Avid outdoorsmen need to learn and practice several traits, talents, tactics, and techniques to successfully enjoy their favorite pastime.
Avid outdoorsmen need to learn and practice several traits, talents, tactics, and techniques to successfully enjoy their favorite pastime. Understanding how, when and where to tie certain knots is one prime requisite often skimmed over.
Every fisherman needs knots; waterfowl hunters rigging decoys for stream, and ocean need knots; boaters Â need knots and even hunters building blinds or dragging and handling game animals need knots.
The right knot will improve success, ease tasks and perhaps assure safety. If a group of random people were asked to name and demonstrate five authentic knots, itâ€™s unlikely half of them would succeed. If the request was increased to 10 knots the odds of success drop to 25 percent or less. Itâ€™s a skill that takes a bit of research and then some practice to keep current.
Since actual use of most knots takes place during warm weather months, bleak winter nights or weekends offer a perfect time to learn a new one and keep your mind and hands nimble practicing some youâ€™ve already learned. Unlike the old days when a relative, friend, scoutmaster or mentor had to teach you a specific knot by hand, now the skill is easily researched and demonstrated via any number of internet sources. There are several very useful knots everyone should know, especially outdoor-oriented men and women. Check them out and learn to tie and use each.
Fly fishermen need no fewer than four different knots to attach lines, backing and leaders from the reel spool to the fly. Shoddy knot tying technique or the wrong knot can lead to not only the loss of a fish and a fly, but sometimes the entire line, leaders and backing. Step one is to attach backing material or monofilament to the reel spool arbor with a self-tightening, non-slip loop called a backing knot that simply consists of two overhand knots.
Pass the line through the line guard, or under the bail when putting monofilament on a spinning reel, then around the arbor and pull out 8-10 inches to form a tag end. Using the tag end, tie a loose overhand knot around the outgoing portion of the backing and another overhand knot near the tip of the tag end, then tighten and trim this last knot. Now pull slowly and firmly on the outgoing length of line causing the first knot to tighten and slide, forming a sliding loop around the spool arbor until the tag-end knot pulls tight against the first overhand knot and prevents any further line movement. The leader or line will generally break before this backing-to-reel knot lets go.
To connect two lines of different sizes, say backing line to a fly line, level running line to lead core, or even heavy leader to a fly line, a nail knot is the way to go. Also known as a tube knot, this set of interlocking loops is strong, getting tighter as more pressure is applied, yet compact and smooth enough to easily slide through rod guides without snagging. Nail knot proficiency requires a bit of practice, but there are a couple of small tools available at most fly shops to simplify and quicken the task. A surgeons knot may also be used to connect line-to-line or even leader to leader, but while strong, as well as simple, and quick to tie, the resulting knot is more bulky.
A surgeonâ€™s loop (not to be confused with a surgeonâ€™s knot) may also be used to connect a heavy butt section of leader or backing material to a fly line. While this loop is simple to tie and very sturdy, I still prefer to spend the extra time and effort to construct a neat, compact needle knot. When connecting various sizes and lengths of leader material, especially for long, tapered multi-section leaders, only the blood knot will do. For anglers who occasionally use two flies, say a wet fly and nymph combo, thereâ€™s even a simple technique to tie a blood knot with a dropper line. Â
Finally, we come to the terminal end of the tackle, where fly, bait hook, line or plug is attached to leader tippet or monofilament line. Knots for this connection must be quick and easy to tie since it will be used many times on each outing. This knot must be tough also, since it endures the greatest direct pressure when playing a fish and takes repetitive duress from casting as well as bouncing and catching on underwater obstacles.
Fly casters should use the improved clinch knot, also referred to as Duncanâ€™s loop. This is a stronger, more versatile version of the â€śfishermanâ€™s knotâ€ť most of us learned years ago. When using flies with up-turned eyes, very common to Atlantic salmon patterns, veteran anglers prefer a turle knot for a firm attachment and proper fly position in the water as it swings in the current.
Named after Berkleyâ€™s Trilene monofilament, the Trilene knot is the perfect choice for tying on bait hooks, plugs and lures, especially when using 4- to 14-pound monofilament or with 4- to 20-pound test fluorocarbon. More dependable than the widely used clinch knot, when properly tied the Trilene knot test at almost 100 percent of line strength. Simply insert 4- to 6-inches of line through the hook eye, swivel or split ring, then reinsert the mono through the eye again forming a small double loop. Hold this double loop open and steady between the thumb and the index finger of the off hand (left for most folks), then using the master hand, take five turns around the standing line with the tag end. Now insert the tag end through the double loop, moisten with saliva and pull the standing line slow and steady to tighten the knot.
My personal favorite knot for attaching any hook or lure is the strong and simple Palomar. Less complicated and quicker to tie than the Trilene or improved clinch knots, and just as strong as the Trilene, the Palomar is a must for bass casters and inshore saltwater anglers using monofilament line, super braids or flurocarbon. As with all the terminal tackle and joining knots, a lot of lubrication with saliva and a slow steady pull on the standing line while securing the tag end will result in the firmest, strongest knots.
As for other specialty and general use knots for a variety of outdoor activities, the sheetbend allows two pieces of rope to be solidly joined together to form a longer length. This knot works even if the two pieces are different diameters or of different materials that may seem smooth or slippery. Cargo nets, hammocks, stretchers, snowshoes, and even fish nets can be constructed using many pieces of string, cord, or rope and multiple sheet bend knots.
The bowline is crucial for boaters, waterfowlers, campers and many other outdoor sports; it will hold thousands of pounds of pressure like a figure eight knot, but is far easier to untie when finished. It can be tied around or through objects; even around yourself, with only one hand if youâ€™re injured or there is an emergency. Itâ€™s a vital, versatile knot to know.
Other fairly simple but useful knots include the clove hitch, double half hitch and the truckers hitch. These all are useful for setting up tents, packing gear on trucks, 4-wheelers or even horses. The truckers hitch is like a powerful pulley with a locking knot, it offers a two to one mechanical advantage for hanging heavy gear, tying down a canoe on a vehicle or guying out a cover tarp. It works even with a slippery line or rope. A taut-line hitch is an adjustable loop knot for use on line under tension â€” great for securing tent lines, tying down aircraft or creating adjustable moorings in tidal areas. Itâ€™s even been used by astronauts for repairs on a space shuttle mission.
Finally, learn how to tie the Prusik knot â€” itâ€™s a lifesaver for anyone using a tree-stand, working on a roof, staging or ladder. Itâ€™s a friction hitch that attaches to a standing line and easily slides upward as you climb, but should you fall, it binds immediately when weight is applied.
Each one of these knots Iâ€™ve described can be found in hundreds of books, magazines, pocket cards and even on several fishing videos. L.L. Bean even has a waterproof, pocket-size knot guide illustrated to teach anglers how to tie all these important fishing knots. While itâ€™s best to practice these knots at home a couple of evenings to train the mind and fingers to work together, it never hurts to have a pocket guide along on the outing.
This snow and mud will soon give way to spring fishing. In the meantime, why not practice knots?