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Romano: The Art of the Nail Knot

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July 27, 2010

Romano: The Art of the Nail Knot

By Tim Romano

It's rare that I tie a nail knot these days as most fly lines come with pre-welded loops, as do most leaders. Knowing how to tie a nail knot though can save a day on the water when damage might have been done to the end of your line or when absolute stealth is needed presenting small lines and leaders to spooky fish.

If you've forgotten or want to learn a couple of neat tricks check out Tim Flagler's how to video over on Midcurrent.com or just click on the photo. - TR

Comments (20)

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from buckhunter wrote 3 years 38 weeks ago

Nothing beats a nail knot. Nothing.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 3 years 38 weeks ago

I couldn't load up the midcurrent video, but for my two bits, the nail knot tool is the best approach. I can tie it well on the tool, then slip in the end of the line, and pull the knot onto the flyline. There is a nail-less nail knot that you can tie not having to use the tool, BUT....the mono you use at the butt of a leader is bigger diameter, stiff and springy, and the wraps want to go over themselves when not using the tool. Another thought is the nail knot has less bulk than the loop to loop connection, and transfers energy better on the cast, and has less splash down then the loop to loop connections. Loop to loops do make it easier to put on another leader when you want to go from a big fly using a bigger tippet, and now a small fly on a fine tippet. I prefer the nail knot. If you put a drop of finger nail polish over the knot you can smooth out the rough end, and your leader will go back through the guides when landing a fish much easier. This is necessary often when your rod is only the length of your leader, or shorter, and the loop to loops do not back through the guides very good at all in this regard. Practice, practice, practice. When you pull the knot onto the end of the flyline, and do it QUICK!..but not with too much force, you can then slip down the nail knot to the end of the fly line without having to cut off but a smiggin of line at the end...pull it on to tight, and the knot won't slip, and you'll have to cut off to much of your flyline. The knot can only be used on a flyline because the harder you pull, the more it bites on the flyline PVC coating.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 3 years 38 weeks ago

Sayfu,

That was everything I was thinking but was too lazy to type. Good job.

riaz,

Go away.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Wags wrote 3 years 38 weeks ago

Where was this advice about a week and a half ago??? I was standing in the Madison in Yellowstone, caddis all over the place, trout keyed in on them. I go to check my fly and suddenly, everything is gone. My tippet, my braided leader, everything. Took me a minute just to comprehend what had happened. My braided loop on the fly line (mine is pre-welded loops) slipped off somehow and it was all gone.

So now what? Fortunately, I had picked up some tapered leaders while in a fly shop in case I needed them to rig up my sons' lines. I couldn't remember how to tie a nail knot under that pressure, so I went with a good second: the albright. It worked pretty well, just slightly more catchy through the guides. Alls well that ends well, several nice fish were landed that night. In fact, I fished that knot and butt section the rest of the trip. BTW.....PHENOMENAL trip. Got a slam for the trip: Brookie, Brown, Rainbow, Cuttbow, and Cutthroat. Did all but the Cutty in one day, on one river.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 3 years 38 weeks ago

Congrats on your slam Wags. You guys that live out West make me so jealous.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Joe Demalderis wrote 3 years 38 weeks ago

Good video. If anyone can't tie a nail knot after watching that then they can't tie their shoes either ;)

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from fflutterffly wrote 3 years 38 weeks ago

It is essential to understand and know how to tie knots. Once learned several knots come into play during our daily lives. I've lost count how many times I've had to put two pieces of rope together using knots I learned for fly fishing. I think all people who come into this activity should learn their knots.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ramcatt wrote 3 years 38 weeks ago

I'm not a big fan of knot tools... i'll still use a nail (or whatever i have at hand)

here is the link i keep in my bookmarks
http://www.animatedknots.com/nailknot/index.php

