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MartinlfJanuary 27th, 2007, 9:41 am
Moderator
Palmyra PA

Posts: 2907
In another thread David mentions using loop knots to attach the fly to the tippet, and his comment leads me to expose (after the pronunciation of Latin) another of my minor obsessions. Several years back I decided to master a few more knots, so I carried a big blunt hook and some old tippet everywhere I thought I'd have a spare moment. (One day found me sitting in the waiting room at a tire place with a guy who was tying wet flies on a portable vise. We swapped a yarn or two and some ideas on knots and flies.) Anyway, after Lefty Kreh had told me that he uses his non-slip mono loop almost exclusively for much of his fishing, I had decided to learn it and start using it for nymphing. Another couple of authors also advocated the advantages of having the fly able to swing free, and that strengthened my resolve, though at least one of them mentioned using the surgeon's loop. Lefty gives both knots high marks for strength, but so far I find I can more easily tie a smaller non-fouling loop with his non-slip loop knot. So here's a first question. Do you use loop knots to tie on your flies, and do you prefer one over the other?

Other knots I learned at that time were the Harvey knot and the Crawford knot, both of which Lefty says are strong. But he didn't give me any percentage of original line strength on the Crawford (I wish I had asked him). I rarely use the Harvey now, and may have forgotten how to tie it, partly because many of my flies don't have down turned eyes. I still use the Crawford from time to time, but wish I knew the real strength compared to the Clinch, which I've come back to when line and hook wire are close enough in diameter, after reading Gary Borger's opinions and some knot studies by other folks. (OK, OK, I've already admitted I'm a little obsessive about this--but it is the ultimate connection to the fish.) Second question (and this one shows I make up essay tests for a living): what is your favorite non-loop knot and why? Please include in your answer any factual information you may have about knot strength, especially about the Crawford knot if you have any experience with it. Documentation from authoritative sources is welcome.

Finally, a word about the Clinch, Improved Clinch debate. It does appear, according to my sources, that the Improved Clinch is best when tippet and hook wire diameter is significantly different (don't ask me to define significantly, please--though I guess it could be looked up). Gary Borger was using the Clinch almost exclusively (except in the above disparate diameter example) for years, despite Lefty's attempts to convert him to the Improved. As far as I know Borger still prefers the Clinch. If my memory serves me well about a recent article, believe Lefty also has come back to the Clinch now in most applications, when hook and wire match up and he's not using a non-slip. That's been good enough for me.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
Shawnny3January 27th, 2007, 9:17 pm
Moderator
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
My favorite is the Perfection Knot, sometimes referred to as the Turle Knot. The greatest advantages are that the knot is invisible behind the eye on turned-down hooks, an especially wonderful feature when fishing very small flies, and that the tippet comes straight out of the eye, keeping the fly in line with the leader and enabling better fly orientation on or in the water. I've heard from very experienced fishermen that keeping the fly in line with the leader also allows them to get better hook-sets, but these observations are second-hand anecdotal at best. I just don't catch enough fish to be able to tell the difference.

This knot takes a bit of getting used to, but it can be tied very quickly once you've gotten the hang of it (and it doesn't tend to coil light tippet nearly as much as the infernal clinch knots do).

The biggest problem with this knot is that it does not tie well on flies with eyes much bigger than the tippet you're using (for those situations I usually go with the Trilene Knot). For small flies with turned-down eyes, though, I don't know that there's a better knot than the Perfection Knot.

I've also developed a variation of an existing knot for attaching flies mid-leader. Honestly, I don't use it much anymore, but my brother loves it. Maybe I'll post instructions for that later if there's any interest, but it's kind of hard to describe knots without pictures...

-Shawn
Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
www.davisflydesigns.com
TroutnutJanuary 27th, 2007, 9:45 pm
Administrator
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2541
I haven't really explored varying my knots yet. I think I learned the improved/double clinch knot around age 4 and I haven't used much else thereafter, at least not to connect the fly to the line.

