It's Better to be Knotty Than Nice
As the first major snowstorm of the season departs the Southeast, many anglers have officially shifted gears to their “Winter” program. Sure, many of us still fish, but quite a few of us shift our focus to hunting or preparing for next season. Winter is a great time to refill our fly boxes and prepare for warmer days without the fear of missing out.
Spend a little time practicing your knots, and, come Spring, you will spend more time fishing and less time fiddling with your rig. Focus on quality and not quantity. Learn to tie a few knots well. When you practice your knots, consider using two different colors of old fly line or backing. The contrast will make it easier for you to see how the knot is put together and check your work when you are done.
Keeping things simple, I break knots down into three categories: Fly Line to Leader, Leader to Tippet and Tippet to Fly.
Fly Line to Leader (Perfection Loop)
Almost every fly line on the market has a welded loop on the end, and almost every commercially tapered leader has a perfection loop in its butt section. Simply slip the leader’s perfection loop over the tip of the fly line and pull the leader’s tippet through the welded loop at the end of the fly line. The resulting knot will resemble a square knot.
If you build your own leaders, simply tie a perfection loop at the butt end of the leader that attaches to the fly line. While many folks use a blood knot to connect subsequent leader sections, I find the double uni-knot easier to tie (especially when I am wearing gloves).
Leader to Tippet (Double or Triple Surgeon’s Knot)
To extend the life of your leader, simply add a foot to a foot and a half of the same size tippet (e.g., 5x to 5x) to the end of your leader with a Surgeon’s Knot. As you change flies throughout the day, your added tippet will get shorter and shorter. When it gets too short, simply cut it off and replace it with another foot to foot and a half long section. This will keep you from potentially having to rebuild the taper of your leader, and the Surgeon’s Knot is a handy stopper for split shot on your rig.
Tippet to Fly (Eugene Bend Knot)
I originally learned to tie the Eugene Bend knot when I started using Frog Hair fluorocarbon. When tied correctly, the tag end noticeably “pops” into place, and there is little to no loss in tippet strength. If the knot doesn’t “pop”, you immediately know you need to re-tie it. No pigtails, no missing fish! It is a great cold weather knot, because you don’t have to take your gloves or mittens off. Simply use your forceps to wrap the loop around the standing line and pull the tag through the loop. As a matter of fact, I tie the Eugene Bend knot with my forceps all of the time!
There is nothing magical about my knot selections. I have simply practiced them until tying them is second nature. Spend a little time finding, and practicing, your favorite knots this Winter. It will pay dividends in the Spring!