You have to know a few more than seven knots to cover all of fly fishing, but these seven form the core. With them, the fly fisherman can fish successfully anywhere.
That said, these seven knots have proven or perhaps shown a great deal of success after being used for virtually everything(i.e., ranging from bluegills to tarpon, and the like).
Even so, they are easy to learn, fast to tie, and also have excellent strength.
Table of Contents
The Clinch Knot
For attaching the Fly to the tippet;
You have securely joined all the pieces of your tackle system – backing, line, leader, tippet, and fly – and you have learned the basic knots of fly-fishing.
The most important of these is the Improved Clinch Knot, which you use to tie on your flies. This is because you will use it the most. Even so, the standard Clinch Knot used most of the time to tie on the Fly. Even so, it’s very fast to tie and seated correctly; it is quite strong.
The only caveat with this knot is to use 5 to 7 turns and pull only the long end when tightening it. Hold the short end; do not pull it!. If you pull the short end, the knot won’t turn over correctly.
Then during casting, or worse yet while fighting a fish, the Fly will pop off. This is one of the two key reasons. The other being slippage resulting from an improper hook-wire-to-tippet-diameter ratio.
This is why some anglers berate this knot, despite its proven success with countless fish worldwide.
The Improved Clinch Knot
For attaching the Fly to the tippet;
The Improved Clinch Knot is a modification that clinches against itself, and will always hold, regardless of hook-wire-to-tippet-diameter ratio.
The Surgeon’s Loop
For attaching the backing to the reel;
If you can tie an overhand knot, then you can tie the Surgeon’s knots. To attach the backing to the reel, make the loop about 8 inches long. Stick it into the front on the reel, over the top of the spool arbor, and back out through the same opening it went into.
Put the loop over the reel and draw it tight. When you reel, the loop will lock back against itself. This is a very secure way to attach the backing.
Three Reasons You Should Be Using Loop Knots
Loop knots have an integral place in the way most experienced anglers rig their flies. Despite common misconception, there are a great many loop knots that are exceedingly simple to tie. Sure, there are loop knots that are cumbersome or even difficult to tie.
But some of the best loop knots are easy to learn and to tie streamside. But the main reason that most experienced anglers readily use loop knots is that, in many scenarios, loop knots provide significant advantages over knots that are fixed to the Fly’s hook eye.
The following are a few reasons why, if you’re not already regularly using loop knots in your fishing, you should be. Even beginner anglers will likely be familiar with the most common of these reasons. But the others may be new information even to some of you who’ve been at it for a while.
1. Better / More Natural Fly Movement
This is the justification for loop knots that most anglers learn first and usually in the context of streamers or flies like the wooly bugger. Flies supposed to represent larger, swimming insects in the water have a significantly more natural movement.
This is especially so when attached to your leader or tippet with a loop knot. Instead of being connected with a rigid, fixed connection that restricts the Fly’s movement. Your Fly on a loop knot can slide and float more freely, producing a more natural action.
But this doesn’t apply to only streamers. That said, some anglers have worked loop knots into their repertoire when fishing streamers, but limit their use to those scenarios. The same principle that applies to streamers also applies to wet flies and most certainly applies to dead drifting nymphs.
A more natural movement of the Fly results in a more significant number of takes, resulting in a higher catch rate. Simple.
2. Sink Your Fly Faster
In his book, Fly Fish Better: Practical Advice on Tackle, Methods, and Flies. Noted angler and author Art Scheck highlights a lesser-known reason for choosing a loop knot for your terminal connection: faster fly sink rates.
The logic behind Scheck’s contention is that a weighted fly (tungsten bead head, lead bead chain eyes, etc.). These can adopt a nose-down position and sink faster when its connection to the leader or tippet is flexible.
According to Scheck, Though this effect is more noticeable in still water, it also offers an advantage when using in a stream. The strip-pause retrieve will allow the Fly to sink more readily during the pause.
Though the advantages loop knots offer to flies that need to get deep may not be pronounced. It gives anglers another reason to choose a loop knot when rigging their flies.