Anyway, after Lefty Kreh had told me that he uses his non-slip mono loop almost exclusively for much of his fishing, I had decided to learn it and start using it for nymphing. Another couple of authors also advocated the advantages of having the fly able to swing free, and that strengthened my resolve, though at least one of them mentioned using the surgeon's loop. Lefty gives both knots high marks for strength, but so far I find I can more easily tie a smaller non-fouling loop with his non-slip loop knot.


I have thought about using a loop to help nymphs swing more freely. Hopefully I'll remember to try that this year.

My favorite is the Perfection Knot, sometimes referred to as the Turle Knot. The greatest advantages are that the knot is invisible behind the eye on turned-down hooks, an especially wonderful feature +when fishing very small flies, and that the tippet comes straight out of the eye, keeping the fly in line with the leader and enabling better fly orientation on or in the water.


That's a good point I never thought of before, that the orientation of the knot on the hook eye could seriously affect the fly's position. Another thing to try this year...

Keep the great ideas coming!
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
Shawnny3January 28th, 2007, 7:01 am
Moderator
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
As far as loop connections go, I really like the Perfection Loop, although I think it's probably better for leader-to-flyline connections than tippet-to-fly connections. The best part about the Perfection Loop is that the loop is in line with the line coming out of it, as opposed to many other loops that leave the loop kinked at an angle to the line.

I decided to hunt down some of these instructions, for simplicity's sake. I found the Perfection/Turle Knot, Perfection Loop, and Trilene Knot all on one page: http://www.angelfire.com/ia3/fishing/knots.htm

As I did my searches, I got a lot more hits on "Turle Knot" than I did "Perfection Knot". Maybe I'm the only one who calls this a Perfection Knot - I think I learned it from a pretty old book, so maybe that name is antiquated. Every online diagram I found for it demonstrates it on a turned-up eye. The thing to remember is to put the line DOWN through the eye on a turned-down eye and UP through the eye on a turned-up eye.

-Shawn
Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
www.davisflydesigns.com
Shawnny3January 28th, 2007, 7:45 am
Moderator
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
OK, here are the instructions for the mid-leader fly attachment. If you guys are interested in loop connections for flies, you may really like this one. The way I figured this one out was when I saw the Dropper Loop illustrated in a book one time. Apparently, people make this loop larger than the fly they're going to attach, then attach the fly by passing the loop through the hook-eye, wrapping it over the entire fly, and pulling it taut. The problem with this, as I see it, is that a large loop is much more likely to cause tangles in the leader, and I don't need anything that makes fishing more aggravating. So I came up with a way of minimizing the size of the loop while still allowing the fly to dangle freely.

First, take a look at the instructions for the Dropper Loop: http://www.cptdave.com/dropper-loop.html

Now, essentially the traditional Dropper Loop amounts to making 6-10 turns of leader around itself and then dropping the loop through one of the middle turns. My adjustment is simple: Before starting the knot, thread the line through the eye of your fly, then make your turns such that the fly is dangling from the part that will become the loop. Then, drop the fly along with the loop through one of the middle turns and pull the knot tight. As the knot is being pulled tight, adjust the size of the loop so that it is just big enough to allow the fly swing freely.

As I said, the biggest advantage of this rig is that the fly is very close to the leader but still dangles freely. The biggest disadvantages of this type of rig are that it does not allow you to change the fly easily (you'd better be sure you want to fish it for awhile) and that you cannot use it if you already have a fly attached to the end of the leader. It is easy, however, to remove the fly without disrupting the leader - you just clip the loop and leave yourself with a Barrel Knot in your leader. Both styles of dropper loops are nice in that if your dropper fly snaps off, there's a good chance the rest of the leader will be left intact and you won't lose your tippet and all your flies.

I've also used this style of rig to attach multiple streamers to my line, specifically for lake fish feeding on spawning minnows. I tied special streamers for this purpose with small mono loops tied off the top rear of their hooks that I'd thread the leader through to keep the flies in line with the leader at all times. The intent was to give my flies the strong profile of a school of minnows darting around in unison and draw the attention of cruising salmon and browns. This was a perfect application of my dropper style because I was not changing flies often (and if I wanted to, I would usually change the entire leader to another pre-prepared leader). This streamer rig is innovative enough and I've had nice enough results with it that I hesitate to share it with strangers. But we don't have any of those here, do we? Besides, I've left out enough of the subtleties that someone would still have to exercise a little ingenuity to make it work well...

