Knot Wisdom

Knots: you either love ‘em or you hate ‘em. If you’re a lover of knots, you must know how to tie them; if you’re the latter, maybe it’s time to sharpen up your skills.

Personally, I tend to botch certain knots and nail others – my character flaw, perhaps? Either way, learning and perfecting your knot tying is critical to keeping fish on the line. They are your tether, your lifeline to that wild, finned friend (like the above cutt-bow). And many of us know all too well that if a knot gives out, free they run.

So, to share a little knot inspiration and build that weekend chase stoke, we reached out to some fly fishing guides and some other great fishy folks across the country to share their favorite knots. Read on for a little knotty goodness from these fishy friends.

Blood Knot

“When I was 16 to 17 years old, my godfather – a super avid fly 6’9” farrier and fisherman – gifted me the same Orvis flyfishing pack I use to this day. In the pack, he included nippers, gink, and a piece of paper with several different knots written on it. It might be hard to believe, but I still have those pieces of paper stashed in my fly pack. But to be honest, the only one that ever stuck with me was the blood knot! I tie it whenever I tie on just about anything, and have even used it in my everyday life when I’m tying ropes together when working with horses.” – Rain Reich, Fly Fisher in Colorado

Rain ties on another fly in southern Colorado. Image courtesy of Rain Reich (@rainreich)

Clinch Knot

I use 2 simple knots for trout fishing. My go to is the Clinch Knot, because this is a strong knot that can be tied quickly. I grew up using the improved clinch knot, but have switched to the standard clinch for two reasons. First, that extra step means extra time which can translate into lost water if you are on a boat and can’t anchor because of private property or high current velocities. Second, the extra step can lead to a bad knot and a waste of tippet. While the clinch is easy to tie, it is critical that every time you tie it, you look very closely to make sure the knot slides into a perfect series of loops around the main line like a noose. If the wraps overlap, tie again. A good trick is to maintain tension on both the fly and leader as you slide the knot into place. As mentioned, this knot is a tippet saver if done properly, which is particularly important if you tie flies onto tags. – Kevin Terry, Guide at South Fork Anglers in Colorado

Get Better At Knots By Fishing More Often
If tying knots takes a little too long, you need to start fishing more.

“D uses the clinch knot the most, but if she thought hard enough I think she would agree that the whip finish that she does with her fingers (she is very happy to not need the tool anymore) would be the one she is most proud of. She also ties a no slip loop knot for streamers and knows the loop to loop girth hitch.” – Lil’ D & Jud, daughter/father duo Fly Fishers in Texas

Non-Slip Loop Knot

“The second knot I use for trout is the non-slip loop knot, which I use for streamers and large nymphs. The non-slip loop is another easy tie and provides a lot more wiggle when fishing flies that should have a lot of action. This is beneficial for streamers of course, but also good for swinging soft hackles or large nymphs. I have some friends that prefer this knot for all subsurface patterns, even the tiny stuff.” – Kevin Terry, Guide at South Fork Anglers in Colorado

“I prefer non-slip loop knot to add a little action to the flies since we are using stiff hard mono tippet and leader” – Ben Paschal, Guide/Owner at Laguna Madre Outfitters in Texas

Triple Surgeons Knot

“I love the triple surgeons knot. I have a really hard time with the blood knot, especially when working with 5x and 6x here on our heavily-pressured Colorado front range waters. It is a nice alternative and easier to tie when your hands are cold and working with small tippet in my opinion!” – Jill, Fly Fisher in Colorado


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3 thoughts on “Knot Wisdom

  1. Jack January 25, 2020 / 5:04 pm

    Many years ago I improvised a blood knot took out of copper wire with 2 two aligator clips and a tooth pick. Still have it and it’s a go to

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