Troutnut.com Fly Fishing for Trout Home
User Password
or register.
Scientific name search:

> > Homage to Louis: the Davy Knot revisited

EntomanJuly 30th, 2013, 9:10 pm
Site Editor
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
It seems whenever the topics of tippets or knots have been discussed over the years, Louis (Martinlf) has consistently been a strong proponent of the Davy Knot somewhere in the thread. While never challenging his belief in the knots strength, I expressed skepticism because modern materials with sound knots are rarely the reason for lost fish and because I had my favorite knots down and have tied them so many times over the years that changing at that point in my career would be counter-productive. My point was a few ounces in braking strength gained was a poor trade for consistency and ease (with knots you know well), especially in the conditions of wind or low light. Consistency is the key and that while sound knots are rarely the reason for lost fish, knots poorly executed often are. In other words, stick with the knots you know and tie well. That was my position at the time...

Anyway, I promised to experiment with it and report back. Between tying flies and working on the Encyclopedia this Winter I conducted tests stretching a foot or so of various tippet materials between hooks pulled until breakage occurred. Only four knots were tested: Davy knot, Imp. (double) Davy, clinch, and Imp. clinch. Nylon was always soaked for a few minutes before testing. "Champion" knots where never used twice and hooks were rotated out of tests so that neither would skew results. After hundreds of tests, the results proved the following (from weakest to strongest):

Davy Knot
Clinch
Imp. Clinch
Imp. (double) Davy

Looking a little at some of the stats showed the following:

Davy Knot vs. - Clinch 35%, Imp. Clinch 10%, Imp. Davy 0%
Imp. Davy vs. - Davy Knot 100%, Clinch 100%, Imp. Clinch 97%

I was astounded how adding one more turn before drawing up the Davy so greatly improved its performance. A good consistent knot will usually test out in the 70% range. The Imp. Davy only broke twice against the Imp. clinch and never failed against the others! I've never had a knot do even close to that well before... I also learned during the process how to tie the knot easily and quickly (it is so ridiculously easy that tying it in the dark is now no biggie, if you are willing to waste a little material). Another thing noticeable is the knot "signature" is tiny to the point of invisibility in the small sizes (so tiny that it's hard to believe the knot could be that effective). Bottom line, with test results and characteristics like that, even this stubborn angler thought, "Okay, I need to try this knot on the water!"

I almost reported on this earlier but decided to wait until after thorough field testing. Suffice to say that it has been really put through the rigors these last six months - and passed with flying colors!

An "Old Dog" can learn new tricks. Kudos and thanks, Louis!
"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman
MartinlfJuly 30th, 2013, 9:25 pm
Moderator
Palmyra PA

Posts: 2907
Thank you, Kurt. Two things I really like about the Davy are how quickly I can change flies with it, and how little tippet it uses up if you draw it down the right way. I use it about 90% of the time now, giving the extra turn (double davy/improved davy) when the hook wire is too big for the tippet. If the knot doesn't bite and slips or if the tippet just looks to be too small I double it. Most folks I tell about it just roll their eyes, though. ;>
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
EntomanJuly 30th, 2013, 9:43 pm
Site Editor
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Mine didn't roll, but I admit they got pretty squinty with an eyebrow raised... :):)LOL

Another great attribute is the knot is frictionless drawing up, making it incredibly forgiving. No spit is required. Since the draw up is far less finicky, it is great for beginners (or the experienced angler fighting buck fever with a 20" brown working a few feet away). This is especially valuable with fluoro that can be sticky.

BTW - adding a second turn is so easy and fast that I don't bother confusing my muscle memory with using both. At least for me, single turn Davy tests showed that using fine tippets on hooks any bigger than a #16 dry wire is done at considerable risk, even if it doesn't slip when pulled up.

BTW2 - for those that haven't tried it, if proper tension isn't supplied when drawing up, a tiny loop can form with the tag. This weakens the knot substantially. a simple tug on the tag and a re-tightening solves the problem. No need to start over as with other knots.
"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman
Feathers5July 31st, 2013, 10:37 am
Posts: 287I use the clinch knot and it has never failed me. What is a Davy knot? Louis, post a tutorial.
SayfuAugust 1st, 2013, 12:46 pm
Posts: 560Man did that Davy knot make me feel ignorant! Read it in a Flyfherman Mag a few years back with a picture included. I got out the mono strand, and time after time the knot would slip out! Been takin high blood pressure meds ever since!
FalsiflyAugust 1st, 2013, 2:01 pm
Hayward, WI.

