How to tie knots for fly fishing?

Everyone wants to know what knots are best used in fly fishing and how to tie knots. These are perhaps the most commonly asked questions about fly fishing and that’s why today I would like to take the opportunity to set it straight.

In my experience, there are five kinds of fly fishing knots that everyone should master to become at fly fishing. Out of these five knots, you will use two of them the most: the Double Surgeon and the Improved Clinch. What makes them so great is that once you get a few of them tied, you won’t have to tie them again unless you’re changing your line.

Without further ado, here are the top 5 knots for fly fishing starter kits that everyone should know how to tie:

  1. Double/Triple Surgeon’s Knot: This knot allows you to connect the leader to the tippet or the tippet to the tippet.
  2. Blood Knot: This knot is the one you use if you don’t have a loop on the end of the line or if your own leader material didn’t have a loop at the end and you were tinging on your own leader
  3. Arbor Knot: This knot allows you to tie the fly line to the reel and it’s likely you’ll only need this knot once if you’re adding your line to the rod.
  4. Improved Clinch Knot: This is the most recommended knot to use when you want to connect the tippet to the fly
  5. Non-Slip Loop Knot: This is the recommended knot to use when you want to add movement to your nymph and streamer presentation.

5 Common Fly Fishing Knots & How to Tie Them

1. Double/Triple Surgeon’s Knot

These are the easiest knots to learn when it comes to fly fishing and they’re great when it comes to joining two lines of equal or unequal size. They’re used to combine the leader to the tippet, a tippet or larger diameter to one of smaller diameter and also to building out the leader.

To tie this knot, get the two pieces of line next to each other and with both lines in one hand, form a loop and make sure there’s enough extra line to tie two overhand knots. Then, take both ends through the loop and pull them through a second time. If you want to make it a triple surgeon’s knot, just pull the lines through a third time. Wet the knot and pull it tight, then set it by pulling the four ends. Finally, just trim the ends and you’re good to go.

2. Blood Knot

If they don’t come with a pre-welded loop, the blood knot is the right choice for bringing the fly line and the leader together. This will work best when the lines are the same size, but it will also work with lines of different sizes.

To tie this knot, begin by overlapping the ends of the lines in an X shape while giving yourself enough range to work with on both ends. Then, twist the first line around the second one five times and bring the end back to the beginning between the two lines. Do the same thing with the second line, wrapping it in the opposite direction five times while you hold the first section in your free hand. Pull the lines in opposite directions and the turns will wrap and gather creating the knot by themselves. Finally, clip tag the ends to close the knot.

3. Arbor Knot

This knot is the right choice to secure the line to the reel and it will help you start loading your spool with the backing.

To tie this knot, simply take the fly line and wrap it once around the spool. Then, tie a single overhand knot around the fly line and tie another overhand knot on the end, an inch away from the first overhand knot. Pull the fly line tight so you can slide the first knot down to the spool and the second to engage against the first knot. Finally, trim the excess and you’re done.

4. Improved Clinch Knot

This knot is the most common choice to tie the end or last fly to the monofilament or fluorocarbon line. It’s reliable and it’s excellent to tie in lines testing bellow 20 pounds of breaking strength.

To tie this knot, grab the end of the tippet or leader and thread it through the eye of the hook then make 5 to 9 turns around the extended line. Bring the end of the line back through that first loop you made and take it through the big circle. Wet the knot and pull on the tag end so the coils are tight and slide tightly against the eye of the fly. Finally, clip the tag end while leaving a little extra excess to give it wiggle room and you’re set.

5. Non-Slip Loop Knot

This knot will allow you to add animation to your fly line in the water and it’s typically used on nymph and streamer rigs.

To tie this knot, begin with an overhand knot in the line but don’t close it. Leave enough room to slide the size down as you work on this. Take the end of the line through the eye of the fly, then grab the front and pass it through the overhand knot you just made. Wrap the end of the line around 5 times and feed the end of it back through the overhand knot where it exited. Wet the knot and slowly pull on the tag end to cinch the wraps together. Finally, pull the fly and the line in opposite directions to clinch the knot and clip the end leaving a bit of wiggle room.

As you can see, these 5 essential knows everyone should know how to tie knots for fly fishing are all very easy to put together and you can quickly learn how to do this to improve your fly fishing skills.