Some Useful Fishing Knots

by Andrew A. Cox 

Tying knots is an essential skill in fishing. For almost every aspect of this sport, knots are used to attach lures and other terminal tackle, make live bait rigs, attach lines to fishing reels and joining lines together. Various specialty fishing techniques such as flyfishing have knots specifically used within these angling methods. If you pursue specialty angling techniques, you will use specific knots such as in the use of Float N Fly, and various plastic baits. If you consider the knots used in boat handling, the angler’s repertoire of essential knots is quite extensive.

Though the above sounds like remembering and mastering a large array of knots is required, the angler can reduce required knots used over the course of the fishing day or season to just a few. Most knots can serve multiple purposes.

I have favorite knots that are used extensively within my fishing. I will mention a few below. The reader can consult knot tying books as mentioned within this article, or knot tying websites located on the Internet for tying instructions and other information.

For attaching lures and terminal tackle, I like the following knots:

  • Improved Clinch knot. An extensively used knot within the fishing world.
  • Palomar knot; my preferred knot over the Improved Clinch knot. It is easy to tie with practice and can be used to attach lures and terminal tackle to braided line.
  • Rapala knot.  Can attach lures with a loop making them swivel better through the water.

I use mostly braided fishing line at this point but like to attach monofilament or fluorocarbon leaders of various lengths to the braid. The UniKnot is an easy knot to join various lines, even those that have different diameters.

Attaching lines to reels. The Arbor knot is easy to tie for attaching lines to reel spools.  It does not leave a bulky knot that can interfere with casting under the line as it is reeled onto the reel.

With disuse, I experience difficulty remembering the knot tying steps. Accordingly, I made copies of pictures for the tying steps for the above knots, had them laminated between plastic waterproof covers at an office supply store, and keep these laminated knot tying cards in several locations within my fishing boats. Therefore I have a step by step guide to tying a desired knot with me at all times.

Some resources providing details regarding the uses and steps for tying useful fishing knots are as follows:

McNally, Bob, The Complete Book of Fisherman’s Knots, Fishing Rigs, and How to Use Them. Jacksonville, FL:  McNally Outdoor Productions. This book has detailed diagrams with steps for tying each knot. This is the source for my laminated plastic cards with step by step tying instructions for selected knots.

Budworth, Geoffrey. The Complete Book of Fishing Knots. This book has detailed tying instructions with pictures detailing tying instructions for a wide range of fishing knots.

Wilson, Geoff. The Complete Book of Fishing Knots and Rigs. Revised edition. Another book with typing instructions with illustrations.  A good internet based sources for details on tying knots. This website has videos with step by step tying instructions.  This source is organized according to the purpose of the knot.  Also an internet based source for details on tying knots. This also has detailed drawings and pictures for a wide range of knots.

Unfortunately, I am not a good artist and unable to provide drawings with step by step tying instructions for knots described within this article. The references noted have detailed descriptions for all described knots.

Author’s Note: Dr. Andrew Cox is a contributing writer to outdoor publications and newspapers. He is a member of the Georgia Outdoor Writer’s Association. Dr. Cox financially supports his fishing habits as Professor Emeritus at Troy University, Phenix City, Alabama. He may be contacted at