(Louis, can you tell you're not the only one with a knot-obsession? Thanks for starting this thread.)

-Shawn
Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
www.davisflydesigns.com
MartinlfJanuary 28th, 2007, 10:31 am
Moderator
Palmyra PA

Posts: 2907
OK, I should have told myself, or Shawn, “Don’t get me started on this.” But here is the wages of true obsession. Shawn led me to look on the internet—something I’ve never done before, and the chase was on. (don’t worry Shawn, I’ll forgive you—at least by by spring, when the olives start popping off in Bellefonte). I found the excerpt from Art Scheck’s book below on one site, and have quoted liberally. My next step is to get Scheck’s book to learn about the Bimini tippets or the ligature knot, along with other tidbits it promises to offer. I’ll try to report on the book later. Below Scheck’s excerpts you will find some other summaries and my final conclusions.

Art Scheck
Excerpted from Fly-Fish Better (Stackpole Books, July 2005, 256 pages)
“If you persist in attaching tippets with blood knots, surgeon's knots, or even the Orvis tippet knot, then attach your flies with clinch knots. This way, you will most often break the line at the hook rather than at the top of the tippet. Yes, you will have a much weaker rig than you could have with better connections. But that's your problem. Broken-off tippets that you leave behind are a problem for other anglers, the fish, and wildlife. Anglers should not add plastic trash to the environment. . . .
If you use the Bimini tippets described in the previous chapter or the ligature knot covered in chapter 3, then you can use better line-to-hook knots — with nylon. With fluorocarbon, which makes poor line-to-line knots, only a Bimini tippet will let you use one of the stronger tippet-to-fly knots.
If you choose to stick with the clinch, tie it well. My tests indicate that a six-turn clinch always beats a five-turn clinch in light nylon. A seven-turn knot is better still, beating the six-turn clinch in 80 percent of my tests.
The line performs some interesting gymnastics as the knot tightens, so always lubricate a clinch before drawing it tight. Pull it up smoothly, not with a jerk, and pull only on the standing line, not on the tag end. Pull hard to seat the knot; it pays to deliberately break a few dozen clinch knots to get a feel for how hard you can pull. Don't clip the tag end flush; leave a little room for slippage.
The improved clinch knot seems to offer no improvement. In most of my knot-against-knot tests, the standard and improved versions came out about even. When there was a difference, the standard clinch beat the improved one 60 percent of the time. . . .
The two most popular loop knots for attaching flies are the Duncan loop and the nonslip mono loop described by Lefty Kreh and Mark Sosin in Practical Fishing Knots. I had long used the Duncan loop, because it seemed easier to tie. But my tests revealed that there's no contest between the two. When it's tied correctly, the nonslip loop always beats the Duncan loop. Always. In 100 percent of tests. Period. Done.
The nonslip mono loop also beat the clinch knot in 100 percent of my tests, and almost always beat the Palomar and Trilene knots, which are often touted as among the strongest connections.
The nonslip mono loop also beat the clinch knot in 100 percent of my tests, and almost always beat the Palomar and Trilene knots, which are often touted as among the strongest connections. With any nylon that I tried, the nonslip mono loop tied according to Kreh and Sosin's instructions proved as consistently strong as any other knot; that is, no other knot beat it more than half the time. In test rigs made with two nonslip loops, the knot occasionally achieved 100 percent efficiency with the line breaking somewhere between the two knots. In light nylon, the nonslip mono loop appears to be the strength champion. …
The Trilene Knot
Since I'd long used this popular knot and always regarded it as strong and secure, I included it my comparisons. For the most part, it justifed my faith. The nonslip mono loop, Orvis knot, and 16-20 consistently beat the Trilene knot in 3X and lighter materials, but the Trilene beat the other knots I tried. In light nylon, it is always stronger than the clinch (winning 100 percent of contests) and usually stronger than the Palomar.”

