Knots to Know

APRIL 2019


Knots. Many are challenging to learn, let alone remember how to tie. Tying some knots takes time, too much of it, when you’d rather be fishing. In this day of instant gratification, you won’t find a packaged, ready-to-use Improved Clinch Knot at Bass Pro Shops or Cabela’s. Too bad!

The good news is the inventors of the knots you need to know had the same goal in mind—creating knots that are ideal for any given fishing situation. And remember, a well-tied knot is the most important connection between the hook and the prize itself.

Nautical knots—same thing. Myriad choices are available, but do you really need to know them all? No! Many nautical knots were more necessity than matter of convenience and safety like those of today. Like fishing knots, the nautical versions are designed for specific applications.

Here is a nifty how-to library of the knots you need to know, complete with easy-to-follow illustrations and step-by-step instructions. 


BEST FOR: Joining braids to leaders or lures. The Palomar came along years before today’s ever-popular superlines, also making it a good all-around choice for fluorocarbons and monofilaments. It’s quick to tie and with premium line retains 100% of its original strength.

How to tie it:

STEP 1: Double 6 inches of line and pass end of loop through eye of hook.

STEP 2: Tie a loose overhand knot with hook hanging from bottom.

STEP 3: Holding overhand knot between thumb and forefinger, pass loop of line over the hook. Slide loop above eye of hook.

STEP 4: Pull on both the standing line and tag end to tighten knot down onto eye. Clip tag end close.



BEST FOR: The Improved Clinch is a time-tested and a very popular choice for tying terminal tackle—including lures—to monofilament line. It is quick and easy to tie. It can be difficult to tie in monofilament and fluorocarbon lines testing greater than 25 pounds breaking strength. It is not recommended for braided line.

How to tie it:

STEP 1: Thread end of line through eye of hook. Double back making 5 or more turns around standing line.

STEP 2: Bring end of line back through the first loop formed behind the eye then through the big loop.

STEP 3: Wet knot and pull on tag end to tighten down the coils. Slide tight against the eye and clip tag end close.


BEST FOR: When you need to quickly re-tie hooks and baits in the heat of the action. This knot is used by anglers in salt- and freshwater for joining lines of similar or different strengths. It works well, and some find it easier to tie than the Blood Knot.    

How to tie it:

STEP 1: Overlap the ends of lines to be joined. Take the end of the line from the left and double back and make 3 to 4 wraps around both lines and through the loop that was formed. Pull tag end to tighten. (Note: When tying mono to braided line, make 5 turns with the mono and 8 turns with the braid.)

STEP 2: Repeat with the end of the line on the left making the same number of wraps unless tying with braided line in which you should double the number of wraps.

STEP 3: You have now tied two Uni knots. Pull the standing lines in opposite direction to slide the two knots together.

STEP 4: Clip ends close to the knot.



BEST FOR: When you need to quickly re-tie hooks and baits in the heat of the action. This knot is used by anglers in salt- and freshwater for joining lines of similar or different strengths. It works well, and some find it easier to tie than the Blood Knot.    

How to tie it:

STEP 1:  Double the end of the line and tie a loose overhand knot.

STEP 2: Pass end of loop through the knot again.

STEP 3: Hold the standing line and tag end and pull the loop to tighten the knot. Clip tag end close.



BEST FOR: Joining two lines together, the Blood Knot is a tried and true fishing knot and a favorite of fly anglers. The strength of the knot is increased by making at least 5, and up to 7, wraps on each side of the knot. It works best with lines of approximately equal diameter.

How to tie it:

STEP 1: Overlap ends of lines to be joined. Twist one around the other making 5 turns. Bring tag end back between the two lines.

STEP 2: Repeat with the other end of the line, wrapping in opposite direction the same number of turns.

STEP 3: Slowly pull lines in opposite directions. Turns will wrap and gather. Clip ends close to the knot.

BEST FOR: Attaching additional flies, baits or jigs to a single fishing line. If the loop is tied particularly large, one side of the loop can be cut where it exits the knot, leaving a single strand line upon which baits can be tied directly. Created for bottom fishing, this is your knot for making the ever-popular drop shot rig used in bass fishing.    

How to tie it:

STEP 1: Form a loop in the line at the desired location. Pass line from one side of loop through and around that side of loop. Make 5-plus wraps and keep new loop, which is formed, open.

STEP 2: Push bottom of original loop up through new opening and hold with teeth. Wet knot with saliva and pull both ends in opposite directions.

STEP 3: Pull ends of line evenly until coils tighten and loop stands out from line.



BEST FOR: Joining lines of greatly unequal diameters or different materials, such as monofilament to braids. It is easy to tie and should be in every angler’s knot arsenal. The Albright is well suited to slide readily through the guides when a fish pulls out enough line to reach your backing. Some anglers coat the knot with a rubber-based cement to make it even smoother and more secure.  

