Arbor Knot (Backing to Reel)
The Arbor knot is very easy to tie and is used to fasten your backing to the reel.
- Wrap the line around the arbor of your spool and tie an overhand knot around the standing line.
- Tie a second overhand knot on the tag end a few inches from the first.
- Moisten the line and the two overhand knots. Tighten the smaller knot and holding the spool in your left-hand pull on the standing line with your right hand sliding the first overhand knot against the arbor of the spool. The second overhand knot will keep this from slipping. Trim the tag end.
Albright Knot (Mono to Braided or Wire)
The Albright knot is used in situations where you need to join two lines of greatly unequal diameter or of different material. Mostly used in saltwater situations, I prefer this knot for joining of fly line to backing material.
- Loop the heavier line (wider diameter) and place it between your thumb and index finger of your left hand. Pass the lighter line through the formed loop leaving yourself about 8 inches. Pinch the lighter line in with the line already in your left hand. (See illustration 1)
- Make approximately 10 wraps with the lighter line wrapping away from you and working from left to right. With each wrap, work your thumb and index finger along holding these wraps in place, trying not to let up any pressure on your left hand. On the 10th wrap, come around and then through the remaining loop. Taking the standing line in your right hand pull gently as you push the wraps with your left hand towards the closed loop. Alternate between the end of the lighter line and on the standing part until the wraps are against the tag end. Make sure the wraps do not go over each other and that you don’t push them to far. Pull the tag tight then pull on the standing part of both lines until the knot is secure.
- Finally, clip the two short pieces close to the knot.
Nail Knot (Leader to Fly Line)
The Nail knot is one of the most important knots that every fly fisherman should learn. There are a few variations in the way this knot is tied. The angler can use a tube or a needle in replacement of the nail. With a little practice, this knot can be tied very quickly. Most common area for use is attaching the leader to the fly line. It can also be used to attach the fly line to the backing.
- Place a nail between the fly line and leader. Wrap the leader back towards the end of your fly line about 6 times. (See illustration 1)
- Pass the end of your leader back through the loops you just made. After the leader is through, pull on both ends of the fly line and leader trying not to have the loops cross each other. Holding with fingers, remove nail.
- Moisten and snug down by pulling both ends away from each other. Clip excess line and leader close to the formed knot.
Surgeon’s Knot (Monofilament to Monofilament)
The Surgeon’s Knot is a knot also used for attaching two pieces of monofilament together. It is a very fast and easy knot to tie and is usually preferred more than the blood knot. This is a great knot for joining two pieces of monofilament that are greatly different in diameter. When you are building a tapered leader, tied correctly, this knot is generally stronger than the blood knot. Very quick and easy knot for attaching 4X-5X-6X-7X tippet to each other. You can do this one in the dark.
- The main line should come in from the left and the line to be attached should come from the right. Overlap the two pieces approximately 6 or so inches. (See illustration 1)
- Pinch the overlapped lines together on the left between your thumb and index finger. Do the same with the sections on the right and make a loop by crossing it over itself. Take the long and short lines that are in your right hand and pass them through the formed loop. around, and back through a second time. (See illustration 2)
- Pull both pieces being held in each hand away from each other closing the knot. Moisten and pull tight. Once this not is secure you can tighten it further by pulling individual pieces. I would not recommend this knot for line over 30 lbs because it will be hard to tighten and the strength of the knot will only be there if tightened all the way.
Improved Clinch Knot (Leader to Fly)
The Improved Clinch knot is used for fastening the leader to the fly. If you are using over 12 Lb. test line, this is not a recommended knot.
- Thread your leader tippet through the eye of the hook. Wrap the end of the leader around the standing line 5 times for lines up to 8lb test and 4 times for lines from 8-12lb test. (You can also turn the hook 5 or 4 times)
- Take the tag end of the leader and pass it through the gap between the eye of the hook and the first wrap. Continue the tag end back up through the main loop just formed.
- Moisten the knot with your mouth, and while holding the hook in your left-hand pull on the standing leader allowing the knot to seat tightly against the hook. Clip the excess line.
Images and instructions provided by Fly Fishing Connection.
We have listed many of the common knots to use when setting up your fly rod and reel for fishing. Please note that there are many different combos and variations of knots that you can use. Along with the different knots there are items that you can purchase to attach your lines without even using knots. In any fishing catalog you will also find tools that will make tying some of these knots a little easier.
It is important not only to select the right knot for a particular job but to tie it properly. Poorly Tied knots will mean lost fish and aggravation. Here are a few basic steps to follow when tying all knots for fly fishing.
- Lubricate knots: Before you tighten a knot, lubricate it with saliva or by dipping it in the water. This will help the knot slide and seat properly. Lubrication also decreases excessive heat which dramatically weakens monofilament. Heat is generated by the friction created when knots are drawn up tight.
- Seat the knot: Tighten knots with a steady, continuous pull. Make sure the knot is tight and secure. After it is tied, pull on the line and leader to make sure it holds. It is better to test it now than when a fish is on.
- Trim neatly: Use nippers to trim the material as close as possible without nicking or damaging the knot.
Minnesota Fly Fishing