Vol 7 No. 7 - November 8, 2006

Knot-tying: Learn 'em or lose 'em

By Rusty Chinnis
sun staff writer

It seems that the fine art of tying knots has been relegated to a place where hooks gather rust and cobwebs fill the holes of dusty guides. It’s true that you don’t need a book of knots to tie on a lure and catch a fish, but it’s an art that can improve the likelihood of landing the fish of a lifetime. And even if that lunker doesn’t appear for awhile, you can impress the hell out of your friends and colleagues in the meantime.

It wasn’t long ago that I dusted off my copy of “Practical Fishing Knots II,” Mark Sosin and Lefty Kreh, sat down with the tome of twisted line, and began to practice some of the more respected knots. Sure, I could tie several knots, but it seemed that my repertoire had been reduced to only a couple.

Once I decided to expand my knot knowledge, it didn’t take long to master a number of important knots. It was amazing what I learned in an hour with a book, a pair of clippers and a spare spool of line. A short article isn’t the place to instruct you on how to tie these knots, but hopefully, it will help to inspire you to take the time to explore knot tying.

Here are a couple of the knots that you’ll find useful in rigging for fishing in the Gulf or the bay. The Bimini Twist is one of the most important knots you can learn. It takes some time to master, but it can be used as a foundation for all saltwater leader systems. The Bimini allows you to double your standing line into a loop, creates 100 percent knot strength and acts as a shock between small line and heavier leader.

The Surgeon’s Knot can be used to tie your leader (under 60 pounds) to the Bimini Twist. This is the knot to use when tying two lines of dissimilar diameters together in the dark. It’ really just an overhand knot tied with two (treat the double Bimini as one line) strands of line. One knot that I avoided for years, but recently mastered, is the Blood Knot. Preferred by most Keys guides for building leaders, this knot has a slim profile that easily slips through the guides of a fly rod.

The final step is to tie a hook or lure to the leader. The Non-Slip Mono Loop is my choice for several reasons — it’s easy to tie, tests near 100 percent, and forms a loop that gives bait and lures more range of motion. The knot has a couple of other advantages. It won’t tighten when a fish is hooked, and the tag end comes out facing away from the standing line which keeps it from picking up weeds or other debris.

With just these three knots, you can rig effectively for most fishing situations. One of the other knots you’ll find helpful is the Albright Special. This is the knot to tie when you’re rigging for Spanish mackerel or tarpon. It allows you to tie mono to wire without a swivel and lets you join 20-pound line to a 100-pound leader.

There are a few rules that will help you tie reliable knots no matter which ones you choose to use. First, make sure you give yourself plenty of line to make the knot. You use less line in the long run and learning will be a lot less frustrating.

Secondly and probably most importantly, wet your knots and tighten them firmly. Make sure they won’t slip when a fish tightens the line. It’s been proven that most knots fail when they slip. Use a pair of pliers on the tag eng and have a loop where you can place the hook when finalizing the knot. Follow these rules, tie the knots that work for you, and you’ll lose less fish and gain bragging rights!

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