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Knots & Rigs: Top 10 Knots

Knots & Rigs With Mark Williams

WHAT are the knots you need to know to conquer any fish on the planet? The following list of knots has held me in good stead over the years when pursuing everything from Australian bass through to giant Atlantic tarpon. Competency in tying this range of knots should allow an angler to tackle any species or fishing scenario going. However, the list is by no means a finished product; it’s more a work in constant progress and revision.

As new connections are developed, I’ll compare them to this top 10 and if they’re superior they’ll get a guernsey in the line up. Check out a range of short but informative videos on how to tie these knots on the Fishing World website, You can also refer to the books by renowned knotologist Geoff Wilson for more info on these and other knots.

1. Uni-Knot: The most versatile of connections, originally known as the Duncan loop after US saltwater fly fisherman Norman Duncan. It can be used for tying off terminals with the lightest of lines through to the heaviest leader material by reducing the number of turns in the knot.

The double Uni-Knot is also an excellent connection for joining lines. The Uni-Knot is my favourite means of connecting line load to reel spool as the knot can be formed clear of the reel then slid down into position when the knot is pulled up. It can also be pulled up with considerable force, biting onto the reel spool tightly and reducing the risk of slippage. It’s also a knot that with practice can be tied in low light conditions or even in the dark. A firm favourite and must have in the arsenal. An honourable mention goes to the first knot I was ever taught by my father and grandfather, the Locked Half Blood Knot, but I only really tie it for sentimental reasons these days when luderick fishing, if the truth be known.

2.Lefty’s Loop Knot: The benchmark in loop knots these days, consigning the Homer Rhodes knot to history. Simple to tie, with good knot strength, the Lefty’s Loop never slips when tied properly. Another versatile knot that can be tied in the lightest of tippets through to heavy hard mono leader material. An honourable mention goes to the perfection
loop, though.

3.Bimini twist: A must have double knot in the arsenal of any angler aspiring to chase big powerful fish on light tackle, especially in the fields of gamefishing, fly fishing or lure casting. To me, the Bimini twist really is the foundation block for rigging up to pursue any high powered sportfish that is going to be testing your tackle to its limits. Essential where near 100 per cent knot strength is required in rigging. An honourable mention goes to the plaited double, but the Bimini twist really has become my No.1 doubled line system in recent years.

4.Triple Surgeon’s Knot:
A very old connection that has really come back into favour in recent years, especially in the bream comp scene and saltwater fly fraternity. A quick, relatively simple means of tying lines of varying diameters together with good knot strength.  Interestingly, a leading US surgeon once told me that it’s never used in surgical applications. A special for light braid to leader connections and building fly leaders.

5.Albright Knot: The original and still among the best connections for joining light lines directly to heavy monofilament or fluorocarbon leaders. Named after legendary Florida Key’s guide Jimmie Albright. Requires care in tying and pulling up, but retains excellent knot strength. An honourable mention goes to the Slim Beauty, another leader connection with good knot strength, but I prefer the Albright for use with really heavy casting leaders such as those used when heavy threadline poppering for XOS GTs.  

6.Cat’s-paw: The best option for connecting doubled lines to swivels, twisted leaders and fly lines.

Neat and simple with high knot strength. Very popular with the gamefishing fraternity.

7.Common Snell: A very old knot that was originally used for tying on spatulated or flatted eye hooks in the days before we had ringed hook eyes. Still a very necessary knot for anglers fishing big baits off two hook rigs for species such as jewfish and snapper. I still like to use the snell when connecting gamefishing hooks with brazed eyes such as the ubiquitous Mustad Seamaster to heavy monofilament leader material. A very strong, unobtrusive connection.  

8.Ducknose Knot: A personal favourite of mine for tropical lure fishing situations connecting braided main lines to hard mono leaders. Simple and quick to tie, it must be pulled up with considerable force to fully form the knot. For some reason I’ve found to my considerable embarrassment during rigging demonstrations that the knot tends to slip when using Berkley Vanish as leader. Once again an honourable mention goes to the Slim Beauty, but the Ducknose is the leader knot I go to when barra fishing most often.

9.Nail Knot: Another very old, but strong connection that is regularly used in fly fishing, particularly for connecting fly lines to butt sections. Also useful for fly leader construction and connecting terminals to heavy leader material.

10. Dropper Loop: Essential for deep bottom fishing with multiple baits. The ability to rig droppers is also necessary when drop-shotting lures and fishing flies on dropper rigs. The final ingredient in the rigging arsenal to ensure all potential fishing situations are covered.


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