Do you tie perfect fishing knots every time?
If this sounds like a silly question, then you probably can count yourself among the relatively small number of anglers who truly understands the attention to detail required to consistently execute the perfect connection between your fishing line and the hook that holds your prized catch.
Whether you fish for food or for sport, you will have a considerably more satisfying experience out on the water when your lure and its hook stay secured at the end of your line. Nothing in fishing stings quite as hard as a broken knot.
Now is the time, with the off-season upon us, to refine your knot-tying skills and even add to the options for optimum knot performance.
Most anglers can benefit by perfecting their tying of three basic knots–one for standard attachment of line to hook or lure, another to connect the main line (such as braid) to a mono or fluorocarbon leader, and the third, a loop knot that allows for maximum action of a darting lure.
My go-to knot for nearly every lure-to-line connection is the palomar. I have tied so many palomar knots over the past 50 years that I can do them with my eyes closed. It is simple and quick and probably the most reliable knot for most uses.
For joining leaders and main lines, the double uni knot gets my nod. It is a little complicated compared to a palomar, but with practice, it can be tied, clipped, and tested in less than a minute.
The Kreh loop knot, popularized by legendary fly fisherman Lefty Kreh, is extremely easy to tie quickly. Its main benefit is it allows a jig, fly, or plug to swing freely to tease nearby fish.
Anglers can learn all the popular fishing knots readily these days thanks to the plethora of YouTube tutorial videos. Google and learn.
But even when you know the essential steps of each of the knots, it is a good idea to remember a few basic tips.
Practice tying knots when you have time away from the water. Learn to do them with cold and wet hands and even in low-light conditions.
Always wet your knot before cinching it tight. The friction created by the surfaces of the fishing line dragging against each other generates heat that will weaken the polymer bonds in the lines, whether nylon monofilament or fluorocarbon. Wetting the line with a bit of spit or water will lube the line and keep it cool as you pull it tight.
It also is a good idea to make sure the line overlaps correctly as you complete each step in the process. A misplaced line can create unwanted friction that weakens the knot, leaving it prone to fail. When you finish the knot, test it vigorously. Pull forcefully on the lure (being careful to avoid getting yourself hooked). It’s better to snap the knot in your hand if it is weak than have it break while fighting a big fish.
I like to add a drip of super glue to the palomar knots I tie on the braided line. The braid itself is slippery and sometimes will slip under the load of a big fish. The glue keeps the knot secure.
Knots are one of the few variables in fishing over which anglers have a fair amount of control. Choosing the best knot for your application and tying it correctly will pay dividends.
Out on the water is not the time to worry about learning your knots. Nail the techniques now and you’ll fish more effectively when spring gets us back on the water.
Jack Wollitz’s book, “The Common Angler,” explores the fun stuff that makes fishing a passion for so many people. He appreciates emails from readers. Send a note to email@example.com.