How to Tie the Improved Clinch Knot for Fly Fishing

The improved clinch knot was one of the first fishing knots I ever learned and it’s widely used in the United Kingdom and the United States for attaching a fly, lure, hook, or swivel to the end of a fishing line.

Historically the improved clinch knot was called the salmon knot and was an improvement from the clinch knot version that provided the extra strength to land a salmon when fly fishing.

The improved clinch knot is a quick and easy knot to tie that is super reliable for both conventional and fly fishing.

How To Tie An Improved Clinch Knot

The method to tie an improved clinch knot is simple just make sure you have some tippet or fishing line and your hook, lure, swivel, or fly ready to go.

how to tie an improved clinch knot

Step 1

Thread the tag end of the tippet line through the eye of the fly tying hook of your fly. Hold the line at the eye with your thumb and use your fingers on your other hand to turn the tag end around the standing line 5 -7 times.

Step 2

Once every turn is complete, take the tag end and put it through the front loop. This is the loop that sits between the eye of the hook and the first turn. You could pull the knot tight now but you’d be doing the non-improved clinch knot version.

Step 3

Now it’s time to take the tag end and put it back through the big loop you just created. This loop sits between the turns you made and the tag end.

Once the line is through the second loop, wet the knot and pull the tag end until the knot is tight. Make sure the line coils closely around the eye of the hook and then cut off the end.

Here is a video show you the method for tying the improved clinch knot.


What is the difference between a clinch knot and improved clinch knot?

The main difference between a clinch knot and an improved clinch knot is the number of turns taken around the line. A clinch knot uses one turn around the line, while an improved clinch knot uses two turns.

The improved clinch knot is generally considered to be stronger and more secure than the regular clinch knot.

Why does my improved clinch knot fail?

An improved clinch knot can fail for a variety of reasons. The most common reason is that the knot was not tied properly. If the knot is not tied correctly, the extra turns will not be able to hold the line securely.

Another common reason for failure is that the line is not strong enough for the knot. If the line is too weak, the knot will not be able to hold the necessary tension. Additionally, if the knot is too tight, it will not be able to hold the tension and the knot will fail.

Which is stronger Palomar vs improved clinch knot?

The Palomar knot is generally considered to be the stronger of the two knots. This is because the Palomar knot uses an additional turn, which provides it with extra strength.

Additionally, the Palomar knot is not as susceptible to slippage as the improved clinch knot. However, the improved clinch knot is still a very strong and reliable knot for most applications.

Is the Orvis knot better than a clinch knot?

The Orvis knot is a variation of the clinch knot. It is generally considered to be slightly more reliable than the traditional clinch knot due to its additional turn.

Additionally, the Orvis knot is easier to tie than the clinch knot, making it a popular alternative for many anglers. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference; both knots are strong and reliable for most applications.

How strong is the improved clinch knot?

The improved clinch knot is a very strong knot and provides on average 84% knot strength but this depends on the type of lines you’re using.

With mono lines, the improved clinch knot has 107.5% knot strength, with fluoro lines 93.4% and braid 51.6% so don’t use it for braided lines. This knot is also hard to tie with anything above 25lb test line.

What is the improved clinch knot used for?

The improved clinch knot is one of the best knots for attaching a hook, swivel, fly, or lure to a mono or fluoro line.

It’s fantastic for freshwater fly fishing and even saltwater for species like bonefish, but since the knot isn’t so great when tied with a line over 25lbs, it’s not one of the knots you’d use when targeting big fish on the fly like Tarpon with 60 lb line.

Which is stronger Palomar or improved clinch knot?

palomar knot

The palomar knot has a strength of 91% on average and the improved clinch has an average strength of 84%. Both knots are pretty dam strong but they have different uses.

The Palomar’s uses are suited for all lines including braid and with heavier ones too, whereas improved clinch knots are best for light mono and not braid.

How do you make a clinch knot?

Making a clinch is just like making an improved except you only go through the first loop and tighten but not the second loop. It’s not such a reliable version with lighter lines as the ends aren’t secured in the second loop and can slip out the first loop.

But with heavier mono in the 60lb plus category, the first loop holds the ends well and it’s better than the improved method.

Why does my improved clinch knot fail?

There is usually one or two reasons why your cinch knot is failing. Either you didn’t wet it when tightening down the knot, you cut the ends too close to the knot and it’s slipping, or you didn’t use enough turns.

You have to use 6 or more turns for this knot to retain its strength so don’t cut corners.

See also our post here on how to tie a davey knot.

How do you tie an improved clinch knot quickly?

How do you tie an improved clinch knot quickly?

There is no special way to tie these knots quickly, it’s just about practice. The hardest part is getting the turns done fast and the key here is holding the line and hook tight with one hand and turning super fast around the main line with your other hand. Just keep practicing and you’ll get faster and faster.

Photo of author

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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