Posts: 656
http://flyspoke.blogspot.com/2010/01/davy-knot.html
For those of you who have a copy of the first edition (I don't know if there has been a second) of "Midge Magic"/ Don Holbrook, Ed Koch, go to page 6. It would seem that there my be a question of who first came up with the "Davy Knot" and when.

Falsifly
When asked what I just caught that monster on I showed him. He put on his magnifiers and said, "I can't believe they can see that."
Kschaefer3August 1st, 2013, 2:36 pm
St. Paul, MN

Posts: 376
This is the only set of instructions I could find showing the double davy. Thought it may be useful. I really like the small footprint on this knot. I now have a new one for dries. http://mattsbucket.blogspot.com/2011/10/tying-double-davy-knot.html
MartinlfAugust 1st, 2013, 4:12 pm
Moderator
Palmyra PA

Posts: 2907
The internet has lots of tutorials. Note Davy Wotten's comment on the link Kyle posted. I tie the Double Davy the other way, not the way illustrated in the photos. You have to find the one that best suits the way you want to hold the hook and wrap the line. I had the same problem Joshua did until I learned to match tippet to hook wire, or to use the double Davy. You just have to play around with it enough to learn what works for you. I don't know who first tied the knot, but it has saved me a lot of time on the stream, and Kurt's observation on friction is telling, as friction is what often weakens a knot.

Oh, and here's some other strength testing:

http://mattsbucket.blogspot.com/2011/10/knot-testing.html

Kurt's pretty much convinced me to just use the Double Davy, though I've landed a number of fish 17" and above using the single Davy. I understand the Orvis knot tests strong with smaller diameter tippets, so I'd like to test it against the Davy in 7X someday when I have lots of time. Perhaps after I retire. :)

P.S. Kurt, next test the Ligature Knot against other tippet to leader knots. It's all I use when I have the time to tie it properly. You must wet it with water, not spit, and draw it down carefully, though. After several years it's gotten easier to tie, and it never, never breaks. It's hard to find directions on the internet, but Art Scheck's book Fly-fish Better has good directions.

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

--Fred Chappell
Kschaefer3August 1st, 2013, 4:43 pm
St. Paul, MN

Posts: 376
I am at work and can't watch videos and that was the only set of instructions with pictures for the double davy, that I could find anyway. So do you wrap twice over the top leg (based on the photos), or the bottom leg? Does it even matter which leg you pass over twice?
MartinlfAugust 1st, 2013, 4:49 pm
Moderator
Palmyra PA

Posts: 2907
Kyle, from his post on the blog, Davy seems OK with tying it all three ways, so, I think no, it doesn't matter. I typically make one extra turn the same way I made the last one. Kurt, what did you do?
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
LastchanceAugust 1st, 2013, 8:42 pm
Portage, PA

Posts: 437
I think we're just trying to reinvent the wheel.
EntomanAugust 1st, 2013, 11:49 pm
Site Editor
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
I start it with the tag pointing right as the under leg. Then I bring it over the top leg and back through the loop from the back side. The next step is to reverse directions by wrapping the tag (that is now pointing left) around the bottom leg only. Do this twice. When you are done with this step the forming knot should look like a loop with two counter twists with the loop around the top leg (which is the main line). There are several ways to get to this configuration and I'm not sure it makes a difference how you get there. For reasons I can't explain, if you go over the top leg and then bring it down under the bottom for the two turns on the bottom leg the knot is not as strong and more prone to slippage. This or failing to hang onto the tag until the knot draws tight are the reasons for trouble.
"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman
EntomanAugust 1st, 2013, 11:55 pm
Site Editor
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Bruce -
I think we're just trying to reinvent the wheel.

I don't know about "reinvent" but I will grant you "improve."
Can you imagine a Formula One race car with Roman chariot wheels?:)
"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman
Feathers5August 2nd, 2013, 9:02 am
Posts: 287Sure, if the Formula One Racing car finished in first place in the most of the races. "The Clinch is a Cinch." Maybe we can get t-shirts made?


Or, "If this shirt was a mirror, you'd be looking at a pile of ugly."

Or, nevermind.

Bruce, Goose, Lastchance, Feathers5.
MartinlfAugust 2nd, 2013, 9:48 am
Moderator
Palmyra PA

Posts: 2907
Kurt, that's the way I was taught to tie the Double Davy. As you note, it's very fast, not prone to knot burn, and very strong. Your wheel comparison seems apt.

