[Infographic] – Fly Fishing Knots

Every fly fishing angler’s got to have a good reliable fly fishing rod and fly selection but without strong knots, not even the best strategic tactics to fly fish will help you when all your knot can do is slip or even snapping your fishing line causing your catch to swim away leaving you feeling disappointed and lost.

Here we have created an infographic that focuses on the best Fly Fishing Knots you’ll ever need to know, along with images to help you to better understand the process in tying one.

Tying knots is an important skill to master before going for fly fishing because without them, how do you even hook your baits or lures? Fishing knots play a vital role because you rely on them to not untie themselves whenever a fish hooks itself. Know how to tie your knots properly and fly fishing is just a stone’s throw away.

Well, the problem is that there are so many different kinds of knots out there. For beginners or even intermediate anglers, it can be a little overwhelming learning up all of them.

In this article, I will be sharing some of the most effective knots to assemble different parts of your fly fishing equipment – backing, fly line, leader, tippet and fly.

Tip: You will also want to make sure you pick up a good fly rod.

#1 Backing

Backing simply means that it helps to back you up whenever you are about to reel in a huge fish that takes out more than around a hundred feet of your line. Why fly fishers use backing is because it allows your line to make a more and bigger turns on your reel which in turn helps you to wind your line more rapidly.

This is especially useful to catch fishes that make quick long runs. Even if you aren’t really planning to hook in large fishes, it is still wise for you to use backing or your spindle will be really hard to straighten since your fly line will be wrapped too tightly around it.

To begin, assemble your fly reel to the seat of the reel of your rod. After that, the stripper guide and your rod will help you in winding down the parts more smoothly and quickly. This is when you will use the Arbor knot to attach your backing to the reel spindle.

The Arbor knot is useful as it provides an easy connection to attach your line. One of the advantages in using this knot is that it is super practical as it works on any fishing reels –from the fly reel to the spinning reel– you name it! However, the downside is that it isn’t efficient when it comes to braided lines. It does not really secure the line to the reel spool unless your spool is braid-ready and it is a non-slipping type.

Steps:

  1. First, take your line and wrap it around your reel.
  2. After that, tie a simple overhand knot around the main line,
  3. Then tie a second one at the tag end about an inch from the first one to make it act as some kind of stopper.
  4. Tighten the knots down by pulling it the first overhand knot down to the spool so the second knot will sort of jam against the first one.
  5. Trim excess.


#2 Fly Line to Backing

To tie your fly line to the backing you just made, tie a surgeon’s knot or to be more secure, you can also tie a double surgeon’s knot by just looping two more times so that the knot will be firmer and more secured.

Steps:

  1. Begin by laying the leader and line on top of each other overlapping one another by a couple of inches.
  2. Take both lines to form a simple loop to tie an overhand knot with enough overlap.
  3. Tighten the tag end and the main line of the leader though the loop then repeat using the same ends.
  4. Steadily pull all the four ends tightly to see your surgeon’s knot. Trim excess.

Tip: Make sure that the loops are locked securely together like a (square knot); otherwise the connection will turn out large and lumpy.



This knot is reliable because it provides enough strength to prevent your fishing line from snapping. It is also known as the double surgeon knot due to tying it as a double overhand knot. One of its useful functions is that it is super easy to tie for beginners especially. Besides that, you can tie it with similar and different diameter lines together. However, it is only used with small sizes of tippet since the knot is bulky.

#3 Fly Line to Leader

A lot of fly lines have a loop on the tip and same goes for knotless tapered leaders which provide an easy attachment between the two. If your line has no loops, the most common way to attach them is by using the nail knot. The Nail Knot makes a compact knot that will enable you to readily pass the knot through the guides.

Before you begin, you need something small like a tube with a small diameter like a nail knot tool or just find something that looks the same with a diameter around twice the size of your fly line. This helps to ease the knot tying process.

Steps:

  1. Hold your line and tube together. Then, take your leader and wrap around them once.
  2. Continue wrapping around 5 times and pass it through the tube.
  3. Remove the tube and pull the ends of the leader tightly.
  4. Test it so it does not slip and trim excess.


Another knot which I find to give a huge advantage is the Sheet Bend Knot also known as the Weaver’s Knot. This knot is highly recommended as it can tie two lines of different diameters together. It works perfectly with lines of the same diameter as well. Might as well kill two birds with one stone, right?

Steps:

  1. Make a loop using the thicker line.
  2. Pass the thinner line through the loop and coil around the end and standing line of the thicker one together in that order.
  3. Insert the end of the thinner line under itself to complete.


#4 Line to Line

We are nearing the end in assembling our fly fishing rod. The final line or commonly known as tippet is located between the leader and the fly. The two common materials used to make the monofilament lines are fluorocarbon and nylon. Fluorocarbon is the more expensive out of the two because it is abrasion resistant and it is less visible in the water because its refraction index is the same as the water. This is an advantage in cases where you are fishing in clear waters and fishes with sharp eyesight.

The most used knot to tie the two pieces of lines together is the Surgeon’s knot (tutorial above) because most anglers already know how to. However, recently I have discovered a super-fast and easy knot which is called the Speed Blood Knot highly recommended by the FlyFisherMan at which is another type of Blood knot only better.

Steps:

  1. Hold the two line you want to connect and create a simple overhand knot.
  2. Cross them over and create a loop and twist around 5 times.
  3. Once done, take your overhand knot through the loop and pull the two ends simultaneously so cinch it together.

Simple and easy. This knot is especially handy in cold weather where your hands will be frigid because of the low temperature.


#5 Tippet to Fly

It is the most important process in the entire thing. The best knot to attach the tippet to your fly is the Fisherman’s knot. Why not the Improved Clinch knot? It is because this knot has been used by the majority for many years and it is still considered as one of the strongest knot until now to attach your tipper and fly with. It is also one of the first knots many fly fishers learn first.

Steps:

  1. Thread the tag end through the eye hook and leave a long line.
  2. Coil the tag end around the main line for around 5 times.
  3. Take the tag end back to the first loop you made and pass it through.
  4. Pull the mainline to cinch your knot.
  5. Trim excess.

Conclusion

One more important thing to do is to always lubricate your lines with water or saliva to ensure a smooth sliding whenever you are tightening your knot to prevent abrasions.

While I believe these knots will help you get started, I know they not the only option. I would love to hear from you, what are your preferred fly fishing knots and where you used them?