Especially when considering that many of the situations described above in which the angler is seeking freer, more natural movement for their flies. These are also situations during which the angler hopes to get their Fly down deep, often quickly.
3. Break Fewer Knots
While all specific claims about knot strength and breakage rates should be taken with an enormous grain of salt. It is valuable to consider that some loop knots are widely held to be stronger than their fixed-connection counterparts.
I would want to consider a loop knot as a favorite. The Non-slip Mono Loop knot is considered by many anglers to have 100% knot strength.
While remembering what I just said about treating strength rate claims and such as considerably dubious, Keep in mind, that means many experienced anglers are suggesting that tying the non-slip loop will in no way degrade the strength of your leader or tippet.
You’ll have a hard time finding people to make that claim about fixed knots such as the clinch knot, improved clinch knot, or even the Orvis knot.
The Surgeon’s Knot
For connecting two pieces of leader material;
Here’s a handy tip about tying this knot when it’s nearly dark, the mosquitos are biting fiercely, and the fish are rising furiously. Instead of making one loop and putting the ends through twice, go around twice to make two loops then put the ends through once.
That’s right, twice around, and once through is the same as once around and twice through. The twice around and once through is easy to do on your fingers, even in total darkness.
The Blood Knot
For connecting two pieces of leader material;
The Blood Knot is so-called because people seemingly sweat blood when learning to tie it. This knot isn’t hard to understand, and it’s a great connection between pieces of mono.
The Blood Knot is thinner in diameter than a Surgeon’s Knot and hangs up less in weeds. It can even combine materials of different diameters by employing variations such as the 5/7 Blood Knot.
The (Nailless) Nail Knot
For connecting the backing and the fly line, leader and Fly line, two pieces of leader material, for tying a sliding loop on the Fly and for attaching the backing to the reel.
Some Nailless Nail Knot is a variation of the Uni-Knot or Duncan’s Loop Knot. It’s used to attach the backing to the rear end of the fly line, and the leader or the connector to the front end of the fly line.
Some anglers have used the Uni-Knot since 1973 but didn’t figure out the Nailless Nail Knot variation until 1986. Howbeit, they’ve used it continuously ever since.
The Perfection Loop
The Perfection Loop is used at the end of the connector and at the end of the leader to provide a loop-to-loop juncture because the Perfection Loop forms in entirely direct alignment with the mono.
A Surgeon’s Loop angles off to the side of the material and can cause the connector-leader juncture to twist.
While the Perfection Loop looks complicated, it is relatively easy and swift to tie. It is just a series of loops. The trick is to get the short end of the material behind the long end when forming the first loop. After that, it’s just a couple of loops, one wrapped over the other between the first two.
Six(6) survival knots everyone should know;
Knowledge of these easy-to-tie knots can prove vital in sticky situations.
It is paramount that all fishermen should have a passing knowledge of the core fishing knots. Some even grudgingly learned to expand their repertoire of fishing knots after losing a big trout to a hastily-tied surgeon’s knot.
What’s often overlooked, though, is how the knots they use for fishing translate to operating in a survival situation. A blood knot might not be the solution for stringing up a hammock, but the theory of binding two pieces of rope together very well could help in a myriad of dire moments.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most basic knots all of these fishermen need to know.
The Square Knot
Also known as the Reef Knot, the Square Knot is familiar to anyone who attended Cub Scouts. It’s simple to tie, yet it has a ton of potential uses.
The Square Knot is most commonly used to bind two pieces of rope together. This is especially true if you need to strap something down and make sure it stays down.
For example, think of building a lean-to but running out of pine branches to use roof thatching. In that case, ripping up a tarp or emergency blanket and strapping it to the lean-to will prevent water from getting in and heat from getting out.
The Clove Hitch
This knot gets a lot of love from the climbing community. So it’s considered by many of the experts to be a must-know knot for survival. It’s quick, easy to tie, and bears a pretty hefty load without sliding. It’s not as strong as a Figure Eight, but as a quick fix, it’s incredibly useful.
