It was actually casting that got me thinking about fly fishing knots. I’d mentioned Italian casting to an angler with whom I worked in my days at Trout Fisherman.
“What do I want to know about Italian casting for?” he argued, blue touch-paper well and truly lit. “I only know four casts and I’ve probably caught more fish than most casting instructors put together. You can ram your Italian casts right up your Jackson…”
It was that moment of empathy that came to mind when I considered the subject of fishing knots. There might be a wealth of knotty information out there but if all it does is stir bad memories of Boy Scouts and Girl Guides, you might be of the same resistant mind as my Italophobic fishing partner.
So let’s forget the frills. If you just want to know the strongest and easiest knot for each connector in the tackle set-up, this is for you.
BACKING TO ARBOUR
Strongest – 100 Percent Arbor Knot – “provides for a method of attaching the backing line to a fly reel that delivers 100% line strength (one hundred per cent of the rated breaking strength of the backing line)”
Easiest – Arbor Knot – “The goal here really isn’t in thinking that a knot is going to hold if a fish has taken all the line down to the end your reel spool, but to have something strong enough to hold in the event you lose a rod and reel overboard and have to pull it up by the line.”
BACKING TO FLY LINE
Strongest & Easiest – Albright Knot – “only moderately easy to tie but it is suitable for joining different types of fishing line”. If your fly line has a loop at the back end, connect braid to loop with a Surgeon’s Knot)
FLY LINE TO LEADER
Strongest – Needle Knot – “more streamlined and reliable than tying a Nail Knot”
Easiest – Gray’s Loop Quick & Easy version (scroll down at link) – “I have found this to be a generally secure and reliable fly fishing knot, if not quite as neat as the needle knotted version. This simplified loop can be tied quickly on the riverbank if need be.” [Author’s note: yours truly has also found the equally easy Albright Knot (see above) to be applicable in this context, although as none of his research has found it being endorsed as a line-to-leader knot, it could be that I’ve just been lucky…]
LEADER TO TIPPET
Strongest – Orvis Tippet Knot – “very strong and quite easy to tie…most fly fisherman find that it is easier to construct than the tried-and-true Blood Knot.”
Easiest – Surgeon’s Knot – “…one of the best and easiest to tie knots for joining lines of equal or unequal diameters. In low light conditions or with cold hands or when time is of the essence…When properly tied, the Surgeon’s Knot approaches 100-percent line strength.”
Strongest & Easiest – Dropper Loop Knot – “…the best dropper loop knot is simple, easy, and incorporates just four steps. This fishing knot is also one of the most reliable loop knots, with dropper loop knot strength closer to 100% if comparing with a dropper loop alternative.”
HOOK KNOT (loop for when a loop is needed to allow fly extra movement; snug-fit for when no loop is required)
Strongest – Palomar Knot – At its best with braids but also works well with monofilament and fluorocarbon
Easiest – Davy or Double Davy Knot – “[the Davy] is an excellent small profile knot for very small flies (size 22 to about size 18). We recommend moving up to the Double Davy when tying on flies starting around size 16 and up as it adds extra strength and seems to be more reliable.”
Strongest – Rapala Loop Knot – “a non-slip loop knot that can be tied directly to the lure allowing it to move naturally and freely. It is extensively used in fly fishing.”
Easiest – Surgeon End Loop – “The popularity of the Surgeon’s End Loop lies in its simplicity as well as its strength. Two overhand knots with doubled line and you’re done!”
Fishing knots are like whiskies, of course; we all have our favourites and will defend them strenuously, so feel free to leave a comment…