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

--Fred Chappell
EntomanAugust 2nd, 2013, 4:21 pm
Site Editor
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Kyle -

Your link doesn't show the knot the way I tested it or use it, so I can't comment on its strength or other attributes. The second turn is on the bottom leg the way I tie it (as per Louis' instructions in the older thread I couldn't find).

Louis -

Yeah, the knot is is essentially just a twist loop over the main line that has been in use by sailors and the like for years. I'm not even sure who first used it in fly fishing. Anglers out West were using kip tail for divided winqs long before the Royal Wulff, but who gets the credit? The guy who exposes it to the most people through unknowing sports writers, I Guess. That's why there's a patent office.;)

Bruce -

Ha! That's why I had to hypnotize my wife! It has long since worn off...;)
"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman
SayfuAugust 3rd, 2013, 9:29 am
Posts: 560OK, you now have me back fussin with the Davy! What on the surface appears to me to make for a stronger connection is the fact the tag end winds up entering, and being locked in at the point where it is located, and not coming from the top of the wraps to the bottom to be secured. And it does look as if it can be tied with little tag left over to trim. REMEMBER..every knot that breaks will cinch down further before it breaks....do that firm cinching down in your hand.
MartinlfDecember 2nd, 2013, 8:16 pm
Moderator
Palmyra PA

Posts: 2907
Revisiting. I PM'd Kurt some time back telling him he'd entirely converted me to the Double Davy. Seems kind of ironic, but I very much appreciate his willingness to give the Davy a try, and to teach me a thing or two about it. Next on the list, the J Knot for leader to tippet. The Ligature Knot is very strong, possibly stronger than most others, but the Flyfisherman tippet tests have me curious about this new (to me) version of the Surgeon's Knot, which may be faster to tie and as strong.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
MartinlfMarch 12th, 2015, 9:41 pm
Moderator
Palmyra PA

Posts: 2907
For Bob. I haven't practiced the J knot yet, and almost always use a ligature for leader to tippet. See Kurt's comments on the Davy knot above, though.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
FlyflingerMarch 15th, 2015, 5:53 pm
Fredericksburg, Virginia

Posts: 30
This thread popped up at an opportune time for me, since I intend to switch to the Davy Knot to fish my wets. I've seen the Double Davy Knot and wondered whether I shouldn't hedge my luck with it. Good point you have about looking at several ways to tie it.
Page:12

Quick Reply

You have to be logged in to post on the forum. It's this easy:
Username:          Email:

Password:    Confirm Password:

I am at least 13 years old and agree to the rules.

Related Discussions

TitleRepliesLast Reply
Re: Knots.. Which one??
In Beginner Help by Bmark0610
9May 15, 2015
by Jbehrendt
Re: Knots
In Gear Talk by Martinlf
95Mar 26, 2012
by Martinlf
Re: knots
In Gear Talk by Sayfu
11Aug 3, 2013
by Sayfu
Re: Steelhead Report/Leader formula
In General Discussion by Goose
4Oct 7, 2011
by Sayfu
Fly Fishing - Basics, Knots and Techniques
In Fly Tying by Zakisimo
0
Re: Fly Fishing - Basics, Knots and Techniques
In Fly Tying by Zakisimo
2Dec 24, 2014
by Jb1023
Re: Double Surgeons Knots Are Breaking
In General Discussion by Mshumrick
12Aug 15, 2017
by PABrownie
Re: As a newbie knots?
In Beginner Help by Ukfb1
5Mar 26, 2012
by Martinlf
Re: Knots
In General Discussion by Mntman888
5Apr 30, 2015
by Martinlf
Re: Which is stronger, a blood knot or an improved clinch??
In Gear Talk by Jmd123
25Aug 18, 2011
by Sayfu
Most Recent Posts
Re: Holy Waters - over-rated
In General Discussion by Brian314 (Partsman replied)
Re: Changing fly line
In Gear Talk by Red_green_h
Re: 6wt reel help
In Gear Talk by Swampfox (Partsman replied)
Re: Cold weather fly fishing
In Beginner Help by Red_green_h
Re: Boots
In Gear Talk by Martinlf (Wbranch replied)
Re: nm
In Gear Talk by Red_green_h
Re: My (new) place and its environs
In the Photography Board by Jmd123 (Partsman replied)