Summaries of some articles and references:

Charlie Meck cites Rio's knot tests in Mid Atlantic Fly Fishing Guide 6/04 in terms of percent of line strength. Some results for tippet to leader: Fluoroflex 4X to Powerflex 3X. Double Surgeon’s 73 percent; 5 turn Blood 81 percent; Triple Surgeon’s 88 percent. Some results for tippet to fly: Duncan loop 94 percent [Scheck disagrees, as does Kreh]; Clinch 92 percent [but Meck notes it slipped many times, as Scheck notes above, tie it well if you use it]; Turle 82 percent; Improved Clinch 78 percent.

Kreh Fly Fisherman 9/04 describes the 16-20 knot and the Eugene knots as the strongest he has found recently, and recommends the 16-20.

Kreh Fly Fisherman 5/01 describes strong knots and praises the Trilene knot; an updated article which also shows the 16-20 knot is found online at

http://www.flyfisherman.com/skills/lkknots/index16.html

A neat animated description of the non-slip loop—Lefty Kreh’s favorite loop:
http://www.animatedknots.com/rapala/index.php?LogoImage=LogoGrog.jpg&Website=www.animatedknots.com

See the home page of the above site for other knots.

Another site showing the 16-20, the ligature, and others:

http://www.froghairfishing.com/__knots.cfm?ID=1

Great animation of the ligature knot, called here the simple blood knot:

http://www.orlandooutfitters.com/knots/knot.asp?id=11

If you're still using fluorocarbon after that other thread, see this:

http://www.santacruzflyfishermen.org/scff92/RodTips.html

or "Orvis tippet knot" on this site:

http://www.orvis.com/orvis_assets/files/index.html

I rarely break fish off, but when a knot fails, something has gone wrong that didn’t have to—and since with trout the variables are so often out of one’s hands it’s reassuring to find something that offers some measure of control. My final conclusions:

A. I’ll continue to use the triple surgeons for tippet to leader until I learn the ligature or Bimini tippet, whichever is easier to tie.

B. The non-slip mono loop, or Rapala knot will continue to be my loop of choice.

C. The next tier who finds me practicing knots at the tire dealer will learn how to tie the 16-20 knot (for ring eye hooks not needing a loop), and I’m going to relearn the Harvey knot, which is much stronger than the Turle (sorry Shawn) for up or down eye hooks. If I use the clinch, I'll be very careful with tightening it fully. Here's a great animation that shows the 16-20

http://www.orlandooutfitters.com/knots/knot.asp?id=12

D. I’ll probably use the Crawford knot (90 percent in some tests) some from time to time, especially with midges.

E. I'm going to try to learn Shawn's loop method, having cut and pasted it into a file and saved it.

F. OW, my head hurts.








"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
TaxonJanuary 28th, 2007, 3:18 pm
Site Editor
Plano, TX

Posts: 1294
... led me to look on the internet—something I’ve never done before ...


Louis-

Surely you jest!
Roger Rohrbeck
www.FlyfishingEntomology.com
Shawnny3January 28th, 2007, 3:55 pm
Moderator
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
Thanks, Martin, for that article - I should look into some of those. I agree wholeheartedly with you about the Triple Surgeon's for attaching tippets. The Blood Knot works much better on larger lines and has a nicer profile than the Surgeon's (so I use it exclusively when I'm tying leaders), but the Surgeon's is stronger on lighter connections and connections in which one line is quite a bit larger or stiffer than the other (often the case when attaching tippet to leader).

About the loop connections, I would only add that any loop connection allows the fly to chafe against the line, possibly weakening it over time, especially if the hook has been used previously and has rust in the eye. So, while Scheck finds that the Non-slip Loop beats all other knots, that may not be the case after a little fishing or in all circumstances. I'm reasonably sure none of Scheck's tests took abrasion into account. Just one more thing to think about.

I've seen variable reports on the Turle Knot, some stating it has near 100% strength and others stating it is one of the weaker knots around. I know in my experience it has proven much stronger than the clinch knots. There are a variety of ways to tie it, so that may be a factor in the conflicting reports. Also, and this must be said of ANY knot: If you don't tie it well, all knots suck. It is easy to get a bad impression about a knot that you don't know how to tie well. I think that's one of the reasons there is so little clarity on this issue - what works for us is usually what we tie well, and that's different for everyone.

