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Fly Fishing Knots – Tippet to Fly Connections

Published: 18th January 2020 | Author: Sean Platt

Much like everything else in fly-fishing, it seems (especially when starting out) that there are a million fly fishing knots one must learn in order to stand any chance of catching a fish. While the list can certainly be daunting even to experienced anglers, for most applications the following three knots will more than get the job done. 

The Classic Fly Fishing Knot: Clinch Knot   

This is without a doubt the standby knot for any trout angler and with good reason. The clinch and improved clinch are easy to tie, strong and can, with a little practice become almost second nature. 80% of the time these are my go-to fly fishing knots on the water, and as with all of the knots in fishing, there are a few steps that when overlooked can lead to disaster.  

The main issue with all knots is failure to make sure the knot is seated properly. As a disclaimer and as you well know, knots fail, even the best knots can fail, that said by ensuring a knot is properly seated we can greatly increase our chances for success. I have seen a lot of poorly tied clinch knots over the years, and almost all of the time it comes down to not being properly seated. In figure 1 below you can see a clean knot that is properly seated, figure 2 is an example of a knot that can, when tested lead to a lost fish and a frustrated angler, not to mention a fish with a new lip piercing.

Tying a Clinch Knot
Figure 1
Tying a Clinch Knot
Figure 2

Another small, but very helpful step in tying a fly on, and this applies to all knots tied with tippet material, especially clinch knots, is to lubricate the knot before tightening, simply placing the knot in your mouth prior to synching is the easiest way to do this. A little bit of saliva on the mono/fluro will ensure that the force and friction of tightening the knot won’t overheat and weaken the materials.  

The Mover: Non-slip Mono Loop Knot 

Don’t be put off by this knots exceptionally long name, it’s actually fairly simple and a must-have in any anglers quiver. The main application for this knot is to give your fly movement, especially when using larger tippet materials that could potentially restrict a flies’ movement in the water.  

For example, if you are fishing streamers for trout and using 1-2x by using a loop knot your fly will have exponentially more movement in the water than if you were to use a clinch knot. More simply put, movement = realistic = more fish.   

I’ve done a few tests where I fish a run with trout steamers on a clinch then fish the same run with a streamer on a NSML and the difference is staggering. The ability of your fly to swim, dive and move side to side is key to triggering the reactionary eats that we are searching for when streamer fishing.  

Another application for this knot that I have used more recently is for large hoppers, especially when I want to give them a skittering/swimming action. Using this knot for larger dries is something that I transferred over from fishing poppers for bass. The extra movement and freedom of this knot allows for a more realistic presentation and also aids in keeping the fly oriented correctly.  

A few things to keep in mind with this knot is the length of the loop, it should be relative to the size of the fly, more often I would aim for smaller loops, all the knot needs to do is allow the fly freedom. Also, and I’ll say this over and over, make sure the knot is properly seated, especially with this particular knot.

Tying a Non Slip Loop Knot

The Minimalist: Davy Knot 

I first learned about this knot when watching Wet Fly Ways with Davy Wotton. I will admit that I was pretty skeptical at first, at the time I assumed that the slim profile and lack of wraps would never hold. I was, as the inclusion of this knot in my top three would suggest, completely wrong.  

Not only is this fly fishing knot super strong it also has a huge advantage in that, with a little practice it uses very little material aka minimal waste. Though originally intended for use with wet flies, this knot is a lifesaver on euro nymphing rigs and or any rig involving a dropper tag. The ability to use less tag material allows anglers more time fishing and less time rigging and that’s something I think we would all prefer.  

The most helpful tip I have found with the Davy Knot is to ensure the tag end comes off at 90 degree angle from the eye of the hook.

Tying the Davy Knot

As a guide and avid fisherman, I’ve tried a plethora of fly fishing knots and the aforementioned are the three that I rely on time and time again. As with all fishing, my advice is to mess around and formulate your own preferences. And remember the next time you’re on the water be sure to check your knots.  

See more of Sean Platt’s blog posts here.

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