By Rick Lawrence
There are probably hundreds of different fishing knots out there for joining lines and tying on a hook or snap, but to be a successful angler you really only need to learn about 5 good knots and the proper way to tie them to have supremacy over your aquatic foe on the water. Every fisherman has had a less than perfect knot fail and had their heart broken when the line snaps and a fish of a lifetime is gone. However if you practice these techniques you will hopefully be able to tie a better and stronger knot. I consider myself somewhat of a knot expert as I have spent many, many hours tying and testing knots to figure out which ones work the best and as some of you may already know I invented a knot that won the TV show “Knot Wars” a few years ago.
First; pick the right knot for the job.
You wouldn’t use a Bimini Twist to tie on a leader for Crappie fishing or a Clinch knot for Marlin fishing, so matching the correct knot to the type of fishing method you’re using is one of the most important aspects to achieving a proper knot tying technique.
Second; learn the knot you want to use and practice it till you can just about tie it with your eyes closed.
This helps you tie it faster and more consistently.
Third; Keep it wet.
It’s fairly straight forward, but things that are lubricated slide easier with less friction than things that are dry.
Forth; Slow down.
To avoid friction and wraps crossing, work the wraps down the line slowly until they are lined up neatly next to each other. Then apply pressure and tighten the knot slowly by pulling on the tag end and or mainline whichever is needed watching your wraps so they don’t get crossed up. Then pull until the knot starts to snug up.
Most good anglers can tie a good knot in a matter of seconds, but you should always slow down on the tightening or cinching step to make sure your knot is neat and doesn’t have and crossed lines so you're not compromising the line with too much friction.
Fifth; Cinch it up tight.
Once you have the knot snugged up, grab your lure or hook in one hand the and the mainline in the other hand and give it a hard pull to ensure its seated properly and ready for fishing.
I always test my knots and pull about 80% of the line rating to make sure I won’t get any unexpected failures.
In choosing a great line to lure knot, I look for just 2 things. It has to be easy to tie and super strong.
There is a short list that I would say are up for the task like the Trilene knot, the popular Palomar knot and maybe the 2 wrap San Diego Jam knot. I would not use the Clinch Knot even for perch fishing with 30 lb test. I also don’t use the Reverse clinch, Grinner knot or the Eugene Bend. My personal favorite is my namesake knot the “Fish-N-Fool“ knot. It won the “Knot wars” segment of the “North American Fisherman” TV show that was on about 10 years ago. The great thing about the Fish-N-Fool knot is not only is it super easy to tie once you learn the proper way to tie it, but it is still the strongest line to lure knot they ever tested with either braid or mono. I think the show was on for about 3 to 4 years and each year they would have a new group of knots to test. What makes a good knot is one that protects the wraps and has at least 2 lines through the hook eye to spread the load and is easy to tie.
All of the stronger knots all have double wrap around the hook like the Trilene, Palomar, Double San Diego Jam, Berkley Braid and the Fish-N-Fool knot. I didn’t include the Berkley Braid in the list of knots to tie simply because it’s too complicated. For me the Fish-N-Fool knot is about the easiest to tie and super strong, so it is my go to knot to tie on a hook about 90% of the time. I do use a Palomar sometimes for tying a drop shot hook on, as it is just easier. I also use a standard Uni for tying very large diameter mono or fluorocarbon lines when tying on snaps, like for pike leaders and such.
For joining lines together I only use 2 knots, the Crazy Alberto knot for joining any two lines that are the same or near the same diameter and to join braid to a heavy leader the FG knot is the only choice. I use to tie all my Pike/Musky leaders up. It is a little harder to tie then most knots and I usually don’t tie it out on the water. I tie up my lines the night before I go so I can take my time and do it right. Never use the FG knot to tie a smaller diameter leader to braid. The Alberto knot is much better suited for this. In tying a good line to lure knot that has 2 lines through the hook eye, the most important thing is to make sure the lines don’t cross. Here is a fish landed by my wannabee kid on a Fish-N-Fool knot a few weeks ago and it was one “ Fish of a lifetime” that didn’t get away. At least not till it was photoed and weighed.
The diagram below shows the proper way to hold and tie the Fish-N-Fool knot.
I will give a brief rundown on it here as well. Hold the hook with your right hand and hook it on your pinky finger with the hook shank in the palm of your hand, run the line through the hook eye twice. Pull out about 8” of tag end then pinch the loops and pull them down tight to the hook eye. Run the tag end up parallel with the main line and fold into a loop below the main line about the size of a silver dollar and put the tag end back up with the main line. Use your two middle fingers to hold the loop. Then just use your index fingers and thumbs to wrap the tag end through the loop starting near the hook and wrap 5 to 8 times. Keep the loops on the hook pulled tight so they don’t cross and pull on the tag end only till the knot forms up on the main line, but do not tighten all the way. Now pull on the main line while pinching the loops on the hook and slide the knot down tight to the hook eye. Pull the tag end hard to seat the knot and trim the tag. When tied this way this is the strongest line to lure knot for braid or mono that has ever been tested. Here are the stats for most all the popular lures with the three line types.
I don’t have the stats for the leader to braid knots handy, but I will say that the Albright, Crazy Alberto, and FG are all good knots, with the FG being the strongest followed closely by the Alberto knot. The line to line knots I would not use are the Blood knot, Surgeons Knot, and the Uni to Uni knot.
I hope this article will get you thinking about the knot your currently tying and if it as good as it should be. If it’s not try something new and maybe next time you will land that fish of a lifetime.
There are a lot of poor videos trying to teach how to tie the Fish-N-Fool knot and so far none have shown it correctly. If you would like to see my video on just how fast and easy this amazing knot is to tie check out my U-tube channel. I also have a great video on how I tie the FG knot the fastest and easiest way as well Fish-N-Fool knot
You can skip the into and go to the 2:40 mark to see how this is tied.