Basic Flyfishing Knots

Part of fly fishing basics is learning to tie flyfishing knots. Learning the different knots is easy. We will discuss these fishing knots in the order that you will need them when assembling your outfit. It is a good idea to practice these knots at home before you head for the water.

Ready to start loading the line on the reel? OK, first you need to ask yourself which hand you reel with. Most reels can be changed easily from left to right hand (the instructions are included in the box). You will want to get this set before you start. You don’t want to have to remove all the line and reload it.

The line should be winding on the reel such that the line is going to the bottom of the reel when you hold it.

Before you start adding backing to your reel, make sure you know how much to add. Most reel manufacturers have a chart letting you know.

It depends on the fly fishing line you plan on using.

Learn more about fly fishing line.

I would like to thank Ken Evoy and the staff at SBI for giving me the tools to build this site. 

The Arbor Knot

The Arbor knot is used to tie the backing to the reel. Of the different flyfishing knots, this is a very simple knot. It includes a couple of overhand knots with another at the end.

See the Arbor knot tied

The Albright Knot

Since fly lines and the backing line are made of different materials (Dacron to plastic), the Albright knot works best here. This knot can slide through the guides of your rod easier than other knots.

See the Albright knot tied

The Nail Knot

The Nail knot is used to tie the backing to the fly line, and/or the fly line to the leader.

It is more complicated than an Albright knot but there are small tools available today that make it a simple job. This knot also gives you a straight connection between the two lines.

See the Nail knot tied.

The Perfection Knot

Some fly line (and pre-made leaders) will come with loops at the end. This may require you to tie a perfection loop in the other line. The perfection loop makes it easy to change your line or leader.

See the Perfection Loop tied.

The Double Surgeons Knot

The double surgeons knot is used to tie the tippet to the leader. This is important because you may need to change the length or weight of the tippet. This knot is the easiest to tie. You simply tie an overhand knot twice. It is good for connecting two lines of the same diameter.

See the Double Surgeons knot tied.

The Improved Clinch Knot

This is one of several knots used to tie the fly to the tippet. Practice it often.

Of the entire group of flyfishing knots, you will be using it the most.

If you are like me and you are fly fishing a small stream in the woods, you may be tying on new flies often.

See the Improved Clinch knot tied.

A Few Final Thoughts on Flyfishing Knots

  • Moisten all knots before tightening.
  • Tighten your fishing knot slowly, and then test it.
  • Replace fly line, leaders and tippets when they show wear.
  • Take discarded fly line home with you. Don’t discard it on the riverbank.
  • Learn these basic knots till you have them perfected. Then branch out from there.

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