The Sheet Bend
I’m a bit surprised this knot isn’t used in angling, though I don’t know if it’d work well with tippet. Regardless, the Sheet Bend is uniquely important because it can join together ropes of different thicknesses. You can even tie together ropes that are made from vastly different materials.
Suppose you find yourself in a survival situation with different types of rope (say, fly line, and paracord). Then the Sheet Bend gives you the flexibility to effectively use all of the string at your disposal.
The Water Knot
Another knot used widely in the climbing community is the Water Knot. This knot is a great way to secure webbing belts or straps together. The water knot has been used extensively in rappelling and canyoneering. This knot, when tied with high-strain materials, it’s nearly impossible to loosen.
This knot is especially helpful because it can be used with something almost every angler has at their disposal—a wading belt. Whether you need to create a robust weight-bearing knot or have to join together long, flat pieces of material, the Water Knot will get the job done.
The Rolling Hitch
This is similar to tying a tag on an existing piece of leader to more effectively fish nymphs. The Rolling Hitch adds a “leg” to your current line.
In a survival situation, this knot would work well to quickly adjust your tent or even help keep a pack off the ground at night.
The Timber Hitch
The last knot on the list is perhaps one of the more versatile. The Timber Hitch is used to secure the rope to a cylindrical object (like a tree) for either support or hauling.
This knot is especially useful if you need to tie a tarp to a tree to create a shelter. In extreme survival situations, you could haul more massive logs to a burning pile used to create a smoke signal.
As much as fishers don’t like to think about it—at least, some don’t. Just knowing these basic survival knots could save a life at some point. With the amount of time spent in the backcountry, you never know when something will go wrong.
Hell, just a couple of months ago, a fisherman was in Montana, hiking along a remote stretch of river when he stopped to drink from a spring. He’d had water from more springs than he could count, but this one? It gave him giardia.
The point is, you should always be prepared for the worst, and the knowledge of these basic knots helps you do just that.
Get To Know More About Indispensable Fly-Fishing Knots:
Before ever putting your line in the water, it’s essential to be familiar with some basic knots you’ll need. This will be the same for any fly-fishing trip you take.
This will allow you to enjoy a day of fishing. Not a day of trying to keep your backing, fly line, leader, tippet, and fly all secured to one another.
For this reason, it is highly recommended that you spend some time practicing these knots before getting to the water.
Things you’ll want to keep in mind when learning to tie fly fishing knots is the size of your line. This is as easy as matching the numbers on your fly line to the numbers on your fly rod and reel.
By matching the components, you’ll have the advantage of a balanced setup for the best possible performance. Fly line packaging typically provides information so you can find the line that best meets your needs.
From there, you can determine the size of the leader and tippet needed. All that being said, to be sure you have just what you need for great fly-fishing. Meanwhile, knots can be one of the most frustrating parts of fly fishing.
What Fly-Fishing Knots Should You Know Before Getting To The Water?
Here, you’ll find some of the basic knots for fly-fishing. To help ensure you spend more of your day fishing rather than trying to keep everything together.
When attaching your Fly to the tippet, the Eugene Bend knot is a quick, easy, and str knot. This is a knot that you can master in no time.
This one is also known as the Pitzen Knot. You’ll be glad you know it when it comes time to replace or change your Fly.
The Blood Knot is a standard knot you should know when rebuilding tapered leaders.
The Improved Clinch Knot is another one to know when attaching flies on a line under a 12-pound test.
The Nail Knot is one of the essential knots that everyone looking to go fly-fishing should know. It’s primarily used to attach the leader to the fly line. But it can also be used to secure the backing and the fly line.
The Perfection Loop Knot is great for attaching two looped pieces of monofilament. This can also prove to be very convenient for quickly changing leaders.
Also used for attaching two pieces of monofilament line is the Surgeon’s Knot. This knot can sometimes be preferable to the blood knot.
If using a fluorocarbon tippet, it is recommended you use the Orvis Tippet Knot instead so you can enjoy the full strength of the tippet. Learn these fly-fishing knots and enjoy your next fishing trip with confidence.