Deeter: How Many Knots Do You Need?

If you haven't seen John Merwins' feature on knots in the current issue of (Field & Stream The Ultimate Line Experiment, May 2010), you should check it out. It's the best read on what knots to use in certain situations, and the advantages of fluoro v. mono and (vice versa) I've ever seen.

But I must admit I make my whole bread & butter living in fly fishing (guiding and writing about it) with three knots. A nail knot, to tie a line to a leader. A surgeon's knot (4 turn), for tippet to tippet, or leader to tippet. And an improved clinch knot to tie on flies. That's about it. There are two other knots I sometimes tie... a perfection loop, for making loop-to-loop connections, and once in a while, a Costa Rica knot for tying a loop connection to large streamers. I'll also use an arbor knot to start spooling up a reel with backing.

I know how to tie blood knots and Bimini Twists (I'm proud of the latter), but never use them. In fact, I think it's better to be able to tie three knots well, than being able to tie 30 knots so-so.

Do you buy that logic, or are you a knot-ologist? According to Mr. Merwin, I might be smart to replace my standard knots with some alternatives. But as a creature of habit, I'm inclined to stick with speed and comfort, even if that means sacrificing some knot strength.

Deeter