But before you get too excited about racking up those social media likes with a monster of a largemouth bass, there’s a bit of art and science you should learn to make sure you don’t lose that catch, or your expensive gear: fishing knots.
Don't miss our cheat sheet toward the end of the article for tips and tricks to keep in mind when tying fishing knots!
What are fishing knots?
Fishing knots are a set of knots used to tie fishing line to hooks, lures, and other kinds of terminal tackle. They can connect bait to the hook, join lines, or any one of a number of specific purposes.
One thing to keep in mind is that there are literally dozens of knots out there (sometimes hundreds, depending on who you ask). There are also a bunch of knots that serve identical purposes.
It can be overwhelming to try to learn each one, let alone remember which to use when you’re actually out fishing. But most anglers would agree that knowing at least a few key ones is essential to achieving better angling results.
What makes a good fishing knot?
A good fishing knot is strong, reliable, effective, easy to tie fast, and has multiple uses. Immediately, you’ll probably see how experienced anglers would lean towards different sets of favorites over the years. Some anglers would say one fishing knot is easier and faster to tie than another. If you’re just starting out, there are some crowd favorites you might want to learn.
But first, let's talk about why it's a good idea to know how to tie a strong knot. For me, a good fishing knot is one of the secrets of a productive fishing trip. Remember, your line connects to the hook, lure, or swivel through the knot, making it the critical link between you and the fish. Once the fish is hooked, a strong knot ensures that it stays on the line all the way to your hands or the boat.
Another benefit of a strong knot is that it helps prevent the line from breaking. We've all felt that sting of losing a fish, often because of a weak knot that gave way. A dependable knot prevents this disappointment by holding firm under the stress of a struggling fish.
Additionally, a well-tied knot contributes to better casting. A reliable knot it allows the lure or bait to cut through the water more efficiently.
Plus, let's not overlook the mental aspect. When you know your knot is solid, you fish with greater confidence. You're not second-guessing each cast or tug on the line, and that alone can elevate your game.
Lastly, strong knots are just good economics. They reduce the need to retie your line frequently or replace lost tackle, saving both time and money.
Versatile fishing knots
Some of the fishing knots you should know are the Palomar Knot, Uni Knot, Non-Slip Loop, Blood Knot, and Improved Clinch Knot. Let's talk about them one by one, and learn about how each one is done.
The Palomar Knot
The Palomar Knot is pretty straightforward to tie and known for its strength, making it popular both freshwater and saltwater fishing. The knot works well for various types of lines, including lighter ones like braided lines, and maintains most of the line's original strength. It's good for lines that can handle up to 20 pounds.
How do you tie a Palomar knot?
To tie it, create a loop in the fishing line, pass it through the eye of the hook, then loop the tag end back through and pull both sides to tighten the knot.
The name "Palomar" has a bit of mystery to it, with a couple of theories floating around. One idea is that the knot was created on Mount Palomar in California. Another story suggests it was named after a fireman from Palomar, California, who won a contest for the strongest knot at a fishing show.
Regardless of its origins, the Palomar Knot has proven its worth in many fishing settings. It's versatile enough for specialized rigs like the drop shot, where the hook needs to stand out at a right angle from the line. By using a longer tag end and looping it back through the hook, you can attach a weight for a more natural bait presentation. This knot can also be adapted for a rig with multiple lures, increasing your chances of a catch.
Another workhorse fishing knot is the Uni Knot. It's also known by different names like the Duncan Loop Knot or Grinner Knot, depending on who you ask.
Like the Palomar knot, it's also very versatile. You can use it to attach your fishing line to the reel, tie on lures, or even join two lines together.
How do you tie a Uni Knot/Duncan Loop Knot/Grinner Knot?
Just pass the line through the hook's eye, make a loop, and then wrap the tag end around the line and the loop about 4-6 times. To finish, you pass the tag end through the loop and pull it tight. Don't forget to wet the knot a bit before pulling, as it helps the knot slide and tighten better.
