Your fishing equipment and your ability to properly utilize it will always play an important role in your success as an angler. One of the most overlooked aspects of fishing equipment and gear is the many different knots that are used by anglers on freshwater lakes, rivers or even the open ocean.
The knot that connects your fishing hook or lure to your reel is of critical importance and could be the determining factor as to whether or not you’ll land your catch. This article will serve as a guide to identify some of the types of fishing knots that every angler should know, how to tie them and when to use them.
Table of Contents
Improved Clinch Knot
One of my personal favorite types of fishing knots and one that I use on a regular basis for a variety of different lures, rigs and baits is the improved clinch knot. This knot is often referred to as the fisherman’s knot by some angler’s, but it’s more widely recognized as an Improved Clinch Knot based on the technique used to create this useful method of securing your hook.
The improved clinch knot works best with braid or monofilament fishing line, but can also hold up quite well with fluorocarbon, too. I would recommend that every beginner angler start by learning this knot as it’s one of the strongest and most simple types of fishing knots you can use.
Here’s how to tie the improved clinch knot:
- Run the line through the hook’s eye with roughly 6 to 8 inches of line from the end of the eye
- Holding the line in front of and behind the hook eye in place, rotate the line until you have 6 ‘twists’ above the eye
- Run the end of the line through the bottom opening between the eye and the first twist
- Pull the line through and run the end through the loop on top, pulling downward toward the eye
- Pull on both ends of the line in front of and behind the eye to tighten and secure the knot
The improved clinch knot works with just about any type of lure or hook you want to use and will work as a go-to knot when you’re unsure of what type of knot to use with a new lure or hook.
Another handy knot that will work in a variety of different situations is the Palomar knot. This one is also incredibly simple and should be one of the first fishing knots you attempt to learn, or that you teach to a young angler.
The Palomar knot is said to be the best for fishing with braided line and is extremely useful for saltwater anglers or anyone who wants to be able to quickly and easily secure their hook. It’s also probably the quickest knot you can tie if time is of the essence.
Here’s how to tie a Palomar knot:
- Double-up the line until you have about 6 to 8 inches
- Run the doubled up end through the eye until you have around 4 to 6 inches of doubled line through the eye
- Create a simple overhand loop using the doubled-up excess line
- Loop the doubled-up end of the line over the hook and pull down until the knot is secure on the eye
This is arguably the easiest knot you can learn and will work on virtually any type of lure or hook you want to use it on for saltwater and freshwater fishing.
The surgeon’s knot is one of the strongest types of knots you can use and its main purpose is to join two lines together. It was named the surgeon’s knot due to the fact that it was used by surgeons to securely join two threads in a suture before the use of modern methods for stitching.
The surgeon’s knot is great for connecting your main line to a leader line if you don’t have a barrel swivel or other means to connect them. It’s especially useful for anglers who often use different types of line for their main line and leader line.
Here’s how to tie a surgeon’s knot:
- Start by laying your main line and leader line next to each other, overlapping them around 10 inches or so
- Secure the ends of both lines with both hands and form a loop in the middle
- Take the leader line’s end and form a simple overhand knot, running it through the main loop
- Repeat the last step so that the leader line is wrapped around the loop twice
- Dip the knot into water to lessen the stiffness and pull both ends away from one another until the knot is tight
Some anglers will simply trim the excess line, but others often leave several inches and tie a dropper rig on to increase their chances of hooking a fish.
Hangman’s Knot (Uni-Knot)
The hangman’s knot is a standard method of securing your main line to any type of hook or lure you want to use. It works well with any type of line, but is most secure when used with monofilament fishing line. This one is very similar to the improved clinch knot in that it utilizes a system of loops to better tighten the line’s hold on the eye.
