One of the longest running mistakes I’ve made in fly fishing is waiting as long as I did to become proficient in the half dozen or so knots that we use on a daily basis when fishing!
Over the years of observing my own fishing process and the process of others I have noticed a marked improvement in the way people fish once there not apprehensive about tying knots.
Let me just say, I have never been in the Boy Scouts, and it took me several years just to learn how to tie my shoes, so I certainly don’t have any inherent knot tying skills. This may be why it took me as long as it did to come to the realization that being unable to proficiently tie essential knots was holding me back.
To clarify I am not talking about being able to tie a knot, I talking about being proficient in tying knots and there’s a big difference. For example, if every-time you have to tie a surgeons knot you break out in cold sweats, have to Youtube the tutorial video or re-tie it multiple times while cursing to get it right, suffice it to say, your not proficient in that knot.
The everyday fly fishing knots mostly include knots that bind leader to tippet and tippet to flies. There are several widely used knots in these categories but for the sake of brevity and my own bias I will address only the ones I deem as the easiest to learn, quickest to tie, and strongest.
Proficiency in knots like the clinch knot, surgeon’s knot, nail or blood knot, and my favorite the Davy knot can make a huge difference in how you fish. First of all it will make you a more productive angler and like it or not, the longer your flies are in the water, the better your chances are of catching fish.
I have witnessed people spending upwards of 15-20 minutes trying to untangle a birds nest of nymphing tackle and leader, when to cut and re-rig would have taken them only about 5 minutes if they were proficient in even just a few knots…this example includes me by the way.
The other notable difference in becoming a proficient knot tier is that it makes you a bolder angler; you will be more likely to fish closer to structure, cast further into banks, and run your nymph rig lower and slower. All of these techniques usually have two things in common, they will catch you more fish, and they will get you tangled or broken off more often. Learning to quickly and properly tie your essential knots will help you catch more fish.
Things to consider:
If you have a bad tangle with multiple flies, consider cutting off just the first or last fly, this may make the untangle much faster and you only have to re-tie one bug.
If you’re having trouble mastering a knot, consider doing so practice on a piece of rope or something with more diameter than your tippet, it will make it easier to solidify the muscle memory…nobody said you couldn’t get proficient at tying knots while sitting on the couch drinking beer.
See you out there,
Minturn Anglers Guide