How might a triple surgeon's knot be compromised?

thomasw

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I agree with SS about the blood knot / improved blood knot in leader construction. I use them in the last 2/3 of my leaders. In fact, i will use a back to back nail knot in the butt sections of a leader for salmon/steelhead. Same function as the blood knots but I find the 3 turn/side back to back nail knot seats more tightly and cleanly than blood knots in larger diameter mono/fluoro. As a bonus, the back to back nail knot is slightly stronger than a blood knot. With trout, I still use the back to back nail knot with larger mono, not because I think the extra strength is req'd, but rather because i find it is just a clean and tight knot when seated which tends to capture less debris and nick my guides more smoothly... I find blood knots in larger diameter are challenging to seat cleanly/tightly ... perhaps I have wimpy pulling strength :)
 

Ard

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I think that the most important phase (difficulty) of creating a good double surgeons knot is the control of all four strands of line as the knot is tightened. If any one strand is not at equal tension with its kin the knot will be less that good.

If it matters, prior to the past 16 years I used a Perfection loop knot whenever the need to form a loop arose. Here for 16 seasons I realized that the double surgeons knot seemed not to break like the aforementioned Perfection loop. To be clear, I do not recall one of them breaking. The thought that a Triple Surgeons Knot could somehow be better has never once crossed my mind., how would I know if there had been an improvement? Prior to my moving to Alaska I was what I would call an occasional salmon and steelhead fisher because I had to travel to fish for them. I had plenty of tippet issues back then because I wasn't catching enough fish to enable me to spot a pattern. It was however clear that almost 100% of failures occurred at the loop knot, I just accepted it as collateral damage and fished on. Here the catching rate was intense sometimes at upwards of 30 fish per day and the problems were quickly sorted out.

Until this post showed up I had never heard of a triple surgeons knot and so I abstained from offering any personal experiences or opinion until there was ample feedback to the question. In the 2020 fishing season I don't think I caught more than 3 fish that were not of sufficient size and strength to burst a 4X leader. I like to stay away from postings that could appear to be boasting about size of fish so I don't talk size much.

I'm sure we have members here who have far greater experience than I when it comes to the catching of heavier fish like trout - salmon and steelhead and so my opinion isn't put forth as being law it is just my own opinion based on repeated experiences over time. I do not have any use for 4X line here regardless of it being Fluorocarbon or Monofilament, it is simply not strong enough for big game fishing unless the object of the exercise is to record unusually long episodes of attempting to land some poor fish. I've managed fish from 4 1/2 pounds right up to 50 pounds all on 15 pound tippet connected to my braided loop via the double surgeon knot and do not recall the last broken tippet. Fish are landed with little fanfare unless they are truly huge specimens and quickly released or dispatched if I am planning to take one for the purpose of eating fish.

I know that people have been chasing steelhead with various forms of strange nymph rigs ever since I was young. I even tried it back in 1993 for almost an hour myself. These are fish that present what I consider to be the highest level of challenge to a genuine fly fisherman or woman. To become experienced enough that you can repeatedly catch them year after year on traditional fly fishing tackle and what many recognize as Steelhead Flies means that the fisherman has arrived at the place he or she dreamt of when they were very young. Today in our time there has been more of what I would call publicity surrounding the species known as steelhead than ever before meaning there are more outlets for publicizing both the fish and the presumed glamor associated with catching them. Because of this I'll call it hype, people will use what ever means they can employ to capture a steelhead trout. In the case of those who would use the plastic beads commonly referred to as 'eggs' and some ridiculously light leader to present tiny nymphs I only have compassion for the fish who must endure living for whatever period of time it may take for the hook to become dislodged from their mouth after they escape.

Now that I've said enough to increase my level of unpopularity I would urge those who insist on trying this fast track of nymphing for steelhead to be aware of where you are treading in the river beds. If you live in areas where there are brown trout the river may very well be home to countless nesting sites / redds. In spring when the rainbow trout and all their relatives are spawning this is also a problem unless the state department of F&G closes streams and rivers to fishing to protect spawning fish. And for the record the salmon here are not caught by me on or near beds, they are fished for as they enter the rivers and eschewed as targets after they turn. Steelhead? I have no interest in hearing about a body count obtained through any means other than fishing a streamer for them.

Of course I will apologize to anyone who feels I have targeted them with some of what I wrote. It's just for the few traditionalists left in the game to remain silent always.
 

proheli

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The easiest way for a triple surgeon's knot to get compromised is to get caught with a triple nurse's knot. Then it all ends up in court with alimony and treble damages. The worst possible outcome. Don't risk it; use a blood knot, and stay away from that triple surgeon's knot.
Good advice. You could also say, stay away from the tripple nurses knot, especially if you have already tied matrimony knot, or you may find yourself with an unwanted blood knot.
 
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ReetsAdeets

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I use double surgeons but can't imagine it would be different than a triple...Are you tying your dopper onto the top tag of the surgeon knot that points up towards your line or the tag that points down toward your point fly? Using the tag that points up is not nearly as strong as the one that points down, though using the top tag won't get your line twisted up as much.
 

Meuniere

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I had once heard that a triple surgeons knot worked better for joining two pieces of line of fairly uneven diameters, a double for lines where the diameters are reasonably close. Have no idea if that's true-
 

sweetandsalt

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Ard, my distaste for Surgeon's Knots is for joining sections of leader segments. For loops I totally concur with you, Surgeons Loops are far stronger than Perfection Loops. The Perfection is only viable in butt material like .021" and up and must be tightened hard from both standing and tag ends. I'm also in total agreement with you, that regardless of regulations, no wading will be done by me when the spawn of any species of Salmonidae are in the gravel. Yes I might wish to fish but honor the season formerly known as the Closed Season for the sake of the fish.
I had once heard that a triple surgeons knot worked better for joining two pieces of line of fairly uneven diameters, a double for lines where the diameters are reasonably close. Have no idea if that's true-
For disparagingly differing diameters, the Albright Knot is ideal. Jimmie Albright originated it for tying shock tippets for the abrasive mouths of tarpon. It is also used for wire tippets for Bluefish, Barracuda and other toothy critters.
 