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 3 years 38 weeks ago

Ramcatt, I'm not a fan of tools either, BUT..that nailknot tool hangs at home in my fly tying room, and I tie a good nail knot, coat the knot so it goes through the guides a little better, and leave it home. I can't remember when I had to tie another nail knot on the water.
The nice thing about the tool is the channel that you can easily run the tag end of your knot underneath the wraps..it is then done. No trying to slip the tag end between the wraps, and the flyline, and then having a wrap jump over another wrap because it loosened up some. I've got the emergency tool that is the swing out piece on the clippers that is the same idea, but smaller, and somewhat harder to use, but works as well,

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Hoski wrote 3 years 38 weeks ago

I like using the tool but will keep a paperclip in the vest for backup. Ramcatt, thanks for the link.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from VAHunter540 wrote 3 years 38 weeks ago

The first time I used(and was introduced to) this knot a friend tied it for me, I was very skeptical and almost thought he was joking. The knot just didnt seem like it could possibly hold. That day I hooked a 9lb Brown that made many nice long runs, the knot held, and I was sold. When I tie it correctly Ive never had this knot slip or otherwise break

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 3 years 38 weeks ago

Wish my computer would have downloaded that video earlier! That was a good one. I had it in mind that if you don't use the tool you have to take the tag end, and push it through....between the wraps, and the nail, or clip, and the flyline...His way seemed backwards to my thinking, but sure came out nice. And there is the right way to draw down loop to loop connections. If you do it right the loop draws down on the other loop in a figure 8 appearance gripping the sides of the loops...the loop connecting should be place OVER the first loop(the one connected to the flyline, and run up the flyline, and then the tippet end goes through the loop, and is drawn down straight. This produces the side to side grip. Running it inside the loop, and placing the tippet through the loop draws the loops together with the working loop you used gripping the very bottom of the other loop, and can bite through it, or wear it thin...tough explaining, but makes sense?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ramcatt wrote 3 years 38 weeks ago

i probably tie more nail knots than most and usually with heavier line...
so i've become comfortable doing them without a tool

i do the braided mono with 2 nail knots of 12# for building tips (per Ed Ward) and I will do 30# nail knotted with a perfection loop off of the front for most lines.

any concern about strength (if there was any) and smoothness is gone with some aqualseal

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 3 years 38 weeks ago

Aquaseal is some good stuff, much better than shoe-go..a better grade of silicone.

I just like a not so busy connection. I've used them all, and change my thinking from time to time, but I do see the need to run the end of the flyline back into the guides fairly often to land a fish...the less busy, and smaller, the easier it slides back through.
But I also fish out of a boat most of the time, and the back of my boat is like a golf bag, rods made up for any occasion...streamer rod with a streamer on it, a small fly rod with a light tippet, a big, dryfly rod, ..so I seldom have to change leaders. What I find with loop to loop, is when you cast the loops slip back and forth, rather than stay tight. Seems to me this doesn't transfer the energy from the flyline to the leader very well. But if you are laying it out, that is all that counts...proof is in the results.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from hi_tail wrote 3 years 38 weeks ago

Nail knot & perfection loop. Nuff said-

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 3 years 38 weeks ago

Hi-tail..There has to be something else said! If you tie a perfection loop, and then pull on the tag end after tying it, the loop comes undone. Try it. Now as sophisticated as fish are getting, as educated as they are becoming, what about a fish lipping that tag end, and pulling on it?! I can see some of those smart trout I can't catch doing just that!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Wags wrote 3 years 38 weeks ago

Hey Buckhunter,
Man I WISH I lived out there. I am a bonafide Indiana farmboy living in Cincinnati, OH. We were out there on the family vacation. That is why the near panic when I lost everything....I don't get this opportunity often!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 3 years 37 weeks ago

Anyone familiar with the needle knot?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 3 years 37 weeks ago

Wags,
Cincy eh? We've probably crossed paths on the Mad. I've been in Hyde Park a bunch recently.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Wags wrote 3 years 37 weeks ago

