Equipment failure and human error are the two main causes of major frustration in the sport of angling. What with the warp speed of technology advancement of equipment and the mountain of information available, when it comes to hooks, swivels, knots, and terminal gear, it’s a foregone conclusion something is going to go wrong, and it generally does.
There are dozens of knots and connections being used by anglers today. Some are great, some are good, and a lot not so good. Some work for certain applications and don’t work for others. Some are easy to tie, and others are a bear. But just about all knots, if not tied correctly, will end up a failure. I’m somewhat of a knot freak, as I love to learn new knots and consistently test their strength and consistency. And though I can readily tie dozens of knots, I find myself reverting back to a few very simple tried and true connections.
A couple of things that need to be taken into consideration is dividing your line classes from small/medium and heavy. Some knots will work extremely well in the lighter lines but not so well on the heavy. And when it does come to heavy lines, my experience has lent me towards crimping as opposed to typing knots.
For lighter lines, I like to use the tried and true Palomar knot, as it is very quick and also very reliable. Two things to watch out for with this particular knot — always make sure that the double loops of line passing through the eye of the hook are lying parallel to each other and not crossing, as this will cause failure with a very small amount of pressure. Also, never tie a Palomar knot in a double line with the loop cinching down against the two main lines, as this will continue to tighten under pressure and the loop will eventually cut through both main lines.
One of my favorite light to medium tackle knots (up to 80-pound) is the Uni knot. This is very quick and very simple to tie. If you continue to practice using fresh line you should not see any failures in this knot whatsoever.
Improved Clinch Knot
An alternative to the offshore knot when using monofilament lines of 50-pound test or less is the double improved clinch knot. Tests by the crew of DuPont’s Stren testing laboratory indicate the double improved clinch is superior to the offshhore knot in monofilament lines from 20- to 50-pound test and at least as good when used with 80-pound test line. Heavier 130-pound test mono is too stiff to allow the knot to be tied effectively.
DuPont’s tests have shown the Improved Clinch Knot to provide 90 to 98 percent of the breaking strength of the line depending on how carefully it is tied. Since the double line is already twice the strength of the main fishing line, no real loss of strength is apparent.
1. Push the double line loop through the eye of the swivel and back over the standing line for about 18 inches.
2. With the thumb and forefinger of the right hand pinching the loop at the eye of the swivel, make five turns of the tag end around the standing line.
3. Pass the tag end through the small loop between the swivel eye, and the wraps and then through the loop formed over the wraps.
4. Wet the knot and carefully draw down until tight. Clip off the tag end.
Another simple knot to tie, either in a straight line or doubling over and creating a double line is the improved Clinch knot. This is also a superb knot to use to attach a swivel to the main line when trolling. Once again, make sure that the loops created through the eye of the hook or the swivel ring are not crossed or you will be doomed. A couple of additional exotic connnections that are a little more tedious to tie but offer supreme holding power are the Braid Ring Knot and the San Diego Knot.
LINE TO LEADER CONNECTIONS
The use of short lengths of leader tied to a main line is an added advantage to the fisherman. This is especially so for the line-shy bluefin tuna where heavier lines will make it difficult to attract strikes from these wary fish. Hooking them directly on to lighter line generally ends up with line breakage due to the extended time of the battle. However, over the past couple of years, I have found that by attaching a short length of slightly heavier leader to the main line has helped land these larger fish and interestingly enough has not lessened the numbers of fish attracted to the bait. And with increasing popularity of the fluorocarbon materials, this is a system that all anglers should learn.
Two excellent line-to-leader connections are the Opposed Nail knot which, with a little practice, is relatively easy to tie and is also very strong. This knot can be tied with lines with opposing strengths as wide as 30- to 60-pound line. It also goes through the guides very easily. Another one is the Improved Blood Knot. This is tied by first typing a Bimini twist or a braid double line and the main lines and then securing to the leader by a way of a blood knot. Another one to practice would also be a Surgeon’s knot.
One of my favorite line-to-leaders including single strand wire is the Albright knot. I’ve used this very successfully over the years for fishing wahoo. When these fish get wire shy, I have found that by changing from a longer cable leader to a short single strand wire leader makes for a better bait presentation and definitely attracts more strikes. By using a 30-pound to 40-pound test single strand wire, attach a small 2/0 / 4/0 118 Laser Mag hook or 94150 with a Haywire Twist and Barrel Wrap connection, this leader need only be 8- to 10-inches long and connect to the main line with an Improved Albright Knot. This knot is also good for attaching main line to mono leaders. This is a knot I do not use for spectra mono-filament connections. The reason being that the Spectra diameter is so thin that when the wraps around the mono-filament to create the knot are pulled down tight, they do not put pressure on the encased Spectra line unlike the same procedure if you were using mono-filament and/or wire.
When it comes to double lines I have two favorites, a Bimini Twist and a Braided Plait Knot. The Bimini si great for tying short double lines and line strengths up to 80-pounds. there is no reason you can’t tie it in heavier line, it’s just that it gets a little tight going through and roller guides. For lines 100-pound and 130-pound, I go to the Braided Plait Knot. This is not only 25 percent smaller in diameter that the Bimini Twist, but with a little practice it can be tied in any size line and it can be used to create a double line of any length whatsoever and no additional assistance is required.
Got a little nick in that spectra? Don’t throw it away. There is a simple and very reliable connection you can use to repair that damaged spot or add additional line. By creating a 35/40 wrap Bimini Twist in each end of the Spectra line and then proceed to weave a series of Cat’s Paw Loops, these two lines can be connected to give a very high knot retention strength. Another tip in tying a Bimini Twist in Spectra lines, before the final wraps are made over the twist, add a couple of drops of pliobond adhesive. This will virtually eliminate any slippage in the Spectra which always produces failure. This same connection is the perfect solution for connecting Spectra lien to mono-filament Top Shots. However, when connecting pectra to mono in this fashion, only 4 or 5 loops are generally necessary. I have personally used that connection for more than 4 years and to this day have never had a failure.
Of all the big fish counts that have been produced over the past 10 or so years, probably the least known fact is that at least half that amount again have been lost at or near color. But in the last year-and-half, after testing and using the new wind-on leader system, anglers have reduced this lose percentage down to zero.
As opposed to the short three-foot leaders we have used in the past for giant tuna, going to the new Braid Wind-One Leaders (25-foot length), connected to the main line via a Triple Loop to Loop to a 10-foot Binimi Twist double line, this application allows the angler to actually double the lines strength after one wrap of the double lines comes onto the reel. At this point that angler can increase the drag lever to full pressure and in most cases this is all that is required to finish the fish off. Even if the line happens to rub against the side of the boat, there is little chance of failure as the leader material is generally 150-pound or greater breaking strength.
These few knots and connections that I have explained are what I have used successfully over the years and though there may be many others that anglers have tried and used equally as successful, the variations explained here should get you through most situations in your angling adventures.