Fly Fishing Knots

If you have never fly-fished before, the only knot you may have ever tied is a simple overhand knot. The overhand knot with a couple of additional twists will hold pretty well if you’re tying on a lure, but with a fly;…forget about it. As soon as you start fly-fishing you will appreciate that knots are very important. You’ll know what I mean the first time you lose a big fish because you used the wrong knot, or the knot was poorly tied. A poorly tied knot will be evident when you examine the end of the tippet and discover a little curly cue in it. This is a sure sign that the knot did not hold because it was poorly tied. 

In my estimation, I would guess that in a typical day of fly fishing;  you may change fly’s a dozen times or more. Every time you do, the tippet becomes shorter. You then have to replace the tippet, which requires you to tie another knot. 

Knowing how to tie the appropriate knot well is as essential to fly-fishing as is the fly line, leader, and tippet.
In fly-fishing, you use knots to: 

  1. Attach the backing to the reel.
  2. Attach the fly-line to the backing.
  3. Attach a leader to the fly-line.
  4. Attach a tippet to the leader.
  5. Attach a fly to the tippet.

The following illustrations show typical knots. knot

The arbor knot. 

This knot is used to attach the backing to the reel.

I show you this picture instead of the nail knot that it ties because this ingenious little tool makes tying a nail knot a snap. You should never be without it; at least keep it in your gear bag or in your vest. When you need to tie a nail knot, you’ll be glad you have it with you. It is one of the items in my Essential list of accessories. When you buy one at Cabela’s it comes with instructions that are clear and easy to understand. You will not be using a nail not very often because the only time you do use a nail knot is when you attach the fly-line to the backing, or a leader to the fly-line. If you buy a reel with line and backing already on it, this job is already done for you; that is, the backing to the fly-line. However, you will still have to attach the leader to the fly line and that’s where this little tool comes in handy. 

 For those of you that don’t have a tie-fast tool; here is the nail knot illustrated: 

The nail knot. Used to attach the fly-line to the backing and leader to the fly-line. nk nk

blood knot is the basic knot used to build a leader, and/or, attach a tippet to a leader. 

 A surgeons knot is used to tie two a tippet to a leader, especially if the two lines are of uneven diameter.

The Blood knot.Surgeons’ knot

The Improved Clinch Knot

The improved clinch knot . The knot to tie the fly to the tippet. clinch knot

Learn to tie this knot because you’ll be using it a lot.

These are the basic knots use by most fly-fishermen. Knots are actually a fascinating subject. Lefty Kreh-Mark Sosin Practical Fishing Knots is a book I have for years and the book covers every conceivable knot you would ever have to deal with. The book is greatly illustrated and filled with information relating to each knots use and its breaking strength.