There are seemingly zillions of fishing knots out there and every fisherman swears by the knot they’ve been using for years. Fly fishing has its own large list of knots to perfect.
Where do you even begin when it comes to learning fly fishing knots? What knots should you start with? It can be overwhelming and confusing. But it doesn’t have to be!
We’re going to focus on some basic fly fishing knots and a few of our favorites. This guide will cover these knots step-by-step so you can try them out yourself.
What to Keep in Mind When Working With a Fly Fishing Knot
Before we get started, here are a few tips that’ll make knot tying that much easier.
- When you pull your leader and tippet into a knot, pull fast. This prevents it from snagging.
- When you trim the tag end, don’t trim it all the way down but you shouldn’t trim it too far either. A good rule of thumb is to leave it at the size of your pinky nail.
- When you pull the knot together, pull it with some strength. It’ll help you determine if the knot is correct or if you should redo it.
- If you’re having a problem working with a leader or tippet, don’t be afraid to moisten them so you can work better.
- The same goes if you’re having issues with your knot when you go to close it up. Moisten it and it closes together smoother.
The Clinch Knot (or Fisherman’s Knot)
You can use the Clinch Knot (sometimes referred to as the Fisherman’s Knot) to attach a fly to the tippet. It can also be used to attach a tippet on the bend of the hook.
1. First, insert about five inches of the tippet through the hook eye.
2. Twist the tag end around the tippet five times. It should be leading away from the hook.
3. Take the tag end and bring it back towards the hook. Push the tag end through the opening you created between your first twist and the hook eye. You’ll see the loop it created sitting over the twisting tag end.
4. Now, push the tag end through the tippet loop. Pull it until the knot starts to close.
5. Dampen the knot that you’ve begun. Pull the standing part of the tippet and the hook. The knot should tighten up the hook eye.
6. Trim the tag end.
The Double Surgeon’s Knot
The Double Surgeon’s Knot is perfect for attaching the tippet to the leader. It also works when attaching a leader to a leader.
This is an essential knot but it’s also one of the toughest to get used to.
1. Place the leader and tippet side by side. It needs to overlap for six or seven inches and the ends need to face in opposite directions.
2. Hold the standing leader and tag end with your left thumb and forefinger. With your right hand, tie an overhand knot using the leader and tag end.
3. Pull the tippet through the overhand knot loop. Wait to tighten the knot.
4. Hold the loop with your left hand. Make another pass through the overhand knot you’ve already started. Pass the tippet all the way through like you did the first time.
5. Pull the leader and tippet slowly at the same time, one in each hand. Before you close the knot, moisten it to make the process smoother. Then, finish pulling the ends. This closes up the loop to make the knot.
The Nail Knot
The Nail Knot is a knot that attaches the leader to the fly line.
Before you get started, you need a tube. This is what nail knot tools for but not everyone has one of these tools. We like to take apart ballpoint pens and use the tube on that.
1. With your left thumb and forefinger, hold onto your tube and the end of the fly line. Make sure around two inches of the tube and the line sticks out to the right.
2. Create a two-inch loop on the heavy end of the leader. You’ll have to do this with your right hand.
3. Pinch this loop when your left thumb and forefinger. Hold it next to the tube and line you have together.
4. With your right hand, take the short end of the loop. Twist it tightly around the tube and fly line five times. Make sure it’s a half an inch from the end of the line.
5. Move your left thumb and forefinger to hold the twisted leader. This stops it from untwisting while you’re busy with other tasks.
6. From right to left, push the tag end of the leader through the tube. Once you’re finished with that, slide the tube to the left to remove it.
7. Start to tighten the knot by tugging lightly at both ends. Don’t tighten the knot all the way yet. Be careful not to pull on the fly line while you’re starting the knot.
8. Moisten the knot. Pull the knot all the way closed by pulling both ends of the leader.
9. Trim both the tag end of the leader and the line end.
With all the fishing knots out there, it’s hard to decide what ones to start with so we wanted to share our favorite fly fishing knots: the Clinch, the Double Surgeon’s Knot, and the Nail Knot. Each knot has its purpose. We hope this article helps you achieve success with fly fishing and with your knots. Remember, practice makes perfect! Give each a try and don’t give up.
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