Here’s how to tie the hangman’s knot:
- Run the main line through the eye and leave about 10 inches through on the end
- Keeping the main line doubled-up with the excess, create a simple loop using the single strand of excess line
- Use the tag end to wrap the excess line around the doubled-up lines about 6 times
- Pull the excess line’s tag end until the knot tightens on the line, then dip the knot into water
- Secure the hook in one hand and the main line in the other and pull the knot downward and secure it onto the eye of the hook
The hangman’s knot is great for fishing with a heavy line when you’re targeting larger fish. It’s one of the strongest and most secure knots that will work in a variety of situations.
Once you become more advanced in your fishing skills, you’ll want to make use of more specialized knots that will work to your advantage depending on the particular technique you’re using. Professional bass anglers very often make use of the snell knot as it’s ideal for using with a baitcaster reel for flipping or pitching jigs and other types of lures under docks, tree limbs and other types of cover.
The snell knot does a better job of keeping the hook secure and preventing it from rotating as the fish pulls and dives when you’re fighting it. This knot is ideal for braided line and also causes the hook to remain at a secure angle, which will go a long way to ensure that the hook won’t pop out of the fish’s mouth.
Here’s how to tie a snell knot:
- Run the line through the hook, keeping the line next to the hook or parallel to it
- Create a single look with the line next to the hook shank before running the tag end back down through the eye
- Holding the loop and hook in one hand, secure the tag end with the other
- Wrap the tag end around the loop about 5 times, securing it against the hook shank and leaving a small loop at the end
- Be sure to wrap around the loop and shank back towards the eye of the hook instead of towards the hook point
- Run the tag end through the small loop at the end near the hook’s curve
- Pull the tag end downward while using your other hand to pull the main line upward, tightening the hook
Figure 8 Knot
One of the most well-known knots for saltwater and freshwater anglers is the classic figure 8 knot. This one has been used for centuries by anglers fishing with a rod and reel and comes in extremely useful for adding another hook to your rig to use two different types of bait or lures.
I prefer to use a loop knot when fishing with a saltwater rig for snapper or pompano along the shoreline or near shallow reefs. The Figure 8 knot allows you to connect your own choice of leader line, or two different types of leaders to the main line.
Here’s how to tie the Figure 8 knot:
- Double-up your line and pull out enough to create a large loop that’s about 6 to 8 inches across
- Bring the doubled-up end around the line and create a figure 8
- Run the doubled-up end back through the first loop
- Pull on the doubled-up end and on the main line to tighten (you may want to dip this knot into water to help loosen the line)
- Now, you’re ready to tie another line to this loop directly onto the main line
The Figure 8 knot is also useful for connecting your main line to a leader if you don’t have a barrel swivel. Remember that it works best with braided line and is very similar to what anglers call a Bimini Twist.
The Albright knot is generally used to connect fly fishing line to your reel’s backing, but can be used for a variety of other applications such as connecting your main line to a leader line. If you’re interested in fly fishing, this is a knot that you must learn in order to maximize the chances of properly connecting your fly line with backing, which will greatly affect your ability to make a good cast.
Here’s how to tie an Albright knot:
- Start by doubling up your main line, or your backing line until you have roughly 8 inches of doubled-up line
- Pull the leader line through the middle of the backing or main line and leave roughly 10 inches of line hanging over
- Using the leftover tag from the leader line, use this tag to wrap the line around your doubled main line, as well as the strand of leader line
- Wrap the leader line tag around this section of three strands at least 4 or 5 times
- Take the remaining tag end of the leader line and run it through the small loop
- Holding both strands of the backing firmly, pull the leader line’s tag end downward to tighten
- Pull both ends of the leader line, one at a time to fully tighten and secure the Albright knot
You can use your fingers to push the coils down toward the main knot and it might help to dip the lines in water before you fully snug them up and secure the knot.
Some of these knots are more difficult than others and it’s recommended that you practice each one before you attempt them while fishing. It’s best to start out with a moderately-thin rope, which will allow you to get a better visual understanding of exactly where each strand and loop needs to go and where you should tighten the knot.
These 7 types of fishing knots are some of the most useful for anglers and learning how to use them will greatly improve your overall fishing skills.