Basic Fly Fishing Knots You Should Know

All of us need to know a few good fly fishing knots to fall back on. Tying fly fishing knots isn't the glamorous or exciting part of fly fishing, but it is a crucial step.
Fly Fishing Knots

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You’ll have to connect up your backing, line, leader, tippet, and fly on every fishing trip, so memorizing a handful of fly fishing knots is essential.

But don’t worry! It’s not as hard as it seems. Just follow the instruction on tying fly fishing knots on the site below, and you’ll be all set to head out on the water.

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To get you started on knot tying, here’s our guide to the most important fly fishing knots you need to know.

Clinch Knot

The clinch knot is among the first fly fishing knots that many anglers will learn when they start fishing. Clinch knots are strong, multi-purpose fishing knots that are normally used to attach your fly to the tippet. However, you should know that this fishing knot can loosen over time. To ensure it does its purpose and doesn’t come loose, you’ll need to check on it occasionally.

You can also use it to attach the leader to the fly line loop, and fishermen also use it to add dropper flies to the main fly.

How to tie the Clinch Knot:

  1. Take the tag end and pass it through the eye of the hook.
  2. Leaving a few inches of tag, wrap the main line around the hook about 5 times.
  3. You’ll see a small loop near the hook eye – pull the tag through this loop.
  4. Pull the knot tight and clip off the tag end close to the knot.

Double Surgeon’s Knot

The Double Surgeon’s Knot is an ideal way to tie together lines with a similar diameter. The primary purpose of this fly fishing knot is to tie the leader and tippet together. Still, it’s a good one to know for many different fishing situations. For example, it’s also ideal if you need to attach sections of tippet together.

The Double Surgeon’s Knot is one of the strongest knots that fly fishermen use, provided it’s tied and used correctly. It’s not tricky to learn and can be tied even by cold, wet fingers.

How to tie the Double Surgeon’s Knot

  1. Grab your leader and tippet – set out around 5 inches of each parallel to each other.
  2. Use both lines to create a loop.
  3. Bring both lines through the loop once.
  4. Repeat one more time, passing the tippet and leader twice through the loop in total.
  5. Wet the knot with saliva or lip balm, and then carefully tighten the knot.
  6. Snip short the tag end.

Surgeon’s Loop

The Surgeon’s Loop is similar to the Double Surgeon’s Knot or Double Overhand Knot, and it’s a good fishing knot to know. The main purpose of the Surgeon’s Loop is to attach the backing to the fly reel. It’s also used by fishermen for the purpose of loop-to-loop connections, like when you need to connect the leader to the fly line.

How to tie the Surgeon’s Loop

  1. Create a bight with the rope.
  2. Pass the loop over and under both of the rope lines to form an overhand knot.
  3. Repeat as if you were going to tie a double overhand knot.
  4. Adjust the rope loop until it’s the size you want.
  5. Wet the knot and tighten.

Blood Knot

The Blood Knot is notoriously among the harder fly fishing knots to learn, but it’s worth it. Blood knots are used by fishermen to attach two sections of tippet to each other. It’s often used because it’s one of the flattest fly fishing knots, so it snags less on vegetation.

How to tie the Blood Knot

The blood knot is one of those fly fishing knots that sounds simple, but isn’t. Try to follow the instruction carefully to make sure you get it right!

  • Lay out your two lines next to each other.
  • Wrap one line around the other several times.
  • Thread the tag end between the two lines, where you started wrapping.
  • Repeat with the second line.
  • Lubricate and pull the knot tight, trimming the tag ends.

(Nailless) Nail Knot

The nail knot is most commonly used by fly fishermen to attach two lines with different diameters. We use it most often to attach the leader or backing to the fly line. This robust knot comes in handy as it’s so flat, making it easy to pass through snake guides. You can even use it for loop to loop connections if you like.

How to tie the Nail Knot

The best way to tie the nail knot is by using a nail knot tool. You can buy them online or from any good fly shop. Here’s what you need to do to tie the nail knot:

  1. Create a tag of around 10 inches. Hook the tag end in the tool’s fork, leaving the tag line running through the U tip.
  2. Now, take the tag end, wrap it several times (6-8) around the tool, and move it down toward the U tip
  3. Take an inch of fly line and insert it into the tool’s tip section
  4. With speed, remove the tag and the loop you’ve created from the tool
  5. Lubricate the knot and tighten.
  6. Cut the extra tag end off just below the knot.

Uni-Knot/Duncan Loop

The Uni Knot is a more specialized knot for tying on streamers. It resembles a slip knot that can be locked into place, allowing the fly to dangle from the loop with a natural movement. It’s also another option if you want to attach your fly line and leader using loops.

Instruction on how to tie the Uni Knot:

  1. Take around 8 inches of line and thread it through the hook of the eye to make a tag.
  2. Pull the lines taut and parallel with each other.
  3. Create a large loop around the hook eye with the tag line.
  4. Now, pull the tag through the loop and wrap around the running line.
  5. Wrap the tag line 5 more times.
  6. Pull gently for a loose loop, and then lubricate the knot with saliva or lip balm.
  7. Set the loop into the desired position and then tighten the knot fully.
  8. Cut the tag line just below the knot.

Fly Fishing Knots FAQ

How to tie fishing line?

Every fisherman has to be able to tie a fishing line and rope. Many people think that it’s too complicated, but it’s not actually too hard.

First, you need to know which knot to tie. Are you tying your backing onto the reel, your line onto the backing, or your fly onto the tippet? Then, you can decide which of the fly fishing knots to tie.

Above, you’ll find step-by-step instruction for many common fly fishing knots used out on the water. Follow the steps, and you’ll soon master the different fly fishing knots used to tie fishing line.

How to tie a fishing knot?

There are many fly fishing knots around, but most fishermen only use about 5 different knots regularly. Check out the tutorials above for the most common fly fishing knots. Practice a few times, and you’ll soon be tying those knots like a pro.

The Wrap Up

So there you have our complete guide to tying knots for fly fishing. With these fly fishing knots under your belt, you should be prepared for every fishing situation. Go ahead and bookmark this site so you can refer back to it whenever you need to. Why not give it a share on Facebook too, if you found it helpful!

Feel free to drop us a comment below on our site to let us know which fly fishing knots you use most often! We’d love to know! Check out many more fishing articles on the Fly Fisher Pro site.

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