By Mike Raykovicz
During the month of April, before turkey season opens in May, I fish for trout. At some point in my limited season, it seems almost a given that I catch a trout someone else hooked and lost. I know someone else had the fish at the end of his or her line because of the hook firmly imbedded in the fish’s upper jaw. The line could have broken as the fish was reeled in but, most likely, the fish was lost because the knot used to tie the line came undone.
Knowing how to tie dependable knots is as important a fishing skill as is accurate casting or the ability to read water currents in rivers or streams. To tie effective knots, you don’t have to be a veteran sailor. Just as perfecting certain angling techniques are essential to filling a live-well or stringer, knowing what knot to tie and how to tie it takes practice.
When learning to tie strong, effective knots keep in mind a good knot is not difficult to attain and should be tied in 30 seconds or less. A knot that can be tied in this amount of time is considered a simple knot and just about anyone with the inclination to learn how can tie it.
When learning to tie knots for fishing, keep in mind a good knot should test at least 75 percent of the line’s breaking strength and knots that achieve 95-100 percent of a line’s breaking strength are especially worth learning how to tie.To prevent losing a hefty fish, a good knot becomes even more essential because most monofilament fishing lines lose an average of 15 percent of their stated breaking strength when wet.
Ever since I began to fish, I have used the improved clinch knot to tie on terminal tackle and the blood or barrel knot to join two pieces of monofilament. These knots are relatively easy to learn to tie and if done correctly, are almost as strong as the line itself. Any good book on fishing or directions obtained over the Internet can show you how to properly tie these and other knots and once directions are obtained, it is important to practice tying these knots until you become proficient at them.
When tying knots, twists, spirals and other steps should be kept uniform so that when the knot is pulled tight it is neat and snug. Never pop or snap a knot to tighten it. After a knot is tied, look for knot slippage especially if using the newer braided lines like Gorilla Braid, Spider Wire or Fire Line. These line materials are incredibly strong but, if the knot is not tied properly, the knot can slip, and a big fish can be lost.
A good tip to keep in mind when tying knots in monofilament line, is to be sure to wet the line with saliva and gently pull the knot tight as the last step. The moisture makes the line slip easier and pull tight. Remember, the adage, “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link,” applies to fishing line and knots as well.
One of the most written and talked about knots in the world of fishing is the Bimini Twist. This knot takes practice to tie but it is one of the most used knots by saltwater anglers. This knot can be applied for light tackle trolling in fresh water because it creates a long length of double line that is stronger than a single strand of line. It is the perfect way to attach small plugs, spoons or spinners when trolling for trout or other game fish.
Whichever knot you choose, even a good knot is no guarantee of performance. The knot must be tied carefully and consistently each time. For most practical, everyday fishing situations, I feel the improved clinch knot and the barrel knots are the two knots every fisherman should know how to tie. I find them to be the most effective knots for almost every fishing situation.
Learning to tie effective knots is not hard to do and can make the difference between bringing home a bragging-size fish or just talking about it.