Knot Sense - By Ric McNulty
By Ric McNulty
I never made it to the Boy Scouts so until I started fly fishing a “granny knot” and a “square knot” were the only two knots that I could tie. I think that this is one area that a lot of fly fishermen are deficient in. Some make the mistake of buying a knot book and trying to learn every knot in the book. Still others rely on one or two knots for all their needs. I have found that if you concentrate on one or two knots for each situation, and practice those knots until you can tie them under any circumstance, that is all you will ever need. Having said this, here are the 6 knots that every fly fisherman should know.
1) IMPROVED CLINCH KNOT – This knot pretty much goes without saying. Anyone who has ever wetted a hook should know how to tie a clinch knot. This knot is used to attach the fly to the tippet.
2) NAIL KNOT – This is the knot that everyone loves to hate. Because it is used so rarely and has such a specific use, most fly fishermen rely on their local fly shop to “fix them up”. Because the nail knot is so specific to fly fishing, and because you can’t take your local fly shop guy with you on every trip, I think every fly fisherman should have a working knowledge of this knot. I am not a big fan of “knot tying tools”. In the time that it takes to learn how to use most tool you usually can master the knot. However, there is a tying tool for the nail knot that is an exception to the rule. It can be purchased in most fly shops and it makes tying a nail knot much easier. I have two. I keep one at home and the other in my tackle bag. I don’t have to use it much, but when I do it makes the nail knot a cinch. This knot is used to attach the fly line to the backing and to put a loop on the other end of the fly line.
3) BLOOD KNOT – This knot is used to attach two lines of similar diameter, such as adding tippet to the leader. This is a little harder to tie than a “surgeon’s knot”, but when tied properly it is a smoother and stronger knot.
4) ALBRIGHT KNOT – This is similar to a “blood knot” and can be substituted in most cases. I prefer to use this knot over a “blood knot” when I am joining pieces of material of different diameters. This is a good knot to use when building your own leaders.
5) PERFECTION LOOP – Use this knot to make a loop in the butt section of the leader so that you can attach the leader to the fly line with a loop-to-loop connection or any time you need to make a perfect loop. It is called a “perfection loop”, because when it is tied properly, the loop is in perfect line with the leader. I also use this knot to put a loop on the other end of my leader. This enables me to attach tippet material with a loop-to-loop connection. I do not recommend this for trout or any fish that is leader shy, but for bass, redfish and other big fish it is a quick and efficient way to change tippet.
6) NO NAME LOOP- I think I made this one up myself. I use this knot to attach the fly to the tippet. This knot is a must any time you are using tippet material 16 lbs. and above, but it can also be used with the smallest fly. If heavy tippet material is cinched down to the eye of the hook it will influence the movement of the fly. Attaching the fly with a loop knot will give the fly free and independent movement. The “perfection loop” will not work in this situation, hence, two loop knots.
These are the 6 knots that I use 99% of the time. There are other knots that work just as well in the same situations. Feel free to substitute with knots that you are more comfortable tying. When learning how to tie a new knot practice on old fly line. It is bigger and it is much easier to see what you are doing. When you feel comfortable with fly line then move to mono. Always wet your knots before cinching them down. Most knots breakage is caused by friction on the mono while the knot is being tied.
Re: Knot Sense - By Ric McNulty
Good list Ric. I find myself using fewer knots as time goes on. My list:
I use a hemostat Uni (or Duncan Loop) for a versatile fly-tippet loop, fly tippet knot, and I can even Snell it directly to the hook shaft for dry control. I also can use opposing Uni knots to build a leader faster than any other system.
I was using a nail knot for line to leader but have switched to the Zap-a-gap junction, because it slips even nicer through my tip top and no hinging or snagging like a loop-to-loop.
I have been using a tippet ring instead of loop-to loop at the leader-tippet junction which snags less, is great for a dropper tie off, can join markedly different diameter tippet, and is easily locatable on my reel. Once again the hemo-Uni is a fast and reliable way to tie to the ring.
I'll admit I do like the Davy knot for the quickest terminal knot, but even so, I'm down to two knots...and I was a Boy Scout!!! :army:
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