Too many knot guides list a bewildering array of knots, many of which are difficult to tie in laboratory conditions, let alone in a real-world fishing scenario.
We’ve used the lessons learned from years of experience on the water to cut through that complexity and give you a guide to the SEVEN best fishing knots that can be easily tied in any situation.
What makes a good knot?
In our eyes, this is very simple – the best fishing knot for any purpose is one that is simple to tie in any conditions but doesn’t sacrifice strength.
The conditions we encounter while fishing include snow, sleet, wind, comparative darkness and many other hazards that make tying knots a real challenge. And that’s on land – throw in a rocking boat or kayak, or a slippery riverbed when we are wading, and that adds another degree of difficulty.
So the key for us is simplicity. So that’s the approach we’ve taken here in listing our favourite simple knots for each of the key applications we encounter fishing and letting you know how to tie them.
Best knot for joining line to a hook, lure or swivel
The Pitzen knot (snug connection)
This knot is our standout choice for tying on a lure, hook or swivel with a snug connection for both mono and fluoro line. The Pitzen knot (also called the 16-20 knot, or Eugene Bend) has been found to retain 97% of the rated strength of the line. It’s simple to tie (see below for illustrated instructions and video) and importantly it draws up with a little click that you can feel that also serves to verify that it is tied correctly. It works just as well with fluorocarbon as it does with monofilament lines.
The Improved (or non-slip) Loop Knot (loop connection)
Sometimes we want to connect to our lure or fly with a loop to allow enough natural movement to entice a fish. In our view the Non-Slip Loop knot is the simplest and best fishing knot for a loop connection.
It’s also called the Kreh Loop, as it is used by fly fishing legend Lefty Kreh. It can be tied in seconds in any conditions, it’s strong and if it is good enough for Lefty it’s a clear choice for us. Again, this knot is just as good with fluorocarbon as monofilament.
See the below illustration and video for tying instructions.
Best knot for line to line connections in non braided lines
Connecting two sections of mono or fluoro line – the Orvis tippet knot
The clear choice here is the Orvis tippet knot. Developed by the boss of the world-renowned fly fishing tackle company Orvis, this is a super simple knot with unparalleled strength that is easier to tie than the Double Blood knot and far more reliable than the Double Surgeon’s Knot, which breaks down when all four loose ends are not tightened simultaneously.
See the illustration and the video below to learn to tie it.
This is the only situation in which we are going to recommend two different knots – one for simplicity (the Double Uni Knot) and the other for strength (the FG knot) in situations where that is critical.
The Double Uni Knot
This knot retains 90% of the breaking strain of the line used and is dead simple to tied in any fishing situation.
It’s our clear first choice for joining braid to mono or fluoro for 95% of our fishing. As a rough guide use eight turns with the braid line and six or more for the mono/fluoro for lighter tackle scenarios (less turns for heavy mono/fluoro).
See the illustration or the video below for tying instructions.
The FG Knot
For saltwater fishing or fish that can really pull, we’ll switch to the FG Knot if we are tying braid to mono/flouro line. This knot is significantly harder to tie, but rewards you with an almost 100% transfer of strength.
There are all sorts of instructions on tying it, but the method in this video (which is replicated in the written/illustrated instructions here) is the best. The key to tying this knot successfully is using all your limbs to maintain tension on both lines throughout. Again, no issues with using fluorocarbon with this knot.
Other essential knots
The Arbor Knot
Used for tying line on to a reel, this line is simple but good to learn to cover off on this situation and get you fishing quickly when you buy a new reel or spool or change the line on an existing one. The Arbor Knot is suitable for any reel – spinning reel, baitcasting reel or fly reel.
See the illustration or video below for simple instructions.
The Nail Knot
An essential knot for the fly fishers among us, the Nail Knot is used to tie the monofilament leader on to the thick, opaque fly line. While this can be done with braided loops, many fly fishers feel the Nail Knot offers better energy transfer to the leader and makes for better presentations. In any case, it’s one you’ll need to know if your braid connection fails in the field, which does happen. Unlike all the other knots we’ve covered, this one does require an implement as the name suggests – a simple nail or even a stick will suffice.
See the video below for the simplest way to tie a Nail Knot or check these illustrated instructions.
So there you have – the simple guide to the best knots for each fishing situation. Forget fancy knots that are impossible to tie in all but the best conditions. All you need to know to get the most of your fishing, land more and fish with confidence are these seven simple knots.
While these knots are designed to be foolproof and strong, remember to make sure you moisten your knots with saliva before you tighten them to ensure they are lubricated and their strength doesn’t suffer as you draw them up tight.