How to Tie an Arbor Knot for Fly Fishing: Step-by-Step Guide

The arbor knot is one of the best fishing knots you can use to attach your fishing line onto a fishing reel. It’s a simple and quick fishing knot to tie and you can attach braided fishing line, monofilament, or fluorocarbon securely to any type of fishing reel including spinning reels and fly reels.

The reason the knot is used for attaching a fishing line onto a reel spool is thanks to its non-slip properties and it’s super strong too. No matter what species I’m going after, I use an arbor knot to connect my backing to my fly reel.

How To Tie A Arbor Knot

how to tie an arbor knot

Step 1

First, take the spool of your fly or spinning reel and wrap the fishing line around it at least once. I prefer to wrap it around the spool two or three times for added strength and to stop it slipping a bit more. If you’re adding braid to a spinning reel, I highly recommend going around the spool two or three times.

Step 2

Take the tag end of the fishing line and pass it under the main line, over the top, and around making a loop. This is the beginnings of an overhand knot around the main line.

Step 3

Thread the tag end through the loop and pull it tight to complete the overhand knot. At this point, you should have an overhand knot tied around the main line.

arbor knot

Step 4

Take the tag end, and tie an overhand knot in the tag end only and pull it tight. This knot is used to stop the tag end from slipping through.

Step 5

Now pull the main part of the fishing line so that the first knot meets the second around the spool to complete the arbor knot. You should end up with a non slip knot that grips the spool with enough friction so that you can easily wind your line onto the reel.


  • When tying the arbor knot with braided line onto a spinning reel, make sure it comes with a braid-ready spool or there won’t be enough friction and it will slip when you wind the braid on the reel.
  • If you don’t have a braid-ready spool you can neatly wrap some electrical tape around the spool which will create enough friction to hold the braided line in place.
  • In the first step, I highly recommend wrapping your line around the spool at least two times for better knot performance.
  • Here is a video for you to watch on how to tie the arbor knot.

How strong is an arbor knot?

The arbor knot is very strong and retains 100% of the breaking strain of whatever type of fishing lines you’re using. This means if you’re using a 10 lb fishing line, the arbor knot will break under 10 lbs of pressure whether it’s tied with braid, monofilament, or fluorocarbon line.

What is the arbor knot used for?

The arbor knot has just one fishing use – it is one of the best knots for tying lines to the spools of fishing reels. This is because it’s super easy, quick, and simple to tie plus it doesn’t slip and it is super strong too.

How do you tie an arbor knot on a baitcaster?

To tie an arbor knot on baitcaster reels all you need to do is follow the exact same instructions above. Nothing changes whether you’re using braid or monofilament either, and it works on all reel types.

Can you tie braid directly to the spool?

Yes, if the spool is braid ready which means it will have grooves protruding from it. These allow the braid to catch and not slip when adding line to your reel. If the spool doesn’t have the grooves, you can wrap electrical tape around it for a fix or add some mono first, then tie the mono to your braid with a double uni knot or FG knot.

This doesn’t apply to fly reels however, the arbor knot grips their spools tightly regardless of the grooves.

What is the best knot to tie line on a reel?

What is the best knot to tie line on a reel?

In my opinion, the best knot to tie line on a reel with is an arbor knot. The arbor knot is quick and easy, super strong, and it doesn’t slip making winding your fishing line on the reel a simple task.

Also, when fishing, you should never really get spooled by a fish all the way down to the spool. So even though these knots are strong, they don’t need to be as 99.99% of the time, they are there to just hold the fishing line on the reel, not to hold the pressure of a fish.

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Jamie Melvin

Growing up fly fishing on trout streams in Kenya and the UK, Jamie has traveled the world in search of fly fishing nirvana. From his time managing bonefish lodges in the Bahamas and running fishing safaris in East Africa, all the way to guiding on the flats of Seychelles, there aren't many species or environments he hasn't experienced firsthand.

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