-Shawn
Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
www.davisflydesigns.com
MartinlfJanuary 28th, 2007, 8:10 pm
Moderator
Palmyra PA

Posts: 2907
Taxon, forgive my imprecision--I've never searched for knotty information on the net before. I was pleased to find such a wealth of information, and some updates that forced me to rethink my "tried and true" approaches. Now, what knots are in your wallet?

Shawn, you are so right. We all develop our own style and favorites when it comes to rigging. What works for one may not work well at all for another.

As far as the ligature knot goes, that Orvis tippet knot looks like another good option. I did lose a big rainbow once when my Double Surgeons connecting my fluorocarbon tippet failed. Some research led me to the Triple Surgeons just after, but I wish I had seen the above studies before that trip.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
TrowpaJanuary 29th, 2007, 5:17 am
Eastern PA

Posts: 31
Good info - thanks.

I think almost more important than what knot you tie is that you tie it well (technique and lubrication) and that you handle your drag correctly. Personally, i like to keep things simple - i do a wide variety of fishing, using everything from 7x tippet for the local trico hatch through 80-100lb test for stripers, blues, and shark with (ok i admit it - with spinning gear!!! Hey, wife hasn't authorized that 9 weight purchase yet).

So if I'm not careful, I'll end up with dozens of knots swirling in my head each with its specific purpose. However, if they are not done well, even a bimini twist will fail quickly. I stick with simple, easy to tie knots - they may not be the ultimate in strength in the lab, but when on the water tied with cold fingers in low light, i want knots that i know I can tie consistantly well.

For my fat fingers it has come down to this:

fly fishing - trilene (for the fly) and bloodknot for tippet.

For heavier lines(saltwater, surf fishing) - terminal knot - palomar and double uniknot or (if it is warm and comfortable) blackbeard's "standard leader knot" for shock leaders.
-Steve
MartinlfJanuary 29th, 2007, 11:47 am
Moderator
Palmyra PA

Posts: 2907
Steve, I agree; for me it basically will be the Orvis tippet knot (David, it looks easier than the Ligature knot, thanks for the recommendation), the 16-20 knot, and the Non-slip Mono Loop.

When my hands are cold and shaking, it'll probably be the familiar Clinch or Crawford, unless I can get the line twice through the eye, then, based on Steve and Shawn's recomendation, I just might use a Trilene which I haven't tied since my old spin fishing days.

After doing the research, I tried to provide as much information above so folks could make their own choices. I know it's a lot to digest. Like I said, it made my head hurt.

All best,
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
JADJanuary 29th, 2007, 6:20 pm
Alexandria Pa

Posts: 362


You guys are really interesting. Just click on this site
http://www.itinerantangler.com/podcasts/video/ ------then on the Davy knot its a 100 % . I use the knot Switcher & Richards has on their tape(Advanced Strategies for Selective Trout)been using this knot for 20 years ,ties in seconds with large holes which is good the older you get.:)Sorry Don't remember but worth taking time to look it up.

Keep up the good work.
John

They fasten red (crimson red) wool around a hook, and fix onto the wool two feathers which grow under a cock’s wattles, and which in colour are like wax.
Radcliffe's Fishing from the Earliest Times,
MartinlfJanuary 30th, 2007, 5:53 am
Moderator
Palmyra PA

Posts: 2907
Hi John, The Davy knot is the same knot Don Holbrook has in his book, Midge Magic, page 6; it's similar to the Crawford knot, in that they both end up putting a figure 8 knot on the tippet, but the Crawford has an extra loop. Lefty Kreh said he didn't like the Davy, but that may have just been personal preference. The video claims 100%, but others put it at 80%. I wish Rio had included it in their knot tests. Lefty says a good test is tie two hooks on either end of a section of tippet material and pull with pliers to see which pops first, to test knot against knot. Scheck did this, I believe, for his comparisons. Perhaps I'll have to try this on the Davy knot.

