Don't Be A Loose Knot: 10 Of The Best Knots For Every Angler (Saltwater and Freshwater)

Posted by Stephen Trull on Jan 31, 2018 4:00:00 PM
Stephen Trull

As a tournament angler, I require the right knot for the right application. The knot can mean success or failure. Quality line is extremely important, but even the best lines get nicked, cut, stretched and wear out. It is important to re-tie regularly to ensure you don’t lose your expensive lures, in-line fishing cameras, or other in-line equipment, and most importantly that fish of a lifetime.

Before I jump in to some fishing tips on what knots to use and when, I have a couple of things you should consider when tying any knot.

  • Moisten your line before pulling to minimize friction and make it easier to get a tight knot.
  • Cinch your knots slowly. This will prevent the knot from getting out of shape or crossing over.  An improperly cinched knot can cause excessive wear and ultimately line failure.
  • Make sure to pull your main line to validate there is no slippage and you have tied your knot properly.

Now, onto my most used knots and why.

Top Freshwater Knots

1. Palomar Knot

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The Palomar Knot is my quick goto knot due to its strength, especially for braid, and is quick to tie when your are power fishing. It comes close to being an 100% knot when tied properly. Be sure that when the hook or lure is passed through the loop that all parts of the knot cinch up together. Many depictions of this knot elsewhere make it look like the loop part of the knot goes up against the bottom of the eye of the hook or lure. The knot can fail if tied in that manner.

This is also the best knot to use with braided fishing line which is the preferred line when using in-line fishing cameras or electronics like a GoFish Cam.

Double 6 inches of line and pass end of loop through eye of hook. Alternately, for small hook eyes, pass end of line through hook eye once, then double back and pass end of line through hook eye again from opposite direction, leaving about six inches of doubled line outside the hook eye.  Tie a loose overhand knot with hook hanging from bottom.  Holding overhand knot between thumb and forefinger, pass loop of line over the hook. Slide loop above eye of hook. Pull on both the standing line and tag end to tighten knot down onto eye. Clip tag end close.

2. Blood Knot

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The Blood Knot is used for joining two lines together. I use it most when tying mono to fluorocarbon. Many times I will use cheaper monofilament line as a backing for fluorocarbon due to the cost or application.

It is a tried and true fishing knot and a favorite of all 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.  Overlap ends of lines to be joined. Twist one around the other making 5 turns. Bring tag end back between the two lines. Repeat with the other end, wrapping in opposite direction the same number of turns. Slowly pull lines in opposite directions. Turns will wrap and gather. Clip ends close to the knot.

3. Fisherman’s Knot

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The fisherman’s knot, also known as the improved clinch knot,  is a very effective way to tie on a lure that is not easily tied with a palomar knot. I use this for tying the lower end of my swivel on my Carolina Rig or leader to my GoFish Cam.

The Improved Clinch is a time-tested and a very popular choice for tying terminal tackle to monofilament line. It is quick and easy to tie and reliable. It can be difficult to tie in lines testing greater than 25 pounds breaking strength. It is not recommended for braided line, so it is an unlikely candidate for attaching to your fishing electronics if using a braided line. 

Thread end of line through eye of hook. Double back making 5 or more turns around standing line.  Bring end of line back through the first loop formed behind the eye then through the big loop.  Wet knot and pull on tag end to tighten down the coils. Slide tight against the eye and clip tag end close.

4. Simple Snell Knot

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The Snell Knot provides a reliable straight-line pull when setting the hook. If you own a GoFish Cam, this is my choice to get the most secure termination to your main line. 

There are several ways to tie this knot and we have found this version to be the easiest and best way. This method is recommended by professional bass fisherman Kevin Hawk of the Elite Series (pro bass tour). Good enough for a guy whose living depends on knots, good enough for us!  Learn at least one of the three methods we show here on Netknots as the Snell Knot is a good knot for all fishermen to have in their arsenal of go-to knots. Run tag end through hook eye toward point of hook, form a small loop and bring tag end behind hook shank. You will want about four inches of tag to work with.  Begin wrapping the tag end around the hook shank and the line working from the point to the eye. Make 5 -7 wraps and then feed tag out through loop, from underside to topside.  While holding wraps in place, pull the tag end to tighten. Make sure wraps are nice and neat on the hook shank and pull both ends very tight. Clip tag end.

5.  Non Slip Loop Knot

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If you are looking for a little more action in your crank baits or swimbaits, the non-slip loop knot is a great choice.

