Knots really can be an angler’s best friend and their worst enemy at the same time. The good news is that knots don’t have to be the reason that you shy away from fishing and you don’t have to invest in a 300 page book of knots in order to perfect this important art form. There really is no reason to know each and every knot, and as long as you focus and perfect the basics you will be more than prepared to start fly fishing on any water you wish.
The important thing is to practice your basic knots before you head out, that way you aren’t left wondering how you are possibly going to tie on a tippet as you see trout starting to rise from the depths of the water. Once you are comfortable with the basic knots needed for fly fishing then you can start to slowly add a few more knots to your repertoire. You will want to eventually bring in specialty knots such as the loop knot which allows a fly to swim about freely in the water or certain saltwater knots that are perfect for using heavy line.
In order to keep things simple for now, all you really need to know is how to attach your fly with a true fisherman’s knot, how to connect your line to the tippet section of the leader, and how to use a tube nail knot in order to connect a leader to your fly line in case your line does not have a looped end.
The most popular knot around the world for attaching a fly to the tipped is the clinch knot. While it isn’t necessarily easy to tie, it is responsible for catching quite a few fish. However, if you are looking for a stronger knot then the fisherman’s knot, which is also called the Heiliger, Pitzen, or 16-20, is much stronger and can work to connect pretty much any fly to any tippet.
If you are reading this article, then you probably already know these basic knots so let’s just get into some important tips for tying knots to ensure that you have the best day on the water possible. Losing fish based on poor knots can make fly fishing a lot more frustrating than it needs to be.
Important Tips for Tying Knots
When tying knots it is a good idea to use saliva or floatant to lubricate the knot before you pull it all together. Lip balm is also a great add on to use if you are attaching two sections of monofilament together. Form the knot, and then lubricate it with lip balm before everything is pulled tightly.
If you notice curls, abrasions, or any abnormalities when you have pulled a knot together then it is important to cut your knot and start the process all over again. It may take time but deformities caused by friction or heat can easily lead to losing fish when they do strike. These issues are a sign that the line has been drastically weakened and even if the knot itself doesn’t break, the line can often break itself.
Pull your knot tight and make it snug in order to ensure that everything is sealed. With most knots it is important to hold the tag end to make sure that it does not slide out when you pull the knot tight. Be sure to only clip the tag end of the monofilament line once the knot is sealed and completely tight. Clip it so that it is neat and short but be sure not to clip it close enough that the knot can slip out easily.
After you catch a large fish or one with a mouth full of teeth it is a good idea to retie your knot. This is also a good idea if you snag something or end up dragging your line along the bottom. Take the time out to regularly inspect your leader for any abrasions or cuts, because if you don’t then you will end up regretting a lost fish.
Prepare for fly fishing as if every fish could be the one. The extra time taken out to ensure that your knots, leaders, and tippets are in perfect condition could mean the difference between a bucket full of trout and a painful skunking.