Knots, Knots and More Knots!
Knots are one of the most important variables when it comes to fly fishing ask anyone. When I first started this sport of ours some 18 years ago, I hadn't a clue about what knots to tie on my fly, let alone knots to my leader. I remember a buddy who helped me along during my days at Yellowstone always said, "I think you might need to add more tippet and tie on another section, that 4 feet leader aint going to cut it" I just looked and said do you mind?
Over the years I've gotten much better despite a few bruisers that get me scratching my head every year after a break off going, what the heck was I thinking tying that crappy knot! When it comes to Saltwater and all the knots used it is a learning process somewhat. Yes, I can tie up leaders for most targeted species I go after, but when in doubt I'm not too bashful about asking my Salt guide to double check my boy scout square knots to make sure they'll work. I've learned my lesson over the years from fishing that no matter how well you think you tied it, you better double check...better safe than sorry and why chance it!
Everyone it seems to have a favorite knot, whether to their backing, fly line-leader, tippet sections or to the fly, that will always vary. If you get around 5 Saltwater guides get ready for a real debate about what they use as well. When building Salt leaders and involving shock leader sections, everyone I've heard has a very different opinion, all staying consistent to the norm for leaders and all work accordingly, it just depends on each person. Just like when I go out I have my system and my fishing pals have their own.
There are a range of fly fishing knots available to use for every purpose. Some knots are very easy to learn and some are very complicated, so if you're a beginner you don't need the more difficult ones. Basically, there is an easy knot available for just about any fly fishing application: reel to your backing, backing to your line, line to your leader, leader to your tippet, and tippet to fly. Most of the easier fly fishing knots still retain more than 90% of line strength, provided they are tied accordingly and moistened with water or saliva before the final tightening. Practice your knots over and over until you can do them with your eyes closed. Sometimes you will need to tie them in the dark. When you start reeling in big heavy fighting fish, you can start practicing the more complicated knots. In my opinion, the fewer knots you have to use, the better.
For your own opinion, take a look below and see what you think, I'm sure you'll find a few to try out on your next day out on the water!
Link to Books on Fly Fishing Knots, whether freshwater or Saltwater
Flyfishing Knots - Basic Advice on Tying Knots
Bimini Twist Video - Learn a Saltwater Bimini Twist in Minutes
Fishing Knots - A series of clearly illustrated knots for fly fishing
Video Fishing Knots - A collection of video clips on how to tie fishing knots, grouped by knot name and category
Fly Fishing Knots - Covers the basics for rigging up and tying fly fishing knots
Fishing Knots - Provides instructions for tying illustrated and described