Knot Wars

Knot Wars!

I’ve been thinking a lot about knots lately. Haven’t you? For years, I have been teaching our fly fishing class that the “improved clinch knot” is an excellent knot to use for tying your fly to your tippet.  It’s easy to tie and most of us learned it a long time ago when we were kids. I have even seen some “tests” that have stated that the improved clinch knot is stronger than most people think (considering there are 100s of knots out there).  BUT something got me thinking about knots, knot tests, and who uses what knots when.

While attending Colorado guide, Landon Mayer’s seminar at Feather Craft Fly Shop a few weeks ago, I discovered that he uses just the “regular or unimproved” clinch knot when he fishes. He says it is stronger than the improved clinch knot. How can that be? It’s not “improved”!! But since Landon is one of the top guides in the United States AND always catches BIG fish, it got me thinking and reading – about knots.

There are a lot of factors to consider when tying and using certain knots. There are many variables that go into determining which knot is “best” for a given fly-fishing situation. Here are just a few of them:

  1. The kind of fly.
  2. The thickness of the wire in the hook eye.
  3. The diameter of the tippet material.
  4. The kind of tippet material (mono, fluorocarbon, etc.).
  5. The kind of action you want on the fly.

With that said, the knot tests you read about just can’t cover all situations. So, I decided to do some investigating myself. I noticed that when using small diameter tippet (5x or 6x) my “improved clinch knot” has broken off from time to time. I could tell by the little curly cue at the end of the line (knot coming undone). Was it me tying a bad knot or was it something else. If Landon uses the regular clinch knot and gets big fish on small tippet then there must be something to it. With small diameter tippet, does putting more bends in the line during knot tying (when going through the second hole on an improved clinch knot) weaken the line.  I decided to use only the clinch knot on our final day at Lake Taneycomo this past week, and to my surprise I didn’t have one break off and I was catching bigger fish on that day. Maybe there is something to the clinch knot with small tippet.  With larger diameter mono line (2x or 3x tippet or spinning gear line) then the improved clinch knot may be the best (or the palomar knot, etc…).

I know there are other “fly fishing” knots out there – Davy knot, improved Davy knot, Orvis knot – but for now I will be fishing more with just the “regular or unimproved” clinch knot when using 4x, 5x or 6x tippet. I will do my own field test and get back to you with the results. But just remember, the best knot is the one that is tied well and correctly (and don’t forget to spit on it!).

So, what do you say???

Kenny Klimes

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