The Non-Slip Mono Loop is also known as the “Kreh Loop” as it has been popularized by fishing legend Lefty Kreh. As its name suggests it forms a non-slip loop at the end of a fishing line. The loop connection to a fly or a lure can give the fly or lure more natural action. Some fishermen find the Kreh Loop easier to tie than the similar Rapala Knot and equally reliable.  Make an overhand knot in the line about 10 inches from the end. Pass the tag end through the hook eye and back through the loop of the overhand knot. Wrap the tag end around the standing part 5 or 6 times. Bring tag end back through overhand knot, entering from same side it exited from before.  Moisten the knot then pull slowly on the tag end to cinch the wraps loosely together. Then pull the loop and the standing line in opposite directions to seat the knot. Trim tag end.

Top Saltwater Knots

1. Albright Knot

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The Albright Knot is one of the most reliable knots for joining lines of greatly unequal diameters of different materials such as monofilament to braided line. Many experienced saltwater fly fishermen, myself included, prefer the Albright to attach their line to leader material, some even going so far as to cut off a factory welded loop to use the Albright! It certainly is the go-to choice knot for tying dacron backing to line for most saltwater fly fishermen.

It is easy to tie and should be in every angler’s knot arsenal.  Make a loop in the heavier line and run about 10” of the lighter line through the loop. Hold the 3 lines between your thumb and index finger. Wrap the light line back over itself and both strands of the loop.  Make 10 tightly wrapped turns. Feed the tag end back through the loop and exit the loop the same side as it entered.  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.

2.  Arbor Knot

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Use the simple Arbor Knot to tie your fishing line to the spool of any type of fishing reel – fly reel, spinning reel or baitcasting reel. The goal here really isn’t in thinking that a knot is going to hold if a fish has taken all the line down to the end your reel spool, but to have something strong enough to hold in the event you lose a rod and reel overboard and have to pull it up by the line. Another knot that can be used to tie a line to a reel is the Uni Knot, but with just one or two wraps instead of the five or six used to tie on a hook.  Wrap your line around the arbor of the spool with the tag end of the line. Then tie a simple overhand knot around the standing part with the tag end. Tie a second overhand knot in the tag end just an inch or two from the first overhand knot. Pull the standing part of the line to slide the first overhand knot down to the spool and the second knot to jam against the first. Trim tag end close.

3.  Uni Knot

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Also known as the Grinner Knot or Duncan Loop the Uni Knot is a good and dependable knot for monofilament to terminal tackle connections. Some anglers find it easier to tie than the Improved Clinch and equally dependable.  Run line through eye of hook and double back parallel to the standing line. Make a loop by laying tag end over the doubled line.  Make 6 turns with the tag end around the double line and through the loop.  Moisten lines and pull tag end to snug up the turns.  Slide knot down to the eye or leave a small loop if desired.

4.  J Knot

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J Knot- My go to knot for Braided Line to Fluorocarbon Leader, especially when time is of the essence. The J Knot is in all probability the strongest leader to tippet knot. It starts out similar to the Surgeon’s Knot but the wraps alternate, which may put less stress on the lines. Field and Stream tested the J Knot to be slightly stronger than the Surgeon’s Knot, Blood Knot and the Double Uni Knot. All are good knots for joining leader to line.  Lay the main line and leader on top of one another overlapping each other by several inches.

NOTE: The animation above shows the leader and line to be the same length as the knot is tied but in reality the line portion is just long enough to tie the knot and the leader is the length of leader you are tying on!  Form a loop by tying a simple overhand knot, pulling entire leader through loop.  Run end of line and entire leader through loop from the backside.  Repeat the process again from the top of the loop entering from the backside of loop to the front and then again repeat from the bottom of the loop.  Moisten lines and pull tight.

5.  Offshore Swivel Knot

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The Offshore Swivel Knot is an exceptionally strong knot to attach a swivel or a hook to a line. If one strand breaks, the other will probably hold. It is often used in conjunction with the Bimini Twist Knot and I use it for trying the upper swivel knot on my Carolina Rig in freshwater and my GoFish Cam for all waters as well. Thread the loop of the double line through the eye of the swivel and make a twist in the loop.  Fold the end of the loop back onto the double line above the swivel.  Hold the loop against the double line and rotate the swivel through the opening 3 to 6 times. Moisten lines and pull tight.

In Conclusion

In most situations, you will only need to know a few knots.  In reality, the day to day fishing only requires two to three types knots.  On other occasions, you need a specific knot to handle the application you are working with.  Learning knot tying can not only be fun, but will ensure your load, hook or GoFish Cam stays on your line when you use the right one for the right application.  Check your knots often and retie with any sign of wear.

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Tags: fishing tips, pro tips, top 10, fishing electronics, fishing camera, underwater fishing camera, fishing line, salt water, angling tips, first time fishing, knots, fishing knots