The Two Greatest Flyfishing Knots, and How to Tie Them
Behold, the winners of our ultimate connection test
Besides not working equally well with all types of line, knots also don’t perform alike in different diameters of the same line type. For example, a 6-turn clinch knot that works great for 10-pound mono won’t do for 50-pound mono because six turns with the thicker and stiffer line are almost impossible to tighten correctly.
This is especially important in flyfishing, where trout anglers in particular often deal with extremely fine tippet materials and very small flies. So I tested some line splices and terminal knots made with fragile 5X and 6X nylon tippet material, and at least one of the results is going to change the way I fish. For more, read the rest of the F&S ultimate knot test.
WINNER: 16-20 Knot (3-turn)
Strength: 97% | Tippet to a Fly
I tested three knots, all commonly recommended for tying on small flies, for tying 6X tippet to a tiny size 18 dry-fly hook. Interestingly, the results were close to a three-way tie. A 6-turn improved clinch knot had the same strength as the 16-20 (sometimes called a Pitzen knot). An Orvis knot (sometimes called a Becker) came in at 94%. I chose the 16-20 knot because I think it’s by far the easiest to tie. If you already like one of the others better, by all means stick with it.
WINNER: Seaguar Knot
Strength: 97% | Tippet to a Leader
Fly anglers often add a strand of 6X tippet to the end of a 5X leader while fishing small flies. Tippet strands sometimes break off when you strike a fish too hard, and tippets need replacing as they get shortened by multiple fly changes.
The 4-turn surgeon’s knot, which is most commonly suggested for tippet connections, broke at only 84% of the unknotted 6X line strength. The old-time Blood knot did 81%.
So this year I’m switching to the Seaguar—which is exceptionally strong for a splicing knot in this case—instead of the surgeon’s knot I’ve relied on for many years. The Seaguar knot is also substantially easier and faster to tie. Just make sure that all the strands are aligned and even as you begin tightening, at which point the knot should assume a twisted figure-8 shape.