When you are fly fishing, tying the right knots can make a world of difference in your success or failure. It’s important to not only select the right knot for the situation but also to tie it properly. Poorly tied knots will mean lost fish and frustration for you, so knowing about the right knots and how to tie them can be a huge part of the fly fishing experience.
Before you tighten a knot, moisten it with saliva or with water you are fishing on. This will help the knot slide and seat properly. Lubrication also decreases excessive heat which can weaken the monofilament. Heat is generated by friction created when the knots are drawn up tight. Moistening the knot will reduce this heat and allow you to have good, strong knots.
Tighten knots with a steady, continuous pull. This is called seating the knot. Make sure the knot is tight and secure. To check this, pull on the line and leader to be sure it holds. It’s better to test its strength before you cast rather than to have it break once you get a hook.
There are plenty of books available that give step-by-step instructions on how to properly tie specific knots. You can also find many tutorials online that can show you how to tie specific knots.
You will need to know how to secure your line to the reel. This is called “Backing to the fly reel” and there is a specific knot as to how to achieve that. When you are backing to the fly line, you should use either an Albright Knot or a Nail Knot. The Nail Knot is also good for using when tying the fly line to the leader.
When securing the leader to the tippet, good knot choices include the Surgeon’s Knot or the Barrel Knot. Securing the tippet to the fly can be achieved easily with a Clinch Knot or a Duncan’s Loop.
It has been said that the weakest part of a fly fisherman’s equipment is his knots. A fighting fish will test every link in between the angler and itself. If one of these link is lacking, the line will break and the fish will be lost. Unless you’re really eager to share a “the one that got away” story, learning to tie knots can be the most important part of your fly fishing experience.
Some fly fishing knots are simple to do – others are a little more complicated. Practice tying knots before you get on the water. Become proficient at it and be sure you can do it in low light in case you have a broken line. There is no one knot best for any specific situation – the choice is personal. But when you are fly fishing, you need to depend on your knots and it’s worth taking the time to learn properly.