot – This is a knot I use when I am tying a loop on the end of a leader to connect to a braided or welded loop on a fly line. I have never had this knot fail; it feels strong, is easy to tie and is a good knot to know. It has also been recommended to me by more than one person, so by its popularity it has to be a winner.
- Tying Mono to a Swivel/Hook
Uni Knot – On my beach outfit, or when live baiting and I am tying directly onto a swivel or hook I will use the Uni knot. The Uni knot is easy to tie, very strong and since the profile of the knot is not an issue in these applications it’s my prime choice. Ensure you lubricate well, as the friction of the mono/fluoro rubbing on each other can compromise the line.
Did I mention I use the Uni knot for everything?
- Tying Mono/Fluoro to a Lure
Lefty’s Loop Knot – This a great knot when connecting a leader or tippet to a fly/lure as it gives the fly/lure a natural freedom to move. Despite the loop, the knot itself retains a lot of the line strength. I could count the amount of times this knot has broken on one hand, and it was probably mostly due to tying poor knot. I also like this knot because the tag end is facing the lure, so if you are pulling a lure/fly through weeds or other snaggy zones the tag end is less likely to catch on anything. Make sure your loop isn’t too big as you’ll find that you can hook your trebles or fly in the loop of the knot.
*Sometimes I choose not have the lure move naturally, predominantly on bigger surface lures, in this case I will resort back to the Uni Knot to secure the lure to the leader.
Uni Knot – In danger of sounding like a broken record, I make loop connections to lures and hooks/jig heads via the Uni knot. I don’t pull the knot tight, leaving room to allow for increased movement of the lure. This loop gets pulled tight while fighting a fish or tugging on a snag, but can be loosened back into working order simply by getting the fingernails between attachment point and knot and pulling it open again. If things get fatigued I just cut the knot and re-tie it.
Perfection Loop – I use this knot most when attaching a lure/fly to a knottable wire leader. I used to use it to join mono/fluoro to lures, but didn’t like its performance when using light lines.
This is really just a quicker version of the Lefty’s Loop, but I like it and it holds up well in heavier line. The downside with this and the Lefty’s loop is that both of them have an overhand knot within them which creates a weak point; hence me preferring to use the Uni in most cases where strength is most important.
These are the knots we use the most, sure there are other knots that we may use occasionally, like the arbor knot when spooling up a reel or the nail knot in the occasions of connecting fly line to backing in lighter outfits, but they are specialist knots that we don’t tie often. It is handy to be aware of the wide range of knots available, and their intended purpose. Joe and I both feel it is important to practice the knots you will use often, and master them to a point you can tie with confidence. There is nothing worse then losing a fish, lure and leader to a poorly tied knot. We hope this article is useful in selecting a knot that works best for you. There are many great websites, phone apps and books that explain how to tie a knots, a simple Google search will yield many results.