I'm editing this in later, but I found a very interesting discussion of the Davy knot, and a few others; see the URL below. It reassured me to find so many others out there obsessing over knots. Heck, it's in the 20's here, work is under control now, and one can tie flies just so long . . .

http://outdoorsbest.zeroforum.com/zerothread?id=509623


The balloon indicators video is interesting also. Guides were using them a lot on the Henry's Fork when I was there several years ago. They were very visible, light, and unsinkable, but I felt a bit silly with one on my line. But hey, if it works . . . ?
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
BjanzenJanuary 30th, 2007, 7:12 am
Near Chattanooga, TN

Posts: 13
John,

I have made a few attempts to tie the Davy knot and I can't seem to get one to hold well. I watched that video over and over and I think he isn't saying enough at the end of the knot and I am missing something.

I tied a 7 turn Clinch on the other end with another hook and it broke 3 Davy knots and still held. Maybe I will just stick with my "Cinch" knot ;-)

Barry
MartinlfJanuary 30th, 2007, 8:10 am
Moderator
Palmyra PA

Posts: 2907
Barry, others in the thread I cite just above had similar results, though some did not. Take a look if you get a chance. Based on this, and Lefty's recommendations, I'd use the Crawford if I wanted a figure 8 type knot. It's pretty easy to tie once you get the hand, and from what I can tell, doesn't slip, as the clinch can. I still like both of these knots. Take a look at the 16-20.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
BjanzenJanuary 30th, 2007, 2:26 pm
Near Chattanooga, TN

Posts: 13
Louis,

I will look at those knots......maybe I can find something I like better. I have a holder that helps me spin the fly for the Clinch. Makes dropping the fly in the water a little less likely. I can tie pretty quickly that way as well.

Update.....I have played with the Davy and the "orvis" knot I think it is called (has an extra turn through the last loop of the knot) and I have gotten better tying it. It is now outholding my clinch knots every time. I actually had the tippet snap before the knot in a couple of tests. Maybe I can learn this knot well enough to fish it.

In the past I have tried the non-slip loop and just can't get it with 5X tippet. This Davy knot seems easier to tie so far. I remember Lefty showing me one last fall but I couldn't tie is fast enough to put it into "use" Went back to my "Cinch" knot.

Maybe I will replace it with the Davy. Will update more later.

Barry
MartinlfJanuary 30th, 2007, 4:08 pm
Moderator
Palmyra PA

Posts: 2907
Barry, based on what Lefty said about the Davy, and what many testers have found, I'm going to stay with other knots. I suspect the Davy is inconsistent and sometimes only about 80% of the line strength. I'll bet Lefty showed you the 16-20; it's possibly his most recent knot of choice and is featured in a 9/04 Fly Fisherman article. I'm finding a way to tie it by grasping the upper loop between my thumb and forefinger of my left hand and letting the fly hang as I make the turns over the line between the top of the loop and the fly. So far so good. Lefty told me he uses the Crawford (see above) when he wants a quick knot, and it's somewhat like the Davy, but has an extra turn that I believe makes it much stronger. Best I can tell it's a 90% knot, but it is very consistent. I use it from time to time and have never had it fail. Like the Davy it makes a tiny knot--good for midge fishing. The Orvis knot is supposed to be a very good knot, but based on what tests indicate, I think the 16-20 is a bit stronger. Don't give up on the non slip mono loop if you want free movement in your nymphs. Several authors say this makes a difference. Try tying a small loop in the line to start, then tightening the second loop (formed by the line that goes into the hook eye) down some after feeding the line through the eye and back through the loop on the line. When I get these two loops small enough without closing either of them I'm usually happy with the final result. Make your wraps, then go back through the line loop the same direction you came out. One of the diagrams in the threads above should help, perhaps the one on the Orvis site. I've never had one of these slip or fail, though it did take a while to learn to tie them confidently.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
GONZOJanuary 30th, 2007, 8:33 pm
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
I've really enjoyed reading this thread, as usual. But whenever the tippet-to-fly knot is considered out of context (the context being that it is just the final link in a chain of knots) some of the practical elements always seem to get lost.

Perhaps it is our tendency to borrow notions from different forms of angling that makes these discussions go down the road of debating strength test ratings. If we believe that the typical trout fishing situation has the same knot-related requirements as, say, going for a line class record in saltwater, then the search for the 100% wonder knot is probably justified. But the requirements are not the same.

