The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 14 No. 34 - June 18, 2014

reel time

Knots: strengthen the weakest link

Reel time

rusty chinnis | sun
“Fishing Knots,” by Lefty Kreh, is a great source for learning to tie proper knots

Fishing tackle and techniques have never been more technical, but the most important component of the angling experience has never changed. You can have the latest tackle, the most refined technique and great luck and still come up short if you haven’t been careful when tying knots. Learning to tie knots properly may seem a small part of the fishing equation, but it is one of the most critical and overlooked.

You won’t meet many anglers who haven’t lost a great fish to an improperly tied knot. You don’t need to master a lot of knots, but learn the basic ones, tie them correctly and you’ll improve the likelihood of landing that fish you’ve been working so hard entice.

The best place to learn and practice knots isn’t on the water, but at the bench. In a short time, you’ll be able to learn a number of important knots with good instruction, a pair of clippers and some spools of line. A short article isn’t the place to instruct you on how to tie these knots, but hopefully it will help to inspire you to take the time to explore knot tying. Here are some knots that you’ll find useful in rigging for fishing in the Gulf or the bay.

The Bimini twist may take some time to master, but it can be used as a foundation for all saltwater leader systems. The Bimini allows you to double your standing line into a loop, creates 100 percent knot strength and acts as a shock between small line and heavier leader.

An easier knot to tie is the spider hitch, an effective way to double the standing line that doesn’t have the knot strength of the Bimini twist.

The surgeon’s knot is one of the easiest knots to tie, is very effective and can be used to tie your leader (under 60 pounds) to the Bimini twist. This is the knot to use when tying two lines of dissimilar diameters together in the dark. The surgeon’s knot is really just an overhand knot tied with two (treat the double Bimini as one line) strands of line. It is one of the most important knots you can learn. You can use this knot on single strands as well.

One knot that I avoided for years but recently mastered is the blood knot. Preferred by most Keys guides for building leaders, this knot has a slim profile that easily slips through the guides of a rod.

The Albright special is an especially useful knot for the coastal angler. This is the knot to tie when you’re rigging for Spanish mackerel or tarpon. It allows you to tie mono to wire without a swivel and lets you join 20-pound line to a 100-pound leader.

The final step is to tie a hook or lure to the leader. The non-slip mono loop is my choice for several reasons – it’s easy to tie, tests near 100 percent, and forms a loop that gives bait and lures more range of motion. The knot has a couple of other advantages – it won’t tighten when a fish is hooked, and the tag end comes out facing away from the standing line which keeps it from picking up weeds or other debris.

There are a few rules that will help you tie reliable knots no matter which ones you choose to use. First, make sure you give yourself plenty of line to make the knot. You use less line in the long run and learning will be a lot less frustrating. You can master the most complicated knots, but if you don’t tie them properly, they all have a high probability of failing.

There are two critical components of any knot. First they must be wet when they are tightened, and second, they must be tightened carefully so there is no chance of them slipping. Knots break when they slip. I use an eye bolt attached to my bench and a small eye hook on my boat console to hold the hook, wet the knot and tighten it with a pair of pliers. Follow these rules, tie the knots that work for you and you’ll strengthen the weakest link in your fishing experience.

“Fishing Knots,” by Lefty Kre is one of the best I’ve seen on the market. It’s spiral bound so it easily stays open to the page you’re studying, and no one I’ve met has the wealth of experience of Kreh.

As a bonus there’s a one hour DVD included where you can follow Lefty tying all the most important knots. The movie is peppered with invaluable tips online, leader and knot tying. You can order the book by going to

Learn a few of the basic knots, tie them correctly, and you’ll add a whole new dimension to your angling experience.

AMISUN ~ The Island's Award-Winning Newspaper