Three Essential Fishing Knots

Every angler has a few favorite knots, but these three are fishing must-haves.

An old fishing adage posits that all that stands between an angler and a fish is the line, but whether or not that line remains attached to a fish is sure to depend on a knot or two. Whether it connects the lure to the leader, the leader to the mainline or the mainline to a piece of terminal tackle, a substandard knot or the wrong knot for the job will result in lost gear, empty coolers and frustrating fish stories.

Which knot is best for which job? Opinions differ, but the three must-know knots I cover here are versatile, reliable and relatively easy to learn. Get ready, get set, tie!

Palomar Knot
An incredibly fast and easy knot, the Palomar knot retains good strength and, perhaps most importantly, does not slip when tied in braided line. Modern braid lines can slip with many traditional knots — using the old fisherman’s knot, for example, is hopeless — so the Palomar should always be used when attaching a piece of terminal tackle to braided line.

• STEP 1: Double the line and pass it through the eye or attachment point of the swivel, hook or lure. Be sure to pull through plenty of extra line, as it can be difficult to work with when doubled up.

• STEP 2: Tie a large overhand knot in the doubled line, leaving the hardware you’re attaching dangling in the middle.

• STEP 3: Take the tag-end of the doubled line, which now forms a loop, and pass that loop over the hardware. This can be cumbersome, especially in the case of large lures with treble hooks, or long, slender plastic tails. If you have trouble at this stage, try starting over with additional extra line, so you have a larger loop to pass the hardware through.

• STEP 4: Pull on the tag-end until the knot tightens, then pull on the main line and the hardware to cinch it tight.

Loop Knot
The loop knot is a popular knot utilized to attach a lure directly to a monofilament leader. A loop knot, as opposed to a knot that cinches down tight against the lure’s connection point, gives the lure more freedom of motion, and that, many people believe, gives the lure enhanced action. There’s more than one loop knot out there, but I like the one detailed here, sometimes called the Kreh loop — it was popularized by fishing legend Lefty Kreh — because it’s stronger than most of the others and the tag-end points aft, so it’s not prone to snagging weeds, like some other loop knots.

• STEP 1: Tie a simple overhand knot in the leader several inches above the tag-end of the line, but rather than cinching it tight leave it open and loose. Then pass the tag end of the line through the eye of the lure, turn it back and pass it through the open overhand knot.

• STEP 2: Bend the tag-end of the line over the main line five times (add an extra twist or two with light lines less than eight-pound test, and subtract a twist for leaders more than 30-pound test), then pass it back through the open overhand knot once more.

• STEP 3: Lubricate the knot by licking it or otherwise wetting the line, and pull on the main line and the lure to cinch it down. Finally, clip off any excess tag-end.

Double Uni Knot
Line-to-leader connections are some of the most difficult to make, and while the double uni (also called the uni-to-uni) isn’t exactly easy as pie to get the hang of, it can be learned with just an hour or two of practice. Relatively speaking, that’s getting off easy. The downside to this knot is that it is fairly thick, and if the tag-ends aren’t trimmed down to the quick, it may pass roughly through the guides of a fishing rod and cut casting distance a bit. That said, it’s incredibly strong and reliable, and countless anglers depend on the double uni to make their line-to-leader junction.

• STEP 1: Lay the two lines side by side with the ends overlapping by a foot or so, and then form a loop with each tag-end.

• STEP 2: Wrap the tag ends of each, one at a time, around both lines while going through the loops you just made. Use five to seven wraps (more for lighter line, fewer for heavier line). Terminate the wraps by pulling the tag-ends out through the loops, away from each other.

• STEP 3: Lubricate the line; then, tugging on the tag-ends, carefully tighten up each knot, one at a time.

• STEP 4: Grasp the lines on either side of the knots and pull until the two knots bump up against each other in the middle. Then cinch everything down tight and clip off
the tag-ends.

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