June 10, 2014 Share

My Favorite Knot (Maybe)

Originally Published on Jan 14, 2012 “From the Dock” NBC Sports

When we launched Knot Wars as part of North American Fisherman back in the 2008 television season, the goal was to identify the best knots for the three most popular types of fishing lines including mono, super lines and fluorocarbons. The segment was an instant hit as viewers found it not only entertaining, but also informative.

I found it sobering. Until we started testing knots in massive numbers I had no idea how little I knew about them…even after a lifetime of angling. What many anglers still struggle with is the realization that not all fishing knots work equally well (or at all) with all three types of lines used today. There are exceptions, of course, but in general very few knots that work well with mono also work well with super lines.

A perfect example is the popular Improved Clinch. The IC is a solid knot with mono. In extensive testing using 14-pound Berkley XT mono, we found the knot consistently broke above 20 pounds, nearly 7 pound greater than what the line was rated. However, when it was used with FireLine, it slipped every time at around 7 pounds of pressure.

We uncovered some other bizarre stuff. The weirdest was a situation that still makes me laugh. One of the testers (a member of the NAF magazine editorial group who will remain nameless) could not tie a knot that even approached the strengths that other were consistently achieving, even when he tied the knots side-be-side others to ensure they were tying them exactly the same. Tester A would consistently tie knots that would break at 19 or 20 pounds, while Tester B would find his knots imploding at just 15 or 16 pounds.

We finally figured out the problem—Tester B. has a medical condition that leaves him with sweaty hands! For some reason, this directly impacted the strength of his knots, even if we left time for the sweat on the line to dry! The solution? Latex gloves! As soon as he donned a pair his test results shot up to level that were consistent with the other testers.


We also learned that you can strengthen most any knot by as much as 20 percent when using mono by simply running the main line through the hook eye twice before tying the knot. Secondly, I found that even knots that slipped when tied with FireLine or some other super line (and many do), that I could strength them by simply adding overhand knot to the tag end before trimming. This would stop most knots from slipping completely. In fact, it would strengthen most enough to fish with!

As one who grew up tying the Improved Clinch, it was nice to see that the knot I used for most of my live was good with mono. But I also learned that there were stronger knots not only with mono, but also braids and fluorocarbon. A knot that is pretty solid with all three types of lines is the Palomar. I also grew to love tying the Eye Crosser Knot. The knot is better than the Improved Clinch with mono and fluoro, stinks with super line, but I love the name and the knot is fun to tie…even when it’s dark out, cold, and you’re wet because a freezing rain is running down the back of your neck.

Is it my favorite knot? Yes and no. I’m still a big fan of other knots like the San Diego Jam, Uni-To-Uni, Nanofil Knot (Double Palomar), and the Double Improved Clinch (incredibly strong with mono).

Let face it, however. Not all of our knot choices are based solely on strength. Traditions often play into it as well. My grand pa taught me the Improves Clinch and every time I tie it I think back to that morning when was 9 when he showed my how to tie. But grandpa never fished with the new generations of lines, which means I still select the knots I use by the lines I am fishing.

By the way, the Knot Wars app with animated tying instructions for 40 of the world’s strongest knots is available free on both iPhone and Android platforms.— Steve