This type of knot was mentioned in the The Ashley Book of Knots, a widely-available illustrated guide on knotting, published in 1944. The knot later gained fame as a fishing knot thanks to Norman Duncan, a popular angler in the 1960s, from whom the name Duncan Loop Knot comes. An editor at the Miami Herald, Vic Dunaway, also popularized the knot in a 1970 fishing book and called it the Uni Knot.
No matter the name, this knot is reliable and keeps a lot of the line's strength, making it a solid choice for all sorts of fishing setups.
The Kreh Loop, also known as the Non-Slip Mono Knot, is another strong and reliable loop knot that many anglers swear by. It's named after Lefty Kreh, a big name in fly fishing. You use this knot to make a secure loop at the end of your fishing line, which is great for attaching a fly or lure.
How do you tie a Non-slip Loop or Kreh Loop?
Make a loop in the line, wrap the tag end around the main line a few times, and then pull the tag end through the loop. You can adjust the size of the loop before you tighten it, which is helpful.
When it comes to tying the the loop quickly and efficiently, using special tools for tying hooks or loops can speed things up. The number of wraps you make around the main line depends on how strong your line is. For lighter lines, you might go for about seven wraps, while heavier lines might need just two. Before you tighten the knot, make sure to wet it a little. This helps the knot slide into place more easily and prevents the line from weakening due to friction.
The Blood Knot is a go-to knot when you need to tie two lines together, especially if they're around the same size. It's super popular in fly fishing for making leaders that taper down in size.
How do you tie a Blood Knot?
To tie it, you line up the ends of the two lines you're joining, twist one line around the other a few times, and then do the same with the other line. After that, you bring the ends back through the loop between the lines. To make it extra strong, aim for at least five wraps on each side. This knot holds up really well and has a breaking strength of about 83%, which is pretty good.
A bit of trivia: The Blood Knot is said to have gotten its name from its old use at the end of whips, like the cat-o'-nine-tails, that were designed to draw blood. But don't let the name scare you; in fishing, it's all about making a solid, reliable connection between two lines.
Improved Clinch Knot
Finally, we have the Improved Clinch Knot, a simple and quick way to attach your line to all sorts of things like hooks, lures, and swivels. It's basically an upgrade of the regular Clinch Knot, with an extra step that makes it more secure.
How do you tie an Improved Clinch Knot?
Put the line through the eye of the hook, wrap it around the main line about 5-7 times, then tuck the end of the line through the first loop you made. Finally, pull that end through the bigger loop you just created. Give both ends a good tug to tighten it up. This knot works well with different types of lines, whether it's monofilament, fluorocarbon, or braided.
The Improved Clinch Knot is especially good for tying leaders to flies. Just keep in mind that it's not the best for very heavy lines; it starts to lose its grip when you go above 30-pound test lines. But for lighter lines, it's a champ. That extra tuck in the final step gives the knot an edge, so you can trust it to hold up even when you've got a big fish pulling hard on the line.
How to Tie Two Fishing Lines Together
There are several knots that can get the job done effectively if you need to join two fishing lines together. Let's look at some of the best knots for this purpose.
Double Uni Knot
One of the most popular and reliable knots for joining fishing lines is the Double Uni Knot. Known for its versatility, this knot works well for all types of fishing lines and holds up in nearly every scenario you'll encounter. With a strength rating of about 90%, you can trust this knot to keep your lines together.
- Overlap the ends of the two lines you want to join.
- With one line, make a loop around the other and tie a Uni Knot by making 5 to 6 turns and pulling tight.
- Repeat with the other line.
- Draw the two Uni Knots together until they lock.
If you're into fly fishing or just need a knot that's both strong and easy to tie, the Surgeon's Knot is your go-to. The number of twists you make in this knot determines whether you're tying a single, double, or triple Surgeon's Knot, giving you flexibility based on your specific needs.