Here's where I think they differ:

1. For most trout fishing, the most critical knot in terms of strength is the tippet-to-leader knot, not the tippet-to-fly knot.

2. Unless you feel that there is some virtue in leaving various lengths of tippet attached to a fly after a break-off, you don't want a 100% knot attached to the fly. Depending upon the strength of the leader-to-tippet knot, even 80 or 90% knots can be too strong.

3. Tippet and knot strength is not an absolute, more-is-always-better situation. As long as the rod and tippet (in combination) have the strength to efficiently land the fish you are targeting, any extra strength is gravy and ultimately becomes meaningless at some point. A twenty lb. tippet is stronger than a five lb. tippet; but if the rod is only capable of exerting 2-4 pounds of pressure before breaking, then how much value does the extra strength really have in practical terms? I don't like winching fish straight out of the water, nor do I like hooking fish that I have little chance of landing. For average trout (8-20") on average rods (3-6 weight) with average tippets (3X-6X), most well-tied knots provide more than adequate strength for nearly all fish-landing purposes.

4. For many trout-fishing situations, tippet size selection often has more to do with fly size and presentation considerations than visibility or strength. If both 3X and 5X tippets provide sufficient strength for the situation (and they usually do), I'll go with the size that best benefits the presentation. (Say, 3X for a large heavy streamer and 5X for a smaller nymph.)

5. While a loop knot in heavier (stiffer) leader and a clinch knot in lighter (more flexible) leader both allow more freedom of movement than a clinch in heavier leader, it is not the same kind of movement and they are not necessarily interchangeable. Thinner tippets also sink quicker, sometimes requiring less weight to reach the same depth.

Let me go back to the Art Sheck quotation:
If you persist in attaching tippets with blood knots, surgeon's knots, or even the Orvis tippet knot, then attach your flies with clinch knots. This way you will most often break the line at the hook rather than at the top of the tippet.


I completely agree that for most trout fishing you want the tippet-to-fly knot to be the weakest link in the chain. And I would add that if you use Perfection Loops to link leader to tippet, the clinch knot is still too strong--breaks will consistently occur at the lower Perfection Knot. Even when using blood or surgeon's knots, it's often a gamble as to which knot (tippet or fly) will break first.

So, unless you are using a leader-to-tippet knot that is considerably stronger than your tippet-to-fly knot, the search for stronger ways to attach the fly to the tippet goes one knot too far.

IMHO,
Gonzo
MartinlfJanuary 30th, 2007, 9:23 pm
Moderator
Palmyra PA

Posts: 2907
Well, as usual, Gonzo sheds light on the forest, helping us put each tree into a reasonable context. I'm first going to focus on the leader to tippet connection, as Scheck cautions, then try to find the knots that best suit my purposes. Gonzo's observation may draw me back to my good old Crawford and clinch eventually. I'll have to see just how strong that Orvis tippet knot is, then make some final decisions. I've only contributed one fly plus tippet to a fish, that rainbow I mentioned earlier, but it was one tippet too many. Though I'm hopeful it didn't give him too much trouble (it was 6X and he was plenty big enough to snap it if it snagged), I'm not completely certain.

I would like Gonzo to elaborate a bit on one of his comments, if possible. I think I know where he may be heading with it, but only he knows for sure:

While a loop knot in heavier (stiffer) leader and a clinch knot in lighter (more flexible) leader both allow more freedom of movement than a clinch in heavier leader, it is not the same kind of movement and they are not necessarily interchangeable.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
GONZOJanuary 30th, 2007, 9:50 pm
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
Nice take, Louis. Now let's see if I can set the hook without breaking you off!

My point is that a free-swinging fly on a stiffer leader is not the equivalent of a tightly attached fly on a more flexible leader. The loop knot does not change the drag or stiffness of the leader, it only allows the fly to swing on the end of it. For freedom of movement during a drift, the ideal solution would seem to be a loop knot on the most flexible leader that provides the needed strength, as long as the leader-to-tippet knot is stronger than the loop knot. Make sense?

Now, if anyone can provide easy-to-tie knots that meet those criteria, I'm all ears! :)
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