Fly fishing knots

The best knots for your flylines, leaders and tippets

Martin Joergensen

The discussion of knots seems endless. We probably never will know exactly which knot is the best, and the ultimate knot has not yet been tied. I'll list the following knots in a knot table and show how to tie them one by one -- with a little comment attached.

There is some general advise on knot tying, though, because not even the smartest knot will hold, if it's tied in a wrong way.

I basically use four knots:
The Blood knot (above) for knotted leaders
The Surgeons knot for attaching the tippet
The Palomar knot for tight attachment of flies
The Surgeons loop for loose attachment of flies.

Notice that this might not apply to your particular type of¨fishing. I fish salt water with smaller flies (for that kind of fishing) in sizes 2-10 and my tippet is typically 2X or 3X.

  • Always tie the knots excactly as showed in good reliable sources. I believe this is such a source.
  • Pass the lines the same way around each other as shown
  • Use as many twists, passes etc. as shown. The number may vary with line thickness.
  • Always moisten the knot before tightening. Knots tightned dry have down to half the breaking strength.
  • Tighten as described -- mostly with an even firm pull, but sometimes with a jerk or one specific end first
  • Pull tag ends first unless otherwise indicated. The line will often form a 'pig tail' upon passing thorugh the knot. This section is weaker than the unharmed line. It is harmless on the tag which is cut off.
  • Use the knots for their intended purpose
  • When joining lines notice if lines are the same or different diameters. Too big a difference calls for a different knot
  • Choose a few simple, reliable knots that work for you and use them all the time
  • Inspect all knots for looks and test all knots with a firm pull before using
  • Well tied knots do not need any glue
  • Practice tying knots. Well tied knots save time... and fish

Knot illustrations   Improve your fishing skills   Improve your fly tying skills

User comments
From: tim Chiou · thechious·at·  Link
Submitted August 27th 2010

These illustrations make the knot tieing easy for a beginner like me. Thank you for a good job!

From: Mike Brislain · mdbriz·at·  Link
Submitted July 16th 2009

What is the retained breaking strength of a blood knot % wise? Also blood knots tied with floro carbon to regular leader material say Maxima does the % change. Thanks,

GFF staff comment
From: Martin Joergensen · martin·at·  Link
Submitted June 16th 2007


Duh? Not to be smart, but did you try clicking on the knot names?


From: Alex · aandz400·at·  Link
Submitted June 14th 2007


Want to comment this page? Fill out the form below.
Only comments
in English
are accepted!

Comentarios en Ingles
solamente, por favor!

Your name Your email
Anonymize my information. Name and email will not be shown with comment.
Notify me on new comments to this article on the above email-address.
You don't have to comment to start or stop notifications.

All comments will be screened by the GFF staff before publication.
No HTML, images, ads or links, please - we do not publish such comments...
And only English language comments will be published.
Name and email is optional but recommended.
The email will be shown in a disguised form in the final comment to protect you against spam
You can see other public comments on this page