Recently, RIO Products began releasing a series of great videos showing a variety of different knots and how to tie them. I have had the good fortune to be a member of RIO’s Advisory Team and these videos prompted me to gather my favorite knots together in one location, including embedding RIO’s videos as a visual guide.
Remember, the best place to practice your knot tying skills, like fly casting, is off the water. Be wary of trying a new knot until you are proficient with it and can tie it quickly and correctly every time. If you aren't a proficient knot tyer you are likely to avoid making changes to your leader, tippet or fly due to a lack of confidence tying a particular knot. A tactic that could reduce your on the water experience.
Listed below are my favorite knots and the situations I prefer to use them in. Hopefully you find my knot selection a helpful guide for your particular fly fishing experiences and situations.
Non Slip Loop Knot
This is my go to knot when attaching flies to tippet or to a dropper. I use this knot in almost all situations, lakes, rivers or the ocean. This is a strong knot that provides maximum motion to your fly. This motion, I believe, is a key fish trigger.
Improved Clinch Knot
When integrating swivels into my leader the improved clinch is the knot of choice. I also use this knot to attach a leader or butt section to a welded loop. Attaching your leader or butt section in this manner helps facilitate simple, without incident, on the water line changes. Stringing a rod while seated in boat or pontoon body is tricky at best and at worst can be fatal. Simply real the line and leader connection in so it is between the reel and first stripping guide. Using a wooden clothes peg, pinch the leader to the stripping guide so it doesn’t slide out the guides. Cut the leader from the welded loop. Change your line by switching the reel or spool. Reattach the leader to the welded loop of the new line using an improved clinch knot. Make a few false casts to feed the line through the guides and your line swap is complete.
Triple Surgeon Knot
The triple surgeon knot is the only knot I use when attaching tippet sections together or attaching tippet to a leader. The triple surgeons knot is strong and has a low horizontal profile that passes through the guides easily when I am fighting a fish on a particularly long leader. The other benefit of the triple surgeon’s knot is its durability when joining stiffer fluorocarbon to softer nylon tippet or leader material. Once connected the triple surgeons knot has an extremely low failure rate. If a triple surgeons knot does fail it is typically due to a bad knot or stale nylon tippet. Fluorocarbon lasts forever.
When tying larger diameter materials together such as separate butt section to an existing tapered leader the blood knot is my go to knot. The butt section would be attached to the welded loop of the fly line using an improved clinch knot. I would then attach a standard tapered leader to the butt section using the blood knot. This is the process I use when I make long, 25’ or greater leaders, which I do on occasion, when fishing chironomid pupa in deep clear water using the “naked technique”. Like the triple surgeons knot, a blood knot is strong and offers a low profile which passes easily through the guides. In practical terms I find the blood knot easier to tie with thick material verses the triple surgeons knot which I find an easier knot to tie with thinner smaller diameter material, 0X or smaller.
Once mastered, the perfection loop it is easy to tie, strong and offers a neat slim profile. I use this knot when setting up a sliding dropper. Simply tie a perfection loop in one end of a 8-inch section of tippet. Lay the tippet section under the leader above a stopper on the fly line side. The stopper can be a triple surgeons knot or small barrel swivel. Pass the tag end of the dropper through the perfection loop and pull tight to lock the dropper section around the leader. This dropper method allows the dropper to move around the leader when casting which reduces tangles, allows for easy fly changes and perhaps most importantly each fly in your dropper system works in its own water free from the effects of other flies in the system.