Choosing the Best Fishing Knot

Fishing Knots
Beutner Multimdia's instructional knot tying video. Beutner Multimedia

I am continually asked about my favorite knots. Which fishing knot do I use? And the answer is always – it depends. It depends on what kind of line I am using and what the size of that line is. It’s monofilament versus fluorocarbon, versus braid. And it’s heavy, thick line versus very thin line.

Line Size

In general, the smaller the line, the smaller the pound test. That’s true until you get to braided line.
Braided line, size for size with monofilament is about four to five times as strong as a similar diameter monofilament.
  • Light Monofilament
    When I use monofilament lighter than about 15 pound test, I like to use a Palomar knot. It is quick and easy to tie, and it gives you a double line wrap in the eye of the hook. You can learn to easily tie a Palomar knot on our Fishing Knots pages.
  • Medium Monofilament
    Above 15 pound test mono up to about 40 pound test mono I will use either a Palomar or an improved clinch knot. The heavier lie makes a Palomar knot more difficult to tie because of the need to double the line through the eye of the hook. So in some cases, I will switch to the improved clinch knot. It’s important to point out here that I use the improved clinch knot, not the standard one. The standard clinch knot is subject to slippage; the improved version doubles the line through the loop and helps prevent that slippage.
  • Heavy Monofilament
    When I get to monofilament line over 40 pound test, I use the improved clinch knot almost exclusively. The Palomar is impossible to tie with a small hook eye and heavy line, and the improved clinch knot loses very little strength at the knot.

Line Type

Depending on the line type, I will use a different knot – but you will see, the Palomar stays in my sights at all times.
  • Braided Line
    Braided line deserves a separate accounting. Braid slips badly with almost any knot. Some anglers even take a small bottle of super glue and touch their completed knot with it to keep it from slipping. I would rather tie a knot that doesn’t slip and avoid spilling super glue on my fingers! I don’t need a finger stuck to a hook 20 miles from nowhere in a boat!

    I have found that the good old Palomar, tied properly, will hold and not slip, even with braided line. And because the diameter of braid is so small, even at heavier strengths, I can use the Palomar almost all the time.

  • Fluorocarbon
    Fluorocarbon line can be treated like monofilament when tying knots with one exception. It tends to be slightly brittle and it reacts poorly to sharp, quick jerks when tying a knot. I treat it like mono, but I will wet the line at the knot and then pull the knot tight with a slow steady pressure. Once it’s tight, the knot will hold just as well as mono, but the brittle qualities of fluorocarbon still require you to fish it a little differently.
  • Monofilament
    We discussed monofilament above. The vast majority of anglers use monofilament line. Fluorocarbon line gets to be very expensive in larger weight categories, so people like me use monofilament line tied to a fluorocarbon leader.

Line Joining Knots

There are any number of knots used to tie two pieces of line together. When I use braided line I will use some monofilament backing on the reel and tie the braid to it. Filling a reel with braided line is unnecessary and expensive. The mono backing lets me finish filling the reel with a couple hundred yards on braid. To tie these lines together, the old standard is a blood knot. It’s basically a clinch knot on the mono tied to a clinch knot on the braid. It works well mono to mono. It slips terribly mono to braid. So I use an improve clinch on the mono side and a Palomar on the braid side. This stops the slippage and still keeps the knot smaller than a double Palomar.

When I tie a fluorocarbon leader directly to mono without a swivel (which is how I fish the majority of the time), I use a double surgeon’s knot exclusively. It’s quick, easy, strong, and does not slip. If I tie a fluorocarbon leader to braid, which I do a lot, I tie a double Palomar. The braid slips badly on that double surgeon’s knot. The Palomar fixes that.

Bottom Line

I am sure you will find other knots that work for you. And I am sure some of you may not agree with the knots I use. But, I’ve been fishing for over 60 years now – yes 60 – and these knots have served me well. I have books, and DVDs that show and teach hundreds of knots. And, they are fun to watch and read. There are even several web sites that show graphically how to tie each of these hundreds of knots. But I am convinced that if you can find just two or three knots that work in a variety of circumstances, and learn to tie them properly, you will never have a problem.