- Place two lines parallel to each other.
- Tie an overhand knot with both lines and pull it snug.
- Make a second overhand knot to complete the double Surgeon's Knot.
- For a triple Surgeon's Knot, simply add another overhand knot.
The Albright Knot specializes in joining two lines of different weights, making it a popular choice in fly fishing for attaching the backing line to the main fly line. This knot is a must-know if you find yourself needing to connect a lighter line to a heavier one already on your reel.
- Make a loop with the heavier line and hold it.
- Insert the lighter line through the loop.
- Wrap the lighter line around itself and the loop 10 times.
- Tighten the knot and trim excess.
Joining sections of monofilament nylon line of similar weight is a breeze with the Blood Knot. This knot is essentially two back-to-back clinch knots and is perfect for tying a 15-pound test line to a 20-pound test line on your reel, for example.
- Place two lines next to each other and twist them around each other several times.
- Now take the ends and insert them through the loop created.
- Tighten the knot by pulling on both lines.
Improved Clinch Knot
Though often used for securing lines to hooks, lures, or swivels, the Improved Clinch Knot is also reliable for joining lines together, particularly monofilament. This knot is dependable for tying lines to all types of terminal tackle.
- Insert one line through the loop of the other.
- Wrap it around 5 times.
- Pass the end back through the loop.
- Tighten the knot.
Braided fishing lines pair excellently with the Palomar Knot. This strong and relatively easy-to-tie knot is best suited for tying line to a hook but can be used for joining lines as well.
- Double your line and form a loop.
- Pass the loop through the eye of the hook or the other line.
- Tie a simple overhand knot.
- Pull both the tag end and the standing line to tighten the knot.
Also referred to as the Two Turn Clinch Knot, the Trilene Knot is ideal for tying line to various forms of terminal tackle. If you’re using monofilament, this knot should be in your arsenal.
- Pass the line through the eye of the hook or through the loop of the other line.
- Twist the tag end around the standing line 5–6 times.
- Insert the tag end back through the loop closest to the eye.
- Tighten the knot and trim excess line.
Do's and don'ts in tying fishing knots
I can't emphasize enough how crucial a strong, reliable knot is when you're out fishing. If it's strong and well-tied, chances are you'll be telling stories about the big catch. But if it's weak or sloppy, you'll be left explaining the one that got away. Consider this your go-to cheat sheet for tying fishing knots that won't let you down.
- Choose the Right Knot: Selecting a knot that fits your specific fishing scenario is crucial. Whether it's a Palomar Knot for hooks or a Blood Knot for joining similar lines, the right knot can make a big difference.
- Lubricate Before Tightening: Always moisten your knot before pulling it tight. The lubrication reduces friction, preserving the strength of the line.
- Tighten with Care: A loose knot is a recipe for slippage. Pull the lines entering and exiting the knot firmly but carefully to secure it properly.
- Protective Gear: When using monofilament lines, wearing gloves can offer dual benefits. They not only protect your hands but also help you tie tighter and more secure knots.
- Trim Tag Ends: Leave a small but sufficient length of line when you trim the tag ends. This prevents the knot from coming undone.
- Consistent Practice: The key to mastering any knot is repetition. Practice until you can tie your chosen knots instinctively.
Knowing how to tie a solid fishing knot is fundamental to having a successful fishing trip. Mastering at least a few reliable knots can make a world of difference, whether you're a seasoned angler or just starting out. From the moment you cast your line to the time you reel in a catch, your knot serves as the crucial link between you and the fish. A strong knot not only secures your catch but also prevents the frustration of line breakage.
So, make the time to learn and practice. You'll not only improve your casting and landing but also fish with more confidence. In the long run, you'll save time and even money by not having to frequently retie your line or replace lost gear. Knowing how to tie a strong and reliable knot is a skill that pays off in more ways than one.