How to tie it:

STEP 1: Make a loop in the heavier line and run about 10 inches of the lighter line through the loop.

STEP 2: Hold the 3 lines between your thumb and index finger behind the loop. Wrap the light line back over itself and both strands of the loop.

STEP 3: Make 10 tightly wrapped turns. Feed the tag end back through the loop and exit the loop the same side as it entered.

STEP 4: Hold both ends of the heavy line and slide the wraps to the end of the loop. Pull the light line to tighten and clip tag end close to the knot.



BEST FOR: Heavy cover bass fishing when a solid hookset is a must. There is no knot above the eye of the hook, which can help eliminate any grass or debris catching, as a knot above the eye can do. 

How to tie it:

STEP 1: Thread 6 inches of line through the eye of the hook.

STEP 2: Hold the line against the hook's shank and form a Uni-Knot circle.

STEP 3: Make five (5) to seven (7) turns through the loop and around the standing line and hook's shank.

STEP 4: Tighten by pulling the standing line in one direction and the tag end in the other.




BEST FOR: Any nautical need. One of the most useful boating rope knots you can know. The Bowline knot forms a secure loop that will not jam and is easy to tie and untie. The Bowline is most commonly used for forming a fixed loop, large or small at the end of a line. Tried and tested over centuries, this knot is reliable, strong and stable. Even after severe tension is applied it is easy to untie. It is said to retain 60 percent of the strength of the line in which it is tied.    

How to tie it:

STEP 1: Lay the rope across your left hand with the free end hanging down. Form a small loop in the line in your hand.

STEP 2: Bring the free end up to and pass through the eye from the under side (the rabbit comes out of the hole).

STEP 3: Wrap the line around the standing line and back down through the loop (around the tree and back down the hole).

STEP 4: Tighten the knot by pulling on free end while holding standing line.


BEST FOR: Quickly securing the boat to the dock. It is a quick and easy method of tying a rope to a cleat on a dock or boat that is also easy to untie. Learn the Cleat Hitch if you own a boat or even if you don’t so you can help a short-handed skipper. This knot ties and unties quickly and neatly.     

How to tie it:

STEP 1: Take a turn around the base of the cleat, and then bring the line over the top of the cleat.

STEP 2: Wrap the line back under the arm of the cleat opposite the first turn, then back over the top of the cleat.

STEP 3: Wrap under the first arm a 2nd time and then back over the top of the cleat. You have now made a figure eight pattern over and around the cleat. Now form an under hand loop and slip that loop over the arm of the cleat, which pins the free end under the last wrap.

STEP 4: Pull the free end tight and you have the neat, tidy and secure Cleat Hitch.


BEST FOR: For tying to pilings or temporary docking. A simple all-purpose hitch that is easy to tie and untie. As a hitch, it should be used with caution. The knot can slip or come undone if the object it is tied to rotates or if constant pressure is not maintained on the line.    

How to tie it:

STEP 1: Wrap the free end of a rope around a post.

STEP 2: Crossover itself and around the post again.

STEP 3: Slip working end under last wrap.

STEP 4: Pull tight.



BEST FOR: Securing non-critical items. Not to be trusted to join two ropes together. This knot was used for centuries by sailors for reefing sails, hence the original name Reef Knot, and for tying things aboard ship. It is important that this knot not be used as a bend (for tying two ropes together). Be sure to form the square knot and avoid tying a granny knot by making sure that both parts of the rope, the standing line and the free end, exit the knot together.  

How to tie it:

STEP 1: Tie two over hand knots. First, right over left and twist. Then left over right and twist.

STEP 2: Make sure both parts of the rope exit the knot together!



BEST FOR: When you need a strong, worry-free knot for overnight mooring. This no-slip knot forms a secure, non-slip loop at the end of a rope. 

How to tie it:

STEP 1: Tie a single eight in the rope two feet from its end. Pass the free end through any tie-in point if desired.

STEP 2: Retrace the original eight with the free end leaving a loop at the bottom of the desired size.



STEP 3: Pull all four strands of rope to cinch down the knot.




BEST FOR: Tying two ropes together, even when rope sizes and materials differ greatly. It is suitable for most non-critical applications. It is important that the tag (free) ends of both ropes of the sheet bend be on the same side of the finished knot.    


How to tie it:

STEP 1: Form a loop in the end of one rope. Pass the free end of the rope to be joined under the opening of the loop, around both parts of the first rope and back under itself.

STEP 2: Pull all four ends to tighten.



STEP 3: Two wraps around both parts of the first rope make a Doubled Sheet Bend.




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