How to Tie a Surgeon’s Knot: A 4 Step Guide

surgeons knot

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As an avid fly fisher, you’ve likely heard of the surgeon’s knot. Well-known for its simplicity and effectiveness, this knot serves as a critical link between your leader and tippet. Originating from the world of sailing, the surgeon’s knot has found its way into the fly fishing realm due to its remarkable reliability.

In this guide, we’ll show you how to tie the double surgeon’s knot, commonly known simply as the surgeon’s knot. We’ll also delve into the triple surgeon’s knot variant. So grab your line and let’s get started!

How To Tie A Double Surgeon’s Knot

how to tie a surgeons knot

Tying the double surgeon’s knot is straightforward. It doesn’t require any fancy tools, just a couple of line ends and some dexterity. It’s crucial to use lines of similar diameters to ensure the knot stays secure.

Step 1

Overlap your two fishing lines, such as your leader and tippet line, by approximately 6-8 inches. Then, fold the lines together to form a loop.

Step 2

Take the tag end of your tippet and the entire main line of the leader and pass them through the loop twice. This forms a double overhand knot.

Step 3

Moisten the line with saliva or water and pull all four line ends in opposite directions to seat the knot. As you pull, you’ll notice a neat knot forming.

Step 4

Finally, trim the tag ends if you’re attaching a tippet to a leader. Alternatively, if you’re making a dropper rig for fly fishing or conventional fishing, leave the tag ends long.

Tying a Triple Surgeon’s Knot

Triple Surgeon's Knot - How to tie

The triple surgeon’s knot is just as easy to tie. Instead of creating two overhand knots, you’ll make three, forming a triple overhand knot. Once you’ve done this, follow the same steps as with the double surgeon’s knot.

A Couple of Tips

  • You can add as many passes through the loop as you like when tying the surgeon’s knot. The more passes, the stronger the knot, but it will also be bulkier.
  • Never use two lines of unequal diameter as the smaller line will slip under pressure.
  • Avoid using these knots when attaching braid to mono or fluoro as it will slip. The FG or double uni knot is best for these situations.

Check out this video showing you how to tie the surgeon’s knot.


What is the purpose of a surgeon knot?

Primarily used in medical procedures, the surgeon knot secures sutures and bandages. However, in the world of fly fishing, it’s an excellent knot for linking two lines of similar diameter.

How good is a surgeons knot?

When it comes to knot strength, the surgeon’s knot ranks high on the list. It is robust, secure, and reliable.

What is the difference between a square knot and a surgeons knot?

A surgeon knot is tied over two separate strands, making it more secure and tighter than a regular square knot.

Which is stronger, blood knot or surgeon’s knot?

The surgeon’s knot is generally considered stronger than the blood knot due to its secure and tight formation.

How strong is a surgeon’s knot?

A correctly tied surgeon’s knot can achieve 100% knot strength.

What is the best knot to tie a leader to a fly line?

What is a surgeon’s knot used for in fly fishing?

The surgeon’s knot is perfect for tying two lines of similar diameter to make a leader or for creating a dropper rig.

How strong is a triple surgeon’s knot?

The triple surgeon’s knot is as strong as a double surgeon’s knot when tied correctly, achieving 100% knot strength. It offers less chance of slipping due to the extra turns during the tying process.

What is the best knot to tie a leader to a fly line?

The knot you choose for attaching a leader to a fly line depends on whether your fly line has a welded loop and the size of the fish you’re after. For saltwater fishing with a looped fly line, tie a bimini to create a loop and make a loop-to-loop connection to the fly line.

For freshwater fishing without a welded loop, use a nail knot instead of the surgeon’s knot.


Remember, mastering the surgeon’s knot is a key step in your fly fishing journey. It may seem simple, but it’s these foundational skills that will make a world of difference to your fishing experience. Happy casting!

If you found this guide helpful, why not download our series of fly fishing books? They’re packed with more great tips and tricks to elevate your fly fishing game.

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