How to Tie an Improved Clinch Knot – Fly Fishing Knots

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.

Improved Clinch Knot

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.

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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.

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.

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