Lamarsh

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I agree with SS about the blood knot / improved blood knot in leader construction.
I agree, except it is harder to tie those kinds of knots when simply patching in a 10" piece of tippet 12-18" up on a 4' piece of tippet, as is done on most euro nymphing leaders. Before I figured out how to do that with the triple surgeons, I just used a double uni and left a tag end. It worked fine strength wise, but when I read about guys like Devin Olsen and George Daniel's setups, they all use triple surgeons because they claim the tag sits at an angle that is less likely to tangle. I have no idea whether this is true, but one thing I can attest to is that it is easier to tie in. Why the triple and not the double, I have no clue... but one thing I have noticed is that my surgeons loops come out nicer looking as triples compared to doubles.

If it matters, prior to the past 16 years I used a Perfection loop knot whenever the need to form a loop arose. Here for 16 seasons I realized that the double surgeons knot seemed not to break like the aforementioned Perfection loop.
I agree, but I'll also add I also like the shape of the surgeons loop knot better than the perfection loop. Not sure if it's just the way I tie perfection loops, but mine seem to come out with a slight tilt on the loop, whereas my surgeon's loops do not. I also find the surgeon's loop to just be quicker and easier. Never could get perfection loops to "perfection," if you will.

In the case of those who would use the plastic beads commonly referred to as 'eggs' and some ridiculously light leader to present tiny nymphs
I've never fished with beads, but got nothing against them. I tie my eggs with chenilles like estaz and slush jelly. Not a complicated "fly," but they work. Beads are also not legal to use in flies only sections where I live.
 

MichaelCPA

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I agree with SS about the blood knot / improved blood knot in leader construction. I use them in the last 2/3 of my leaders. In fact, i will use a back to back nail knot in the butt sections of a leader for salmon/steelhead. Same function as the blood knots but I find the 3 turn/side back to back nail knot seats more tightly and cleanly than blood knots in larger diameter mono/fluoro. As a bonus, the back to back nail knot is slightly stronger than a blood knot. With trout, I still use the back to back nail knot with larger mono, not because I think the extra strength is req'd, but rather because i find it is just a clean and tight knot when seated which tends to capture less debris and nick my guides more smoothly... I find blood knots in larger diameter are challenging to seat cleanly/tightly ... perhaps I have wimpy pulling strength :)
Watched an Ed Ward video (he was trying triple surgeons loops in Lazar backing) and learned this trick: wear rubber or leather gloves and really pull on your knots. Hold the tension and watch the knot shrink as it seats.
 

osseous

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A knot has to be strong in two ways- static, a steady pull- and dynamic, a sharp tug. If you tighten that surgeons knot wrong (by pulling only on the running ends, not evenly on all 4 segments) it will fail pretty easily on a dynamic test. It cuts into itself when seated this way.

I have seen formal knot tests (always static, unfortunately) where the triple surgeons outperforms the blood knot. Experience fishing both knots has shown just the opposite for me- and I chock this up to static strength vs dynamic. Same goes for a Eugene Bend vs an Improved Clinch for attaching the fly. EB tolerates shock better


(And if it's anything like mine, that Cortland is actually 3X when you measure it, not 4X like the label says...)
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Acheron

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An incorrectly tied surgeons knot may last for a while but will fail. For isntance, if you tie it using both butt ends instead of using one butt end and one tail end to create the knot, it may actually work for a while but given a good quick tug, will fail.

Another way to look at it is, if you hold your surgeons knot up to the sky, do both tag ends come out from the same side? If yes, you are doing it wrong.

:)
 

Acheron

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Are you thinking about the Blood Knot?....

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No, I am talking double/triple surgeons join and an incorrect way to tie it which may work for some time and some fish but is extremely weak. I cannot find a picture representing a bad tie, but if you lay the butt ends together and perform a surgeons join, you will end up with both tag ends sticking out of the same side, which is incorrect. I'll try it tonight if I have time :)

This is the correct look with the tag ends on each side of the join:
 

trev

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No, I am talking double/triple surgeons join and an incorrect way to tie it which may work for some time and some fish but is extremely weak. I cannot find a picture representing a bad tie, but if you lay the butt ends together and perform a surgeons join, you will end up with both tag ends sticking out of the same side, which is incorrect. I'll try it tonight if I have time :)

This is the correct look with the tag ends on each side of the join:
How did you get those strands to lay in perfect uniform rounds rather than pulling into a figure of eight like everyone else knots do?
 

trev

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I have not seen that either, it's why I asked. I used to know every knot in the Bluejackets Manual, but most of them have escaped over the years.

I should ask too, what exactly was done wrong in the video?
 

osseous

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Yup- gotta pull all 4 ends equally. But it cannot set like the graphic above.

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LOC

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Maybe, pulling on the two main lines at the end to tighten it down? I have always thought that all 4 need to be pulled equally (I can confirm in fact, imho).

Yup- gotta pull all 4 ends equally. But it cannot set like the graphic above.

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Trying to wrap my head around what you guys are suggesting that will make the knot prematurely fail.
As shown in the video I tie my triple or double surgeons knot in a similar way.

I make the knot and pull on all four ends as equally as possible to tighten the knot.
Then I take the two main line ends as in the video and pull those tight again.

It sounds like what you guys are suggesting that that step is wrong?
 
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