Best Fishing Knots

Somewhere along the line an angler wonders if that fishing knot their dad or granddad taught them as a young child was really of the best fishing knots they could tie. Inevitably, we end up seeking out a “holy grail” of knots, usually after losing one or two good fighters from poorly tied knots. I had a similar experience on a guided fishing trip for striped bass. It was about towards the end of our day and I threw my chunk of mackerel out to an area tucked next to the shore. Not long after the bait sank towards the bottom, I felt a powerful tug. The fight that ensued was one I’d never felt before. This thing was a hog! But then, just as the fish was heading towards some cover, the line went slack as the pole snapped straight- gone! When I reeled in what remained I saw that ever-too-familiar “pig tail” at the end of my line, indicating the knot didn’t hold. The guide didn’t say anything, but I’m guessing he felt pretty bad. A lost trophy on his knot!

Needless to say, I never wanted to experience something like that again. With enough motivation, I sought out what I thought would be surefire knots to keep my hook secured to the end of my line. What I discovered is that there are dozens of knots for all sorts of applications! But which knot is best? From my experience, and from other experienced anglers, I was able to narrow down my list to four absolutely must-know fishing knots. They’re easy to tie and super durable. If you have to learn about knots, I would say these are the best fishing knots you can learn and apply every day out fishing.

 The Best Fishing Knots – The Palomar Knot

The Palomar knot is probably the most commonly used knot in fishing because it’s easy to do and very strong. This knot can be used for many different applications, but works best when tying a hook or fly to your line. You can use this knot with any types of line, but it is the knot recommended for braided line. Once you practice it enough, this is a knot you can tie easily in complete darkness. The steps to this knot are below. You can find this knot and many, many other knots located at this great site.

  1. Form a loop in the end of the line
  2. Pass the loop through the eye of the hook or lure
  3. With the loop in hand, tie an overhand knot
  4. Pass the loop over the hook or lure and then down around the knot
  5. Lubricate the knot and then pull the standing and tag ends of the line to tighten the knot
  6. Clip the excess drag end of the line

The Best Fishing Knots – The Palomar Knot Video Demonstration

The Best Fishing Knots – The San Diego Jam (Reverse Cinch) Knot

Despite the funny name, the San Diego Jam knot is seriously strong. A slightly different version of the “noose” knot, this knot was popularized by tuna anglers in, you guessed it, San Diego. This knot is extremely versatile, usable on braided, mono, and fluorocarbon lines. And again, another simple knot to tie in the most adverse conditions. Great knot to tie at sea.

  1. Pass the tag end through the eye of the hook
  2. Hold the lines to make a loop and wrap the tag end around the line several times
  3. Pass the tag end between the lines near the eye and then back through the loop parallel to the line
  4. Lubricate and tighten the knot, carefully so the turns of the line don’t end up overlapping each other
  5. Trim the excess tag end

The Best Fishing Knots – The San Diego Jam (Reverse Cinch) Knot Video Demonstration

The Best Fishing Knots – The Yucatan Knot

The Yucatan Knot is the best knot for tying heavier line to a lighter line. Whenever you need to tie on a leader, this is the knot. Unlike the albright special, this uses a double line loop to wrap around your leader, thus making it stronger. This has been used heavily off the coasts of Cancun and Isla Mujeres, hence the name.

  1. Lay the leader and doubled main line from your reel parallel to each other. Doubled main line is often created with a Bimini twist
  2. Wrap the doubled line around the leader six times if you’re using mono or fluorocarbon, at least ten times if you’re using braid.
  3. Feed the end of the leader through the loop at the end of the doubled line
  4. Pull the doubled line and leader in opposite directions to tighten. When pulling the line, you’ll notice the leader will wrap onto the doubled line

The Best Fishing Knots – The Yucatan Knot Video Demonstration

 The Best Fishing Knots – The J Knot

When joining two lines with similar diameter, the best knot to use is the J Knot. Slightly stronger than the Surgeons’ Knot, the Blood Knot, and the Double Uni Knot.

  1. Lay your main line and leader on top of each other, overlapping by several inches
  2. Form a large loop tying a simple overhand knot, pulling the entire leader through
  3. Run the end of the line and entire leader through the loop from the back
  4. Repeat the process again from the top of the loop entering the back  to the front and then again from the bottom of the loop
  5. Lubricate lines and pull tight.

The Best Fishing Knots – The J Knot Video Demonstration

Best Fishing Knots – The Rapala Knot

Named after the popular lure manufacturer, the Rapala Knot is great for connecting lures to monofilament line. The key feature to this knot is the non-slip loop at the end. This gives a fly or lure more action as you pull it.

  1. Tie an overhand knot, loosely, and feed the tag end through the eye and back through the overhand knot
  2. Make about three turns around the standing line and bring the tag back through overhand knot
  3. Pass the tag end through the loop that is formed
  4. Lubricate line. Pull on the standing line while holding the tag end to close the knot. Pull both the tag end and standing line to properly tighten

Best Fishing Knots – The Rapala Knot Video Demonstration

One Final Piece of Advice

As you’ve seen with all these demonstrations, the biggest takeaway about a knot is to lubricate it before you tighten. This helps prevent line burn, weakening the line, and make the knot more secure. Tying a dry knot can cause problems that you’d rather avoid. A great resource to learn about the many other knots to tie is this site. Packed with step by step instructions, videos, and simple animations, you can learn all the best knots to use when out fishing.