Published Jan 30. 2024 - 1 month ago
Updated or edited Jan 30. 2024

Get Knotting

Monofilament of many kinds can be used as a fly material as it can be seen in this simple Knot Bug

Green Knot Bug
Green Knot Bug
Nick Thomas

One thing that fly anglers are not usually short of is monofilament. Various diameters of tippet are essential for making leaders and attaching flies. If you fish one of the variety of methods that don’t use a conventional fly line, you’ll no doubt have an even wider selection in different thicknesses and colours for making nymphing leaders and indicators. All of these can be used to make flies as well as fishing them.

Using fishing line to tie flies is not new, Juan Ramirez’s Kryptonite Caddis is probably the most well-known pattern, with its detached body formed from knotted green monofilament. Other patterns including shrimps and pupa use clear monofilament as a rib to secure a shell back or to emphasise the segmentation of a nymph skin body.

Knotted body
Knotted body
Nick Thomas

I use coloured Amnesia monofilament for nymph fishing in the winter. I use 12lb or 15lb black as a level leader with 8lb and 12lb green or red for adding indicator sections on the end. The thinner versions can also be deployed to make very effective flies by knotting the mono directly onto a bare hook. I also use colourless tippet tinted with marker pens to tie bugs in more natural colours.

Tying the body of a Knot Bug is simple, there’s no complex weaving procedure involved, all you need to do is to tie a series of overhand knots around a hook until you have the length of body you want. The only thing you need to pay attention to is to reverse the orientation of the knots as you work up the hook.

Bright fly
Bright fly
Nick Thomas
Green Knot Bug
Pattern type: 
Nick Thomas

A simple knotting technique is used for making a nice, segmented body

Fasna F-120 #12
Get Slotted 3.3mm green tungsten counter hole
12/0 black
Green 12lb Amnesia
Black vicuna dubbing and green SLF
Skill level/difficulty: 
  1. Thread on the tungsten bead.
  2. Set the hook in the vice with the top of the jaws against the hook shank where you want the body to start. Turn the vice to face you.
  3. Cut off a 10inch/25cm length of monofilament, centre it under the hook shank and tie an overhand knot on the top of the hook with the left end passing over the top of the right end.
  4. Rotate the knot so the twisted section is under the shank. Tighten the knot while sliding down the hook so the tightened knot sits against the vice jaws with the twisted part of the knot under the hook and the ends pointing down.
  5. Form a second knot by passing the left end over the right end, tighten the knot around the hook with the twist on top while sliding it down the shank so it seats against the previous knot.
  6. Continue forming left-over-right overhand knots alternating the orientation of the knots with the twists above and then below the hook until you have the desired length of body.
  7. Run on the tying thread behind the eye, wind down to the body and remove the tag end.
  8. Secure the ends of the mono along the sides of the hook with a few tight thread wraps, trim off the waste ends with angled cuts and tie in.
  9. Dub the thorax, smear the thread with varnish and whip finish behind the bead.

The trick to getting a nice even body is to pull the knots tight while using the tension on the ends to slide the tightening knot back along the hook. The aim is to have the knot tighten fully just as it comes up against the previous one, that way there will be no gaps between knots nor bumps where a knot sits over the previous one. Like many techniques a couple of practice runs will set you right, and if you have the odd imperfection the fish won’t mark you down for it.

A variant
A variant
Nick Thomas

When tying with colourless monofilament follow the same knotting procedure and then colour the body with a marker pen before dubbing the thorax.

As a dropper
Nick Thomas
Taff grayling pool
Taff grayling
A grayling pool and a grayling
Nick Thomas

Log in or register to pre-fill name on comments, add videos, user pictures and more.
Read more about why you should register.

Since you got this far …

The GFF money box

… I have a small favor to ask.

Long story short

Support the Global FlyFisher through several different channels, including PayPal.

Long story longer

The Global FlyFisher has been online since the mid-90's and has been free to access for everybody since day one – and will stay free for as long as I run it.
But that doesn't mean that it's free to run.
It costs money to drive a large site like this.

See more details about what you can do to help in this blog post.