When you first start learning about fly-fishing, it can seem a bit intimidating — especially if you are accustomed to the world of traditional spinning gear. There are literally dozens of knots you can use in different situations or depending on your preferences, but let’s keep it simple and stick with the basics.
Besides, like my friend Joe Mahler (Fly Casting Instructor and Author of Essential Knots & Rigs for Saltwater) says, “The best knot is the one that you can tie quickly and confidently in three-foot waves.” Point being, once you master the knots below, you can always learn a few more and then use your favorites.
Knot that can be used for every type of connection:
Uni Knot and Uni-to-Uni Knot (also known as a Double Uni Knot). If you don’t have much extra time to learn and practice new knots or prefer to keep things really simple, you can actually use the uni-to-uni knot for your fly line connections and the uni for attaching your fly to your leader. The uni-to-uni knot is strong and will easily run through the guides on your rod.
Knot for tying backing to reel:
Arbor Knot. The arbor knot is a good knot to learn since it’s not only useful for tying fly backing to a reel, but for tying any kind of fishing line to the spool of any type of fishing reel.
Knots for tying line to line:
Albright Knot. The Albright Knot is a good knot to use when tying two lines of unequal diameter (such as your backing to your fly line). This knot will slide readily through your guides when tied the right way and when a fish takes out enough line to reach your backing.
Surgeon’s Knot. The Surgeon’s Knot is another good knot to tie when you need to join two lines of differing diameters — such as tying tippet to a leader. This is one of the easiest knots to learn and will allow you to select the proper size tippet given the size of the fly you want to use.
Knot for your fly line-leader connection:
Nail Knot. The nail knot can be used for your fly line-leader connection. It is a bit more complex than other knots because you’ll need to use a nail-knot tool or small tube as an accessory in order to tie it properly.
Knot for tying your fly to your line (also known as a terminal knot):
Non-slip Loop Knot. One of the main goals when using any fly or lure is to obtain as much motion as possible to attract the fish. A knot that is tied right up against your fly or lure is going to restrict motion, but the Non-Slip Loop Knot gives your fly plenty of room to wiggle and shake in the water.
Once you’ve researched and learned how to tie each of these knots, it’s time to practice your fly casts. Find out which casts are best to use in different situations by watching helpful videos on fly casting basics.