Buckhunter,

I have to admit I've never fished the Mad. Wanted to, but haven't done it. I'm spending a lot more time around Dayton now so I should get myself familiar. What ya doin in Hyde Park, and do you hit the fly shop there on the square? It's the only one left in Cincy now, unless you count the Bass Pro Shop.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from Ramcatt wrote 3 years 38 weeks ago

I'm not a big fan of knot tools... i'll still use a nail (or whatever i have at hand)

here is the link i keep in my bookmarks
http://www.animatedknots.com/nailknot/index.php

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 3 years 38 weeks ago

Ramcatt, I'm not a fan of tools either, BUT..that nailknot tool hangs at home in my fly tying room, and I tie a good nail knot, coat the knot so it goes through the guides a little better, and leave it home. I can't remember when I had to tie another nail knot on the water.
The nice thing about the tool is the channel that you can easily run the tag end of your knot underneath the wraps..it is then done. No trying to slip the tag end between the wraps, and the flyline, and then having a wrap jump over another wrap because it loosened up some. I've got the emergency tool that is the swing out piece on the clippers that is the same idea, but smaller, and somewhat harder to use, but works as well,

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from hi_tail wrote 3 years 38 weeks ago

Nail knot & perfection loop. Nuff said-

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 3 years 38 weeks ago

Nothing beats a nail knot. Nothing.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 3 years 38 weeks ago

I couldn't load up the midcurrent video, but for my two bits, the nail knot tool is the best approach. I can tie it well on the tool, then slip in the end of the line, and pull the knot onto the flyline. There is a nail-less nail knot that you can tie not having to use the tool, BUT....the mono you use at the butt of a leader is bigger diameter, stiff and springy, and the wraps want to go over themselves when not using the tool. Another thought is the nail knot has less bulk than the loop to loop connection, and transfers energy better on the cast, and has less splash down then the loop to loop connections. Loop to loops do make it easier to put on another leader when you want to go from a big fly using a bigger tippet, and now a small fly on a fine tippet. I prefer the nail knot. If you put a drop of finger nail polish over the knot you can smooth out the rough end, and your leader will go back through the guides when landing a fish much easier. This is necessary often when your rod is only the length of your leader, or shorter, and the loop to loops do not back through the guides very good at all in this regard. Practice, practice, practice. When you pull the knot onto the end of the flyline, and do it QUICK!..but not with too much force, you can then slip down the nail knot to the end of the fly line without having to cut off but a smiggin of line at the end...pull it on to tight, and the knot won't slip, and you'll have to cut off to much of your flyline. The knot can only be used on a flyline because the harder you pull, the more it bites on the flyline PVC coating.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 3 years 38 weeks ago

Sayfu,

That was everything I was thinking but was too lazy to type. Good job.

riaz,

Go away.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Wags wrote 3 years 38 weeks ago

Where was this advice about a week and a half ago??? I was standing in the Madison in Yellowstone, caddis all over the place, trout keyed in on them. I go to check my fly and suddenly, everything is gone. My tippet, my braided leader, everything. Took me a minute just to comprehend what had happened. My braided loop on the fly line (mine is pre-welded loops) slipped off somehow and it was all gone.

So now what? Fortunately, I had picked up some tapered leaders while in a fly shop in case I needed them to rig up my sons' lines. I couldn't remember how to tie a nail knot under that pressure, so I went with a good second: the albright. It worked pretty well, just slightly more catchy through the guides. Alls well that ends well, several nice fish were landed that night. In fact, I fished that knot and butt section the rest of the trip. BTW.....PHENOMENAL trip. Got a slam for the trip: Brookie, Brown, Rainbow, Cuttbow, and Cutthroat. Did all but the Cutty in one day, on one river.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 3 years 38 weeks ago

Congrats on your slam Wags. You guys that live out West make me so jealous.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Joe Demalderis wrote 3 years 38 weeks ago

Good video. If anyone can't tie a nail knot after watching that then they can't tie their shoes either ;)

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from fflutterffly wrote 3 years 38 weeks ago

It is essential to understand and know how to tie knots. Once learned several knots come into play during our daily lives. I've lost count how many times I've had to put two pieces of rope together using knots I learned for fly fishing. I think all people who come into this activity should learn their knots.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from VAHunter540 wrote 3 years 38 weeks ago

The first time I used(and was introduced to) this knot a friend tied it for me, I was very skeptical and almost thought he was joking. The knot just didnt seem like it could possibly hold. That day I hooked a 9lb Brown that made many nice long runs, the knot held, and I was sold. When I tie it correctly Ive never had this knot slip or otherwise break

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 3 years 38 weeks ago

Wish my computer would have downloaded that video earlier! That was a good one. I had it in mind that if you don't use the tool you have to take the tag end, and push it through....between the wraps, and the nail, or clip, and the flyline...His way seemed backwards to my thinking, but sure came out nice. And there is the right way to draw down loop to loop connections. If you do it right the loop draws down on the other loop in a figure 8 appearance gripping the sides of the loops...the loop connecting should be place OVER the first loop(the one connected to the flyline, and run up the flyline, and then the tippet end goes through the loop, and is drawn down straight. This produces the side to side grip. Running it inside the loop, and placing the tippet through the loop draws the loops together with the working loop you used gripping the very bottom of the other loop, and can bite through it, or wear it thin...tough explaining, but makes sense?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ramcatt wrote 3 years 38 weeks ago

i probably tie more nail knots than most and usually with heavier line...
so i've become comfortable doing them without a tool

i do the braided mono with 2 nail knots of 12# for building tips (per Ed Ward) and I will do 30# nail knotted with a perfection loop off of the front for most lines.

any concern about strength (if there was any) and smoothness is gone with some aqualseal

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 3 years 38 weeks ago

Aquaseal is some good stuff, much better than shoe-go..a better grade of silicone.

I just like a not so busy connection. I've used them all, and change my thinking from time to time, but I do see the need to run the end of the flyline back into the guides fairly often to land a fish...the less busy, and smaller, the easier it slides back through.
But I also fish out of a boat most of the time, and the back of my boat is like a golf bag, rods made up for any occasion...streamer rod with a streamer on it, a small fly rod with a light tippet, a big, dryfly rod, ..so I seldom have to change leaders. What I find with loop to loop, is when you cast the loops slip back and forth, rather than stay tight. Seems to me this doesn't transfer the energy from the flyline to the leader very well. But if you are laying it out, that is all that counts...proof is in the results.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 3 years 38 weeks ago

Hi-tail..There has to be something else said! If you tie a perfection loop, and then pull on the tag end after tying it, the loop comes undone. Try it. Now as sophisticated as fish are getting, as educated as they are becoming, what about a fish lipping that tag end, and pulling on it?! I can see some of those smart trout I can't catch doing just that!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Wags wrote 3 years 38 weeks ago

Hey Buckhunter,
Man I WISH I lived out there. I am a bonafide Indiana farmboy living in Cincinnati, OH. We were out there on the family vacation. That is why the near panic when I lost everything....I don't get this opportunity often!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 3 years 37 weeks ago

Wags,
Cincy eh? We've probably crossed paths on the Mad. I've been in Hyde Park a bunch recently.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Hoski wrote 3 years 38 weeks ago

I like using the tool but will keep a paperclip in the vest for backup. Ramcatt, thanks for the link.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 3 years 37 weeks ago

Anyone familiar with the needle knot?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Wags wrote 3 years 37 weeks ago

Buckhunter,

I have to admit I've never fished the Mad. Wanted to, but haven't done it. I'm spending a lot more time around Dayton now so I should get myself familiar. What ya doin in Hyde Park, and do you hit the fly shop there on the square? It's the only one left in Cincy now, unless